10 Things You May Not Know About St Edmund

Bury St Edmunds takes its name from King Edmund, the original Patron Saint of England and King of East Anglia, but what else do we know?

1. Edmund was crowned King of East Anglia at Bures in Essex on Christmas Day 855.

2. Edmund died on 20 November 869, now marked as St Edmund’s Day. He refused to give up his Christian faith and so was tied to a tree and shot full of arrows before being beheaded.

3. Edmund is the patron of Kings, pandemics, the Roman Catholic diocese of East Anglia, Douai Abbey, wolves, torture victims, protection from the plague.

4. It is still a mystery where Edmund was killed. In 1101 Haegelisdun (or Hellesden) is mentioned as being the spot where Edmund was martyred. For many years Hoxne claimed this honour. Another theory is that it is Bradfield St Clare, south of Bury St Edmunds. 

5. One miracle attributed to Saint Edmund tells the story of a blind man with a boy who sheltered overnight in the chapel who left in the morning with his eyesight restored.

6. By 1014, the formidable Danish warrior Sweyn Forkbeard, had seized most of England and proclaimed himself King. According to legend, the people’s prayers to St Edmund were answered when Sweyn cried out in agony early one morning ‘I am struck by St Edmund’ and died.

7. St Edmund's shrine at the Abbey of St Edmund in Bury St Edmunds became one of the most famous and wealthy pilgrimage locations in England. For centuries the shrine was visited by various kings of England, many of whom gave generously to the abbey. 

8. The Abbey of St Edmund was destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. Edmund’s bejewelled shrine was plundered but Edmund’s body was missing and his whereabouts remain a great mystery today.

9. In his book Edmund – In Search of England’s Lost King, Historian Dr Francis Young explores the theory that St Edmund may be buried in the monks’ cemetery which lies beneath the tennis courts in the Abbey Gardens and consecrated ground