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The Popish Plot

With the establishment of the Protestant Church as the state religion of England and particularly after the plot against James I st. known as the Gunpowder Plot; to attempt to adhere to the Catholic faith in England became a very dangerous thing to do . Catholiscm was ostensibly driven underground and adherents practiced their faith in secret constantly in fear of imprisonment and possible death.

When Walter Aston Lord of the manor of Colton had been ambassador to Spain for James  I, he had converted to Catholiscm. Upon his return to Colton from Spain, the majority of the household and those who worked for him followed his lead and also became practicing Catholics as was the convention in those days. His son Herbert Aston who built and lived at Bellamour, also converted. 

In 1678 an infamous character called Titus Oates began broadcasting to all and sundry that he knew of a new Catholic plot to kill the king- this time Charles II. His evidence came from the testimony of a man called Dugdale who had been an employee of Lord Stafford. He claimed that Lord Stafford was the prime plotter but was aided by others including Herbert Aston and that part of the plot had been hatched at Bellamour Hall. All the alleged plotters were arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Image: photo of Bellamour Hall

The ruins of Bellamour where the plot was supposedly partly hatched!

Lord Stafford was tried and the evidence mainly of Dugdale, was enough to condemn him to death. This was was duly carried out. However, fortunately before Lord Aston was brought to trial, the allegations were revealed as a hoax and Lord Aston was released. 

What the whole episode illustrated was the fear England had in the late 17th and all through the 18th Century that the country would return to Catholiscm as the religion of the State.

  More about Religion in Colton
  The Parish Church of St. Mary
History of the church from documentary evidence. (click for more)
  Colton's Involvement in the 17th. Century Popish Plot
'A plot to kill the king!' (click for more)
  Methodism in Colton
An account of the Methodist in Colton. (click for more)
  Colton records of births, deaths and marriages
Records going back to the 17th. Century. (click for more)