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History: Fishing Town

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Tudor Rose

Tudor Brighton: Primary Sources

Primary source materials for a history of Brighton in the sixteenth century are pretty scarce, but two important documents survive. The first is a rich source of infomation about the town's main industry: fishing. It is known as The Booke of All The Ancient Customs and is dated to 1580. The second source is John Foxe's Acts and Monuments of the English Martyrs. Foxe's book is the classic text of the English Reformation, telling the story of the martyrs of the 'true faith' from New Testament days onwards. It went through four editions between 1563 and 1583. The importance of Foxe's Acts to the history of Brighton is found in the account we have of the trial and execution (by burning) of Deryk Carver, a brewer from Black Lion Street, and one of the victims of the Marian persecutions, of Bloody Mary. From this account we realise that Brighton was more than just a simple fishing town.

The Book of Ancient Customs, 1580

The Book of Ancient Customs"THE BOOKE of all the auncient customs heretofore used amonge ye fishermen of the Towne of Brighthelmeston in the Countie of Sussex & orders out of the saide customs by the said fishermen taken & made & afterwards vz the xx111th day of Julye in ye yeare of ye Raigne of our Soveraigne Lady Elizabeth ye xxiith by ye Right Honourable the Lorde Buckherst and Richard Shelley Esquier at Brighthelmeston aforsaid in ye presence of the saide fishermen redd ratified and confirmed"

 

 

 

Read more about the Tudor fishing fleet - click here

 

John Foxe's Acts and Monuments of the English Martyrs.

John FoxeFoxe (1516 - 1587) tells the story of the trial and execution of Deryk Carver, a Protestant brewer, in 1555 during the reign of Queen Mary. Carver's brewery was in Black Lion Street. The account of Carver's death is a small part of a monumental work which went to 2,300 pages in its second edition.

Foxe's book is a mythic history which sets out to justify the English Reformation, telling the story of the true faith and of those who suffered martyrdom for it from the days of the early church of the New Testament onwards to the years of the Marian persecution in his own day.

Foxe's book became the quintessential justification of the Reformation in England, casting England in a special role of the defence of Protestantism everywhere. (There is an only saying - of Lewis Namier's that whenever you see the phrase 'English The Burning of Protestants outside the Star Inn, LewesReformation' you should read it as 'English nationalism'. Okay, but it was a religious nationalism.) By order of convocation, the ruling body of the Church of England, a copy of the book was placed in every cathedral church next to the Bible, and it seems likely that many parish churches also acquired a copy. The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 was widely interpreted as a fulfillment of Foxe's central teaching.

 

 

Plaque to Deryk Carver
Memorial Plaque
The plaque in memory of Deryk Carver on the wall of the Black Lion pub in Black Lion Street. The original brewery was demolished. It was reconstructed in 1974.

See also: Bonfire Night at Lewes
See also: What I Was Taught

 

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