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552 [496]

Actes and Monuments Of the Churche.

great meruel vnto many men, but specially vnto these mē whose names here folow. Robert king of Dednam, Robert Debuam of Estberghost, Nicolas Marsh of Dednam, and Robert Gardner of Dedham, whose consciences were so burned to se the honor and power of almighty liuing God to be blasphemed by such an Idoll, they were moued by the spirite of God to trauaile out of Dedham in a wondrous goodly night, both hard frost and fair mone shyne, although the night before, and the nyght after were exceading foule and rainye. It was from the towne of Dedham to the place where the filthy Rode stode x. miles. Notwithstandynge they were so willing in that their enterpryse, that they wente that x. miles and founde the church dore open, according to the blinde talke of the ignorant people. For there durst no vnfaithfull body shut it, which happened wel for their purpose, for they found the Idoll whichehad as much power to kepe the dore shut, as to kepe him open. And for profe therof, they toke the Idol from his shrine, and caried him a quarter of a mile frō the place wher he stode, without any resistance of the said Idol. Wherupō they strake fire with a flint stone, and sodenly set him on fire, who burned oute so brym, that he lighted them homewarde one good mile of the x. This doone, there went a great talke abrode that they shoulde haue greate richesse in that place, but it was very vntrue, for it was not their thoughte or enterprise, as they them selues afterwarde confessed, for there was nothing taken away, but his coate, his shoes and tapers. The tapers did helpe to burne him, the shoes they had again, and the coat one sir Thomas Rose did burne, but they had neyther peny, halfe peny, gold, grote nor iewell.

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Notwithstandinge thre of them were afterward indited of felonye, and hanged in chaines

Robert King, Robert Debnam, and Nicholas Marshe hanged for taking downe the Roode of douercourt
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Commentary on the Woodcuts  *  Close
Foxe is our main source for this daring deed of iconoclastic destruction, which took place at a time when Henry VIII's sanction of reform had not yet started official bonfires of holy images. The image destroyed by the three men of Suffolk was a rood in the church of Dovercourt, near Harwich (some miles from where they lived), which they regarded as an idol, partly because of the miraculous powers reportedly attributed to it -- power that they disproved by removing it from the church and setting fire to it. Foxe's illustration -- eliding offence and punishment -- shows it as a lifesize (or larger) wooden figure, readily reduced to ashes. The authorities (both clerical and secular) presiding over the execution are portrayed as calmly in control. But there were were some disturbing features of this incident, including the activities of Thomas Rose, the rector of Hadleigh, himself ardent for image reform, and the recipient of the coat of the Dovercourt rood, which he had the pleasure of burning. A later report of the image being destroyed at Edward's accession seems to indicate that a replacement was installed after this destruction. The woodcut compresses the several parts on this story and presents one image of events that took place at different times and places. As the narrative explains, the three men who were caught were given exemplary executions at different places (Dovercourt itself, Cattawade and Dedham -- both en route to Hadleigh). The fourth man, Robert Gardiner, escaped and lived to tell the tale to Foxe, who only recorded this in 1570 (p. 1173 marginal note: 'Ex testimonio ipsius Gardner'). CUL copy: additional detail is added to the belts in this image, which is visually distracting, since it is in a very bright black. WREN copy: this is a very vibrant illustration, with the use of bright orange for the flames. The burning crucifix is most dramatic: the flesh of Christ is depicted as looking very lifelike, although the additional detail of blood dripping from his wounds is rather clumsily added.

within halfe a yere after, or ther about. Robert King was hanged in Dedhā at Burchet, Robert Debnā was hanged at Cattaway causy. Nicolas Marshe was hanged at Douercourt, which iii. persons through the spirit of God at their death, did more edify the people in godly learning, then al the sermons þt had bene preached ther in longe time before. 

Commentary  *  Close

This one of a number of indications scattered throughout the Acts and Monuments of Foxe's whole-hearted approval of iconoclasm. It is perhaps worth remembering that he destroyed an image of the Virgin Mary at Ouldsworth, Surrey, during Edward VI's reign [ODNB].

The iiii. man of this company named Robert Gardner, eskaped their hands & fled. Albeit that he was cruellye sought for, to haue had the like deathe, but the liuing Lord preserued him, to whome be al ho-nor and glory world without ende.

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The same yere 

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It is clear from Foxe's note that his source for the following incidents was Robert Gardner. But it is not apparent whether these details came from the original letter Gardner sent to Chapman or from subsequent communications between Foxe and Gardner.

& the yere before, there were many images cast downe & destroyed in many places, as the image of the crucifix, in the high way by Cogshall, the Image of S. Petronill in the church of great Horksleigh. The Image of S. Christopher by Sudburye, & another image of s. Petronil in a chapel by Ipswich.

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Also Ihon Seward of Dedham ouerthrewe a crosse in Stoke Parke, and tooke ii. Images out of a chapel in the same Parke, and cast thē into the water.

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