Story time! As son of a pagan Dane, from Bury St Edmunds, you can see my interest!
I wrote this years ago – in places I use Suffolk dialect, and it’s written from the perspective of someone in 1220 Bury St Edmunds….
‘This is the tale of Saint Edmund, long regarded as the Patron Saint of England, though I understand some Crusaders pay reverence to St. George who slayed the dragon’ he announces… ‘though I have heard that owd George was foreigner!’
‘Some say four hundred years ago King Alcmund was King of Saxony, across the North Sea from here. He had no heir on account of the fact he kicked his missus when she was pregnant, and needing a son decided to go on pilgrimage to Rome and make amends. While there he was a staying in the house of a widow of noble estate, and she did see a brilliant burst of light like the sun burst from his chest and prophesied that he would give birth to a child whose fame should like the sun reach all four corners of the Earth. When he got back his missus Siawara got with sprog roight quick and gave birth to young Edmund.
Over ‘ere King Offa of East Anglia, for we was a nation in our own right then, had no son because his heir Fremund had got it into his head to become an hermit! Thus Offa had to go a looking for an heir, and went off on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On the way he stopped at Alcmund’s, and thought Edmund a fine fellow, so when he died on his way back he left word and his ring that Edmund was to be the new King.
Young Edmund took leave of his father who was right sad to see the young bor go, and sailed to England landing at Hunstanton in Norfolk. Where he
landed he gave praise to God for his safe journey and twelve sweet crystal springs sprung up out of the ground; to this very day they cure the sick
and folks take the water away in skins for those who be a needing it.
He was a good and wise King – by the time he was thirteen he knew his Latin Psalter off by heart, and at fourteen he came to be crowned King of East Anglia. During the year he prepared for his crowning he lived at Attleborough, and his crowning was carried out by Bishop Humbert who anointed him on Christmas Day with the Holy Oil, he having scarce a month turned fifteen.
The coronation was held at Bures near Sudbury, where a royal palace stood in those days… The site where he was crowned is now the Church of St.Stephen on the hill overlooking the River Stour.
For ten whole years he ruled justly and well, as it is said –
‘Against poor folk shut not was his gate,
His wardrobe open all needs to relieve,
Such royal mercy did his heart move
To clothe the naked and the hungry feed,
And sent he alms to folk that lay bed ridden.’
Then two Danish brothers, evildoers and Pagans, named Hubba and Inguar invaded and landed at King’s Lynn with a huge army. This is how that came to be –
Some years before King Lothparck., the father of the Danish brothers was blown in a gale to the coast of East Anglia. He was received at Edmund’s
court and treated royally as his status deserved, and taken hunting by Edmund and his huntsman Beorn. Lothparck was a brilliant huntsmen and
every one admired him; this fair put Edmund’s hunter Beorn’s nose out of joint! When Lothparck went off to take a ship home Beorn waylaid him in
the woods and murdered him.
Lothparck’s faithful greyhound uncovered his master’s body, and Edmund was furious. He sentenced Beorn to be set adrift in a boat, and this was done
Fate however blew the exiled Beorn straight across the North Sea to Denmark. There he laid the blame for Lothparck’s death not on himself but
on Good King Edmund! The Brothers swore to avenge their father and set off for England.
The Danes rampaged up to Scotland, burning York and sacking Ely. Then
they made their way down to Thetford, where they made a great camp, and prepared to finish the business that had brought them here in the first
place. The King’s army fought well, but they were few, and the Danish
army thousands strong. Finally there was a great battle and to avert
further killing Edmund was forced to flee. He hid under Hoxne bridge, but a bride and groom crossing to their wedding saw him and betrayed him to the Danes, and as a result the bridge is cursed so no newlyweds will cross it to this day. Edmund was surrounded and meekly surrendered himself to their mercy, but they had none.
They demanded he should surrender his treasure, and reign as a subordinate King. Bishop Humbert tried to persuade him to give up, but he refused, unless Inguar accepted Christ as his Saviour and became a Christian. Edmund was tied to a tree and shot full of arrows, and then “haggled all over by the sharp points of their darts, and scarce able to draw breath, he actually bristled with them like a hedgehog.” He continued to call upon Christ, so they struck off his head and carried it into Haeglisdun Wood where they threw it in a thicket.
The following Spring the Danes had left and the East Anglians went looking for the head. They found it miraculously preserved, with a wolf guarding it
who led them the head by it’s howls. The wolf gave up the head, and it was carried off to join the body – when the two were put together they
miraculously reunited with only a thin thread like red seam showing where he had been martyred. The saint’s body was brought to Bury, and the
pilgrims visit the Shrine to this day.
