Bansfield BeneficeDiocese of St Edmundbury & IpswichChurch of England Benefice Scenes Benefice Scenes Benefice Scenes Benefice Scenes

The History Of All Saints' Wickhambrook

William Dowsing

William Dowsing (1596 - 1668), was an English iconoclast who operated at the time of the English Civil War. Dowsing was a puritan soldier who was born in Laxfield, Suffolk. He was Provost-Marshall of the armies of the Eastern Association (Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, and Lincolnshire), responsible for supplies and administration.

Dowsing carried out his work in 1643-4 by visiting over 250 churches in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, removing or defacing items that he thought fitted the requirements outlined in the Ordinance. He recruited assistants, apparently among his friends and family, and where they were unable to perform the work themselves he left instructions for the work to be carried out. Sometimes the local inhabitants assisted his work, but often he was met by resistance or non-co-operation. His commission, backed up by the ability to call on military force if necessary, meant that he usually got his way. He charged each church a noble (a third of a pound) for his services.

When Manchester, his patron, fell out with Oliver Cromwell in late 1644, his commission ceased.

Last Modified Thursday 05 May 2011