Memorials & Monuments
on the Isle of Wight
- Cowes : St Thomas RC Church -
- Martyrs : Robert Anderton and William Marsden -


In the grounds of St Thomas of Canterbury Roman Catholic Church, Terminus Road, Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO31 7HY.
See map on
Historic England Listing Status

St Thomas of Canterbury Church is Listed Grade II. Since the Memorial forms part of the fabric of the building it is assumed that it is covered by the Listing.

A marble plaque in the garden.

Cowes RC Martyrs

To the memory of
Blessed Robert Anderton
William Marsden
priests and martyrs
Executed on the Isle of Wight
25th April 1586

Further Information

The memorial is in the garden at St Thomas of Canterbury RC Church, which was created on the site of a former Victorian schoolroom. The plaque commemorates the deaths on the Island of Robert Anderton and William Marsden. The two men - both ordained priests - were aged 26 when they died. The martyrs were educated at school in Lancashire, then Brasenose College, Oxford. They left England and were ordained priests in Rheims, France, after studying at Douai College. On their way back to England their boat was driven ashore by a severe storm and they landed on the Isle of Wight. Within hours they were caught and taken to Winchester where, after a trial, they were found guilty of entering the country, having been ordained abroad. In 1585, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, this was defined as treason in the Anti-Jesuit Act. The chief justice refused to pass sentence and sent them to London to appeal for the Queen's clemency. They were given the option of not preaching the Catholic faith and when they declined were sentenced to death. They were sent back to the Isle of Wight for the execution on April 25, 1586. The actual spot has not been identified. Some say it is at Mark's Corner on the edge of Parkhurst Forest, others that it could be in Gurnard above the sailing club. Wherever it was, it overlooked Cowes Roads, where they first sought shelter from the storm.

History based on information given in the Isle of Wight County Press 16 July 2003



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