Many kings have paid tribute to Edmund – Edward the Confessor took him as his personal saint, and too many miracles have happened to tell ye all now. Canute was a great follower of the Saint; his own father was struck dead by the wrath of the Saint when he threatened to lay hands on the shrine, and that is how it came to be that Canute gave the Liberty of Saint Edmund to the Abbey at Bury and that the Abbot rules us as the rest of the land is ruled by the King, on behalf of the King.
I think I have shown that Saint Edmund was a Glorious Saint and Martyr andmuch better than anything London town can provide talk of!’
This is really excellent CJ. Funnily enough I wrote an essay on ”St Edmund and Anglo-Saxon Martyrs” for my Orthodox Studies Certificate. Not as poetic or enjoyable to read as yours though!
I need som help from you on a case I Norway. You we have i church called St jetmund church and we think this church has is name from Edmund.
This church is very close to St Sunniva on the island Selja. St sunniva olso is a female saint from England.
In the wall of St Jetmund church we have a strange Cross over the side door. It seems to stand up side down. We find that very strange on a church. On the Coins of St Edmund we find a verson of this cross and find that very interesting.
I enclose a link to our Church.
This Site state that the cross is a Maltesercross, but we now ofcourse that our cross is older and maybe a verson of the cross we find on the Coins.
Do you now something about all this? I will bee very happy if you had something on this.
I’m just going out so I will have a proper look when I return home. I have not had a chance to look at the cross yet, but an inverted cross has only really been associated with Satanism for, well I’m not sure – I know it goes back to Dennis Wheatley and the 1950’s, but I’m guessing it’s medieval or reformation era? However the originally iconography usually indicates a Church dedicated to St. Peter, who was crucified upside down according to legend, so that is almost certainly what the cross meant originally. I’ll have a look though, and certainly look this up! Fun anyway, and I rather dull compared to the possibility of some “Count Magnus” (a short story by M.R. James, you will find it on the web) wickedness! Hope of some use, will reply properly later. 🙂
This was funny but I’d like to tell you that we don’t talk at all like that in suffolk. And it is a little offensive to be honest.
Oh and I’ve never seen any pilgrims travelling to St Edmunds shrine…
No you won’t – it’s written as if the person speaking was in 1220. Nowadays we just get tourists! lol! Nice to meet you by the way. 🙂
Sorry if I offended you but my mother does! I actually based it on her and my accent. West Suffolk, Bury dialect – and yes it is pretty much dead since the 1960’s when the overspill arrived from London, then the massive influx of new folks from the seventies and eighties. There are of course several distinct Suffolk dialects – I was aiming for “Old Bury”, but if the Rising Sun still stands on Westgate Street a few of the oldest inhabitants may still speak it. I’m Bury born and bred, so I know how rare it is now. Be sin ya. 🙂 x
Ooh Christian! You’ll get the Order of the Knights of St Edmund down on you. Mind you, they cursed the new development on the site of the cattle market, and that didn’t seem to work, so you may be safe after all.
Please see the website as regards the on-going effects
http://knightsofsaintedmund.org of the curse of St Edmund
I think Alan is too busy with Poltergeists these days? Actually one poor fellow did die after the curse – I happened to know people from both the developers and the locals, but the only Knight I have met was Alan! I was a bit surprised when I bumped in to him at Conference 🙂
Well perhaps I was wrong about the curse’s efficacy, though this sounds more like Britain 2009 than the specific effects of a curse. No mention of dead councillors though:
Yeah, I think I made a passing reference to it, very sad indeed, but hardly curse related as he had been ill for a long time. Still, one thing can be said – th Knights were right it seems – a straw poll of a my relatives shows NONE of them still shop in Bury since the cattle market car park went, mum prefers to drive the sixteen miles to Thetford to shop now. And she has lived all her nearly four score years in Bury…
Still I expect plenty of other people who are more able to cope with change did, and the place is thriving – unlike St. Edmund’s Fayre I think it was called, a short lived shopping arcade which was there when I went home one year, and when I returned a year later had vanished so throughly I really was considering calling the Spontaneous Cases Committee, till it turned out the whole development had been demolished and replaced by an Iceland! 🙂
Alan clearly has not spotted my blog yet, perhaps luckily! I am wondering who the Knights are – Biz is in Leicester, Q in Cheltenham, but the other Mr. James would love this I think — and I’m sure some of my old mates, the NAH would have played given the chance. Bury has always had a radical, yet strangely conservative with a small ‘c’, element – like the deeply moral rural anarchists of Civil War Barcelona maybe. It’s probably the smell from the sugar beet factory does it. 😉
Thanks for the link Tom. I noticed the Telegraph made a glaring error: St. Edmund’s Day is Novemeber 20th ‘as any fule kno’, not the 19th as the article suggests. Really,, what is the world coming to?
CJ, aka ‘Hagiographically Aggrieved’ of Cheltenham Spa x