On this day in 1538, the Franciscan Friar John Forest was burned at the stake in Smithfield for refusing to take an oath acknowledging the King – Henry VIII – as the Supreme Head of the Church in England (it is said that fuel for the fire was provided by a statue of St Derfel from the pilgrimage site of Llandderfel in North Wales, which it had been prophesied would “one day set a forest on fire”). Forest had been a confessor to Henry first wife, Catherine of Aragon (*), and in 1532 had publicly spoken out against his plans to divorce her (from the open-air pulpit at St Paul’s Cross).
Smithfield is visited on “Historic Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Holborn” standard walk, and on our “Medieval London” and “Tudor and Stuart London” themed specials.
Further details of all our walks are available in the Our Guided Walks section of this web-site.
Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
(*) There was a Franciscan Friary attached to the Royal Palace at Greenwich.