chapter  7
7 Pages

Conclusion: The Process of Urban Reformation

Little more than 30 miles separate the two towns of Hadleigh and Bury St Edmunds, yet by 1600, the predominant religious outlook of each town was quite different. It is puzzling to reflect at what crossroads the two parted company. Both were unincorporate market towns of middling to higher rank primarily dependent upon the fortunes of the cloth trade for their economic health. Reformed ideas and preachers had established a presence early on in both towns. Yet where Hadleigh with its roll-call of Protestant martyrs might have been the reformed town par excellence, by the turn of the century it was curiously quiescent and fertile ground for later Arminians. Conversely, despite the undoubted conservatism of many of the townsmen of Bury in the 1550s, forty years later the borough had become a byword for the hotter sort of Protestants. These differences, albeit oversimplified, point out the real difficulties involved in generalizing about the process of reformation in the market towns of England, let alone in East Anglia.