Monday, 19 May 2014

Religious intolerance

Given the title of this post - which I have already typed - you might have thought I am going to write about modern conflicts between Christians and Muslims or between Sunni and Shia or possibly even between Jews and Palestinians.  If so, you would have been wrong.  I am going to tell you something of the conflict between Roman Catholics and Protestants, but not the conflicts that raged no so very long ago in Northern Ireland, the Troubles which still cause anguish.  What follows is a sort of history lesson, history from 400 years ago and more.

I had occasion earlier this month to make one of my rare trips into the centre of Brighton.  I had time to spare before the meeting that was the reason for my excursion so I wandered around with my camera.  I particularly wanted to take a picture of the Cricketers, a pub in Black Lion Street that is claimed to be the oldest in Brighton.  The sign over the door says that the pub was established in 1547.  Unfortunately, I was unable to take a picture as a plumber's van was parked right in the way.  I hung around for a while and just as I thought he might drive away, a drain clearer's van pulled up right behind him.  I gave up and, as a result, have had to borrow this picture from Tripadvisor.

The pub has quite a history.  Well, it would, given that it has been there for 450 years or so.  This was author Graham Greene's favourite pub - hence the Greene Room - and it features in Brighton Rock and Travels with My Aunt.  There is also a tale that Jack the Ripper was a customer.

"Brighton ghost-walker Rob Marks is convinced Robert Donston Stephenson was the infamous murderer.  Stephenson lived in Brighton for a time and his ghost allegedly haunts The Cricketers pub where he stayed.  Mr Marks said Stephenson was a trained surgeon – the Ripper removed many of his victims’ organs – and lived above the pub in Black Lion Street in the first half of 1888.

The pub was a well-known haunt for prostitutes. Stephenson was linked to murders, including one in The Royal Albion hotel in the city, but moved to Whitechapel on July 26, 1888. Just days later, the first of the Ripper’s prostitute victims was found dead in a side street.

Mr Marks said: “Some believed The Cricketers is haunted by his ghost. “He stayed there in 1888, close to the time of the murders in Whitechapel. He was one of the prime suspects and remains one.”

Right next door to the Cricketers is the Black Lion.  The present building (pictured by Tony Mould) dates from 1974 but is an exact reconstruction of the old brewery founded by Deryck Carver.

Carver was a 16th century asylum seeker, fleeing to England from Flanders where he was persecuted for his Protestant faith.  He founded the brewery which he named after the Black Lion of Flanders and he grew his hops on land nearby.  During the reign of Queen Mary I, it was illegal to follow any religion other than Roman Catholicism.  Carver and several others were arrested in October 1554 for reading the Bible in English, only Latin was permitted, and he was taken to Newgate Gaol in London.  Found guilty of heresy, he was sentenced to death and, on 22 July 1555, was burned in a barrel outside the Star Inn in Lewes, the first of the Protestant martyrs.

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