Burn, Holy Fire!: Religion in Lewes Since the Reformation

By Jeremy Goring

An account of the religious development of Lewes in East Sussex, revealing a social history of religion in England from the Reformation to the present day.

ISBN: 9780718830403


Lewes, the county town of East Sussex, is famous for its impressive bonfire night celebrations. The author examines the origins and importance of this festival and sheds new light on the commemoration of the martyrs burned for their beliefs, hundreds of years ago. Burn, Holy Fire! takes its title from a hymn by a collateral descendant of one of the men burned in the fire depicted on its cover, a formidable reminder of the religious fervour which dominated Europe during this turbulent period.

Jeremy Goring traces the development of this town from the Reformation to the present day. Lewes was noted for its assimilation of a variety of Christian beliefs, from the rise of Puritanism and the Great Ejection, through the emergence of Nonconformity and the subsequent Evangelical Revival, through the Oxford Movement, the Protestant-Catholic conflict, and the ecumenical movement, and finally the decline of institutional religion. Nearly every branch and brand of Christianity was represented here through the centuries.

This ‘absorbing book’, as the historian Asa Briggs describes it in his Foreword, is not only for students but for the general reader seeking a deeper understanding of the past. Goring believes that the social history of religion is best studied within the context of a particular local community, where elements of continuity and change can be clearly discerned. Lewes exemplifies almost everything of significance in the religious life of England over the last 500 years.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 192

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Jeremy Goring was born at Hassocks, Sussex in 1930 and educated at Brighton Grammar School and New College, Oxford. After gaining a Ph.D. at London University, he worked successively in publishing, advertising, the Unitarian ministry and teaching. From 1967 to 1986 he taught history at Goldsmiths’ College, ending up as Dean of the School of Humanities and Performing Arts. On retirement he completed training as an analytical psychotherapist, moved to Lewes and helped to set up the Westgate One World Centre. ‘A member of no church and every church’, he is European Representative of Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, a spiritual movement based in Nigeria. He and his wife Rosemary have three sons, a daughter and three grandchildren.


List of Maps and Tables
Foreword by Asa Briggs

I. Religion before the Reformation
II. Reformation, Reaction and the Roots of Conflict
III. Puritans, Laudians and the Great Civil War
IV. Ejection, Schism and the Long Persecution
V. Dissensions within Dissent
VI. Evangelical Revival and Sectarian Strife
VII. Protestants, Papists and Puseyites
VIII. From Conflict to Cooperation

Index of Persons
General Index


Endorsements and Reviews

It is not easy to weave specialist work into a general survey, but Jeremy Goring has succeeded admirably. The telling local references, again and again, illustrate the general point he is making.
William Lamont, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Sussex