Cast Photo showing the Winchcombe family - photo by Geoff Fletcher

John Winchcombe Senior

Was the mayor of Newbury in 1556 and the Winchcombe family were associated with the formation of the town and its prosperity.  Winchcombe was one of the judges at the trial and may have been taking a difficult political position.  Openly supporting the rule of law and the government, Queen and country, but also aware that many of the people of Newbury had turned to the Protestant faith and were reformers.

John Winchcombe's character ended the Community Play with these words:

"Good people of Newbury, my people. You are my people, surely. I am an old man, and I have seen many come and go throughout my years. Yet I would I had never seen any go as these have gone.

They say it is an honour to die for one's beliefs - but surely honour greater if a country can tolerate all beliefs. It is a token of our troubled times that we cannot endure these various doctrines and strange it is that we cannot, for here in Newbury, in England too, our strength lies in our diversity.

We are a mongrel people, and as the cur is stronger than the weakly thoroughbred, so are we strong and determined to survive whate'er the odds. We are mere men and men are known imperfect. 'Tis our imperfections and our jealousies have brought us to this hour.

I look to the future, a country proud of its people, confident in itself, where all men's views are counted as of value, where the very lives of its people count for more than the views they hold, where never shall men do vile things one to the other in the name of He that is love and compassion.

This then is our lesson; let us learn it well, that we may never again see the like of this most painful day".

Copyright Christine West