St Peter's Censored

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The journal of William Dowsing in 1644 said:

Carlton cum Willingham, March 22. A cross on the steeple promised to be taken down, and we brake [break] divers [diverse] superstitious pictures.

What was going on?

The English Civil War had just happened, and the new Parliament had decreed that “all Monuments of Superstition and Idolatry should be removed and abolished”, specifying: “fixed altars, altar rails, chancel steps, crucifixes, crosses, images of the Virgin Mary and pictures of saints or superstitious inscriptions.”

William Dowsing was a puritan soldier who was appointed as “Commissioner for the destruction of monuments of idolatry and superstition”. He visited parishes all over Cambridgeshire and Suffolk destroying pictures and crosses. He added insult to injury by charging each church a “noble” (a third of a pound) for the service of censuring them!

It is impossible to know if the cross on the top of Carlton church was destroyed as promised, and thus whether the cross currently there is the original or a replacement. But certainly several religious pictures were lost.

Other local parishes visited were mentioned, here are two:

Weston Colville, March 22-23. Superstitious pictures cuius animae propitietur Deus [On whose soul may God have mercy], and one ‘Pray for the soul’ , and the twelve apostles, and superstitious pictures and a cross on the porch, and steps to be levelled in the chancel.
Burrough Green, March 22. We brake [break] down sixty four superstitious, one crucifix, and Joseph and Mary stood together in the glass, as they were espoused, and a cross on the steeple, we gave order to the churchwardens to take down.