By far the shortest of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England is the third, ‘Of the going down of Christ into Hell’. In its entirety it reads: ‘As Christ died for us, and was buried, so also is it to be believed, that he went down into Hell’. One might be forgiven for thinking that the brevity of the article, together with the notable absence of polemic, indicates the doctrine’s relative unimportance amid the other great debates of the day. In fact, the descent of Christ into hell was one of the most controverted of all the creedal articles in the Reformation era. Article III is so short, not because it was a routine recital of the Apostles’ Creed, but because no further elaboration or explanation of the doctrine could command consent in the febrile climate of early Elizabethan England: disagreement over what was meant by ‘hell’, what was meant by Christ’s ‘descent’, and over the doctrine’s fundamental significance, was rife. This particular manifestation of the afterlife – be it only Christ’s afterlife, and only a temporary destination at that – is not the most obvious candidate as a theological cause célèbre of the Reformation era. But the intensity and the longevity of trie debates it fuelled make it at least an intriguing footnote to the study of the period.