Towards the end of Elizabeth’s reign, an extreme branch of the Protestant religion was becoming more popular. They called themselves Puritans.

This picture clearly shows the simple, plain clothing worn by the Puritans. Their clothing was usually black, white or grey and they lived a simple and religious life. The importance of religion to the Puritans is shown in the picture by the woman carrying a Bible. They believed that hard work was the key to gaining a place in heaven. Sundays and Holy days were strictly observed, with these days being devoted entirely to God.

Throughout the reign of James I the Puritans gained power in Parliament. By the time of Charles I’s reign they had gained enough support in Parliament to pass laws imposing their views about living on all English people.

Activities Banned by the Puritans:

Horse Racing, cock-fighting and bear baiting

Any gathering of people without permission

Drunkenness and swearing

Theatre-going, dancing and singing

Games and sports on Sundays (including going for a walk)

Gambling

Visiting brothels

Many public houses were closed down.

Puritan Religion

The Puritans were fiercely anti-Catholic and believed that churches should be plain and free from all kinds of ornament. They believed that all mankind was basically sinful, but that some would be saved because of Christ’s death. Central to their belief was the act of conversion. Conversion could take two forms – either a blinding flash during which the converted could cry out or fall to the ground – or it could be the end result of a period of preparation. Puritans believed that discipline was a vital part of human life and that frivolity was a sign of giving in to temptation.

Presbyterian church

This modern-day Presbyterian church would have been acceptable to the Puritans of the seventeenth century. It is built in a plain stone with wooden panelling and pews. There is no elaborate decoration, just a plain cross above the altar and a cross on the wooden pulpit.