The Puritans were a group
of English Reformed Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries, who sought
to "purify" the Church of England from all Roman Catholic practices
The most notable and active Puritan was William Dowsing who lived at Laxfield in Suffolk, in the seventeenth century.
In 1643 he was appointed by their captain-general, the Earl of Manchester, as "Commissioner for the destruction of monuments of idolatry and superstition" to carry out a Parliamentary Ordinance of 28 August 1643 which stated that "all Monuments of Superstition and Idolatry should be removed and abolished", specifying: "fixed altars, altar rails, chancel steps, crucifixes, crosses, images of the Virgin Mary and pictures of saints or superstitious inscriptions." In May 1644 the scope of the ordinance was widened to include representations of angels (a particular obsession of Dowsing's), rood lofts, holy water stoups, and images in stone, wood and glass and on plate.
In late 1643 and 1644, during the Civil
War in England, he visited parish churches, breaking up pictures, crosses,
crucifixes, stained glass, monumental brasses, and altar rails.
1643. Feb. 23. At Mr. [Capt.] Waldegraves
Chapel, in Buers [Smallbridge Hall chapel, Bures St Mary], there was a
picture of God the Father, and divers other superstitious pictures, 20
at least, which they promised to break, his daughter and servants. He
himself was not at home, neither could they find the key of the chapel.
I had not the 6s. 8d. yet promised it. And gave order to take down a cross.
to be continued and amended as required