Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Ring out the bells for St Edmund

Today, November 20th, is St Edmund's Day. I'm listening to BBC Radio Suffolk this morning in my studio, and apparently Suffolk is ringing out the bells from steeples all over the county for our patron saint. If the wind's in the right direction I might hear distant peals, but the bells in the tower I can see from the window have long been silent.

The Martyrdom of St Edmund by Brian Whelan
which hangs in St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Edmund ruled East Anglia between 855 and 869, during a period we used to call 'The Dark Ages' and skip over in the history books, but we now know it was a time of great creativity, trade and culture which were shared across Europe; as well as a time when Kings and Queens vied for power. In the 9th century Danish raiders attacked East Anglia, there were horrific massacres and the rulers of the various English kingdoms tried to defend their lands. Edmund king of the East Angles probably died in one of the battles, but a more interesting version of his death turned him into a Christian martyr. The story said that during one raid Edmund hid under a bridge, but his shining golden spurs reflected in the water below and he was captured. The Danes (or Vikings as we used to refer to them) tied Edmund to an oak tree and fired arrows into him so he resembled a hedgehog. They then cut off his head and threw it into the woods.

The story gets more fabulous in the next episode . . . Edmund's friends came looking for him and heard something calling "hic, hic" (you all knew that means 'he is here' in latin, didn't you!) and they found a wolf protecting Edmund's head between her paws! There's more – when they reunited Edmund's head with his body it welded together with just a faint red scar – must be a saint then! The king's body was buried in a monastery in a small town called Bedericesworth, pilgrims traveled from far and wide to visit his shrine and began to call the place 'St Edmund's Bury' (a nice little earner for the abbey church and the inn-keepers).

My first task today is to do my bit for the community in this far corner of St Edmund's realm – wearing my 'Editor's hat' I'm completing the pages, and sending the file to be printed, for the bumper Christmas and New Year edition of our village's magazine. After that I have to make sure that everything is ready for my stall at Saturday's Christmas Bazaar in the local Village Hall.


  1. I love History in context like that, brings places alive in my opinion.

    Love all your goodies too, I shall have to have a peek in your shop again.

    Oh and cheers for the cuppa .... just what the Dr ordered - well almost :o)

  2. That's a fascinating bit of history... love it! Hope the bazaar goes well for you. I've a Christmas open day at home that I'm not at all prepared for!

  3. Have a happy St Edmund's day, makes me think of "Blackadder"!

    Good luck with your stall, I have your angels and bears here in my studio, ready to hang this Christmas.

  4. Thanks for sharing that story, very interesting! Love the picture too. Your cards, angels look so nice!

  5. I hope you did hear the bells ring out - what a lovely idea. Too many special days in the calendar seem to pass unheeded and uncelebrated. Your stall for the Christmas Bazaar looked most interesting and I hope it was a great success.

  6. Your baskets look lovely all piled up with goodies - hope it goes well on Saturday!

  7. I guess you would think that spending 6 years at a school called St Edmund's would have resulted in just a little knowledge of said saint. But apparently not! Thank you for filling that hole in my education.

  8. I "ditto" Pamela. (I wonder how many schools there are in the UK with that name?)

    I love the way you told this story. It made me smile and there was a touch of the Monty Python about it. - Oh! I just read Acornmoon's comment... a touch of Blackadder too.

  9. So where was your St Edmund's Casalba? Mine was in Liverpool.

  10. Miss P1 is sitting on my knee - she spooted the pictures of your goods for the bazaar, 'Oh Mummy there's our special book!'. One satisfied customer.

    Wonderful facts about St Edmund. What an interesting character.

  11. Bury St Edmunds was my market town when I holidayed in Caversham.
    Just over the back boundary was/is? one of only 5 round towered churches remaining.(After 1066 I think they were all Norman square-towered.)

  12. Hi Zoe - that reminds me. must put more things for sale in the Etsy shop!

    Hi Gina - I hope your open day was a success!

    Hi Acornmoon - Blackaddder in search of King Edmund's head - that would have been a great storyline!

    Thank you Artslice - the new cards use the same blocks as the tree decorations.

    Hi Heather - sadly I didn't hear the bells except via the radio!

    Hi Sarah and Jon - I was pleased with Saturday's Bazaar.

    Pamela - in Suffolk King Edmund is being revived into a local hero!

    Casalba - I can see the connection too!

    Hi Silverpebble and the eagle-eyed Miss P1 - well spotted!!!!

    Moreidlethoughts - are there really only 5 round towered churches left! We regularly walk past one of them.



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