Ansar Ahmed Ullah
Contributing Editor, Shottobani
London: Huguenots were Protestants who fled from France during the 16th to 18th centuries and were what today we would call asylum seekers, persecuted for their religion. They refused to conform to the majority Catholic faith and remained devoted to their religion despite loss of their civil rights, torture, imprisonment, enslavement or death.
These courageous and devout people were faced with the choice of giving up their religion, worshipping secretly, or escaping to other countries. Approximately 20,000 came to London, bringing their skills and making a major contribution to the fields of banking, commerce, industry, the book trade, the arts and the army.
Huguenots of Spitalfields planned for the month of October has a packed programme of events to celebrate these remarkable people and share stories of their tenacity and their faith.
Highlights include Marie Durand: Prisoner of Faith in the Tour de Constance whorefused to give up her Protestant faith and was punished with 38 years in prison. Hear the story of her life, her faith and courage, which enabled her to give hope and comfort to her fellow prisoners during their long period of incarceration. The journey of Marie de La Rochefoucauld and her children After her husband was forced to change his religion, Marie was determined to remove her family from France and seek refuge elsewhere. ‘There’s scarcely a day when my heart does not weep’ A talk about letters from women left behind when their Protestant menfolk sought refuge in England. These poignant letters reveal their tenacity and the difficulties of bringing up their families in an often-hostile environment and ‘The Huguenot Dilemma’ Revd. Chris Moody, Vicar at St. Alfege Greenwich describes how the Huguenots had to balance their own strong religious identity and loyalty to their own church whilst asserting their position as newcomers in English society, commerce and culture.
Huguenot Month is supported by the City of London Corporation as part of their initiative, ‘Women: Work and Power.’