The church played a unique role in the early days of the Reformation. A group of evangelicals in Cambridge, of whom Thomas Bilney was the first, had been meeting regularly in the early 1520s. They were influenced by a fresh translation of the New Testament by Erasmus and by the ideas of Luther and believed passionately in the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ.
At the Christmas Midnight Mass at St Edward's in 1525 one of them, Robert Barnes preached what was probably the first openly evangelical sermon to be preached in any church in the country, proclaiming the Christian gospel and accusing the Church of its heresies. St Edward's can thus claim to be 'the cradle of the Reformation?'in England. Other reformers preached regularly at St Edward's, including Hugh Latimer until he left Cambridge in 1531. Some of his sermons preached here have been preserved, and the pulpit from which the reformers preached is still in use.