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.