home I index I latest I glossary I introductions I e-mail I about this site
St Mary, East Bilney
the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to
see them enlarged.
You step into a bright, clean interior coloured by the flanking late 19th and early 20th century windows. The font and tower arch survive from the earlier building, and I wondered if the lower part of the chancel arch was medieval too. Whatever, the interior is all very harmonious, and very well done. Much of the glass is rather serious in that turn of the century manner, culminating in the magnificent war memorial window depicting St Michael and St Alban. There are two earlier roundels, continental glass of the 17th century each set in a ring of English medieval fragments, both with intriguing inscriptions. One declares itself to be from the Monasterium Leodiense Duodecim Apostolorum, the Monastery of the Twelve Apostles at Luyden.
Another figure remembered in the glass at East Bilney is Thomas Bilney. Bilney was a Catholic Priest, who would have been quite at home with much of the teaching of the modern Catholic Church. However, his doubts about some medieval practices drew the attention of Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII's thought police. They cautioned him, but released him to preach again because he was so articulate in his arguments against Lutheranism and the protestant reformers. Eventually, as battle-lines hardened, he was arrested under the authority of the Bishop of Norwich, and burned at the stake as a heretic.
It would have taken a lawyer with a fine eye for the small print to find Bilney guilty of heresy, but what was more to the point was that the Bishop of Norwich had acted without authorisation from above. In turn, he was arrested, and he forfeited his possessions as a punishment for his treatment of Bilney.
This, of course, could not bring Thomas Bilney back. His influence over his pupils at Cambridge University meant that there were articulate and ardent advocates of his cause, among them the increasingly protestant Hugh Latimer.
Simon Knott, September 2006
Amazon commission helps cover the running costs of this site.
home I index I latest I introductions I e-mail I about
this site I glossary
Norwich I ruined churches I desktop backgrounds I round tower churches
links I small print I www.simonknott.co.uk I www.suffolkchurches.co.uk