Terrible Dick’s Terrible Fate

Terrible Dick is the name given to a decayed, oaken statue currently chained to a wall of Holy Trinity Church at Millom, Cumbria. At first, I assumed it was some damaged pre-reformation relic, which had managed to evade the attentions of reformer and puritan alike. In fact, it was a wooden funerary monument to one of the lords of nearby Millom castle, Sir Richard Hudleston. The broken figure bears evidence of plate armour having been attached to it, and this Richard was knighted at Agincourt Battle in 1415. According to the church’s official history, this warlike character was known to be a persecutor of lollards, the evangelical followers of John Wycliffe. Notwithstanding the threat early lollardy posed to the established social order, which Sir Dickie Hudleston was expected to defend, this man harmed and hunted the beloved people of God. I wonder if this funerary effigy is now similar enough to his soul: broken, decayed and beyond recognition.


Persecutors appear strong and valiant in their day but death and hell expose them for what they really are: ugly and broken, eaten up by hatred and sin. I saw evidence of woodworm in the old oak and was reminded of the worm that dieth not (Mark 9:44). The persecuted Christian appears weak and pathetic as he dies, but death exposes him, too, as a glorious prince of Israel.


Terrible Dick’s son was appointed ‘keeper and bailiff of the king's woods and chases in Barnoldewicke, in the county of York’. I wonder how he’d feel knowing there are plenty of lollards living there now.

Blessed be ye, when men shall curse you, and shall pursue you and shall say all evil against you lying, for me.

Matthew 5:11, Wycliffe’s New Testament.