The Unfortunate George Tankerfield, burned at the stake

… by Queen Mary Tudor (reigned 1553-1558).

She  wanted to make an example of him to other protestants of the time. The queen was best known for her aggressive attempt to reverse the English Reformation which had begun under the reign of her father, Henry VIII. The executions that marked her pursuit of the restoration of Roman Catholicism in England and Ireland led to her denunciation as ’Bloody Mary’ by her Protestant opponents.” (Wikipedia)

I am able to bring this to your attention because I presently am lodged at Tankerfield House, #1 Romeland Hill, across the street from the site of the infamous execution, in the City of St Albans, England.


Saint Albans, after whom the town was named, was also a martyr, beheaded sometime between the 3rd and 4th Century for protecting a priest from persecution by local Roman authorities.

The legend standing in the location of Tankerfield’s murder, now a park cum graveyard, reads, in part:

The name Romeland is derived from Room Land, meaning ’open space’, and throughout the Middle Ages Romeland was an open space immediately outside Abbey Gate, the most important entrance to the monastery… In medieval times it was an important open space in the town and was used for large gatherings.

(The city of) St Albans played a major part in the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381. Conflict had been growing with the Abbot over millihg rights and it was at Romeland that the local people gathered before breaking into the Abbey Gatehouse, which at the time housed the Abbott’s prison. The Present Great Gateway was built in the 1380s… (The gate) symbolises the conflict between the monastery and the town which was not resolved until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 (under Henry VIII).

Following the the dissolution… the land was sold off and a number of the Abbey buildings were demolished. Immediately east of Romeland is the north churchyard of the Cathedral and Abbey Church

During the reign of Queen Mary in 1555 a protestant baker, George Tankerfield, was brought to Romeland from Barnet and burnt at the stake as a warning to oher protestants…

The landlady of Tankerfield House, Jacqui, responded ’yes’ to my question if Mr. Tankerfield might have had a stone of some kind erected in his memory. She said it probably was well worn by time and weather, so I imagine this was the memorial among all the others present which were mostly legible, at least in part. There is much illegible writing on the side of the stone facing us in this picture.

During her five-year reign Queen Mary had 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake. After her death in 1558, her re-establshment of Roman Catholicism was reversed by her younger half-sister and successor Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Bolyn. Thus began the ’Elizabethan Era’.

Now I am much better informed regarding names and events I’ve heard about all my life, but I regret it took the supremely unhappy death of Mr. George Tankerfield to lead me here.