When the Danes invaded England around 800 AD the Saxon King Edmund fought to maintain the fort at Bury (in the East of England) and alas he ended up slashed by a Viking sword.
His head was said to be found in a nearby woodland and was fiercely guarded by a wolf. Saxon soldiers battled the loyal and fierce wolf to take the severed head back to be buried in the Abbey grounds. Eventually the wolf let the King’s men take the remains as the Vikings had gone. The head was buried along with the slaughtered body of the deceased English King. When the body was later moved it was said that the head had mysteriously become reattached to the body. Edmund’s body was buried at Bury St Edmund’s in 900 AD.
St Edmund’s story is inspired by his legendary strength and he was the patron Saint of England until the 14th Century. This unnerving story shines out during this Halloween weekend.
Visiting St Edmundsbury Cathedral (an old Saxon Abbey that had court houses and a fort attached) brings many historic stories to life and creates a chill to think of the fighting that took place here.
The rebuilt portion of the Abbey shows true beauty and ornate carvings and has a new millennium tower. The organ is magnificient.
The gardens pin point where the monks would have tended gardens that supported the Abbey community.
Around the garden are ruins that mark the locations where some of the many properties of the Abbey stood. The monks would be involved with the administration of the dozens of buildings that were owned and managed by the church.
The window opposite the main altar has impressive detail that tells the unsettling story of Susanna and the Elders from the Apochrypha. Susanna survived an unsavoury encounter whilst bathing and experienced a happy ending to her plight at the very last minute.
Thankfully a light shone at the end of the tunnel for this biblical heroine.
The cloisters offers the treat of tranquility, being parallel to the busy town of Bury St Edmunds yet a world away.
Pilgrims still visit the Abbey to light candles and offer a traditional prayer for those in need of comfort.
The Nave was built by John Wastell in 1503.
This Halloween weekend seemed a good time to retell this historic story of violence, conflict and intrigue that marked the end of Saxon reign in Britain.
Wishing you a wonderful Halloween weekend!