The Seed of the Church: Gloucester
The Martyrs of Gloucester
On 4 May 2007, the Feast of the English Martyrs, the Rt Revd Declan Lang, Roman Catholic Bishop of Clifton, unveiled two plaques outside St Peter's Church in the heart of Gloucester.
The city's Civic Trust had worked with the City Council to ensure that the historic nature of the location, as the site of the first post-Reformation Catholic Church and school in Gloucester, was commemorated alongside the seven Catholics with Gloucester connections who were martyred for their faith between 1585 and 1601. Among them were Thomas Alfield and Thomas Webley, who were hanged drawn and quartered at Tyburn for being priests, and William Lampley, a layman executed for converting his relatives, each a conviction for high treason.
Present at the event was the Mayor of Gloucester, Councillor Sue Blakeley as well as the Anglican Bishop of Gloucester, Right Reverend Michael Perham. In the reign of Queen Mary, John Hooper, a former Cistercian monk and a leading Reformer bishop of Gloucester had been executed for proclaiming his Protestant faith.
The current Parish Priest and Dean of Gloucester Father Bernard Massey said, “It is important that in a secular world, the courage and sacrifice by people of faith is an important witness to the world of today.”
On February 9th 2005, the Anglican Cathedral community in Gloucester had also commemorated the 450th Anniversary of Bishop Hooper's death by burning on conviction for heresy under the Catholic Queen Mary. This was followed by a series of Lent lectures, "Reformation and Reconciliation". The following February, members of the Cathedral congregation made a pilgrimage to Rome.