Elizabeth I’s war with England’s Catholics

England's Elizabethan Catholics were public enemy number one. Their Masses were banned and their priests were executed. Jessie Childs reveals what life was like for 'recusants' and 'church papists' in a hostile Protestant state

An illustration from the first edition of John Foxe The Book of Martyrs. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the May 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine

In 1828, builders removing a lintel over a doorway at Rushton Hall in Northamptonshire were surprised to see an old, beautifully bound book come down with the rubble. They decided to investigate and knocked through a thick partition wall, exposing a recess, about 5 feet long and 15 inches wide. Inside, wrapped up in a large sheet, was an enormous bundle of papers and books that had once belonged to Sir Thomas Tresham, a Catholic gentleman in the reign of Elizabeth I.

Want to read more?

Become a BBC History Magazine subscriber today to unlock all premium articles in The Library

Unlock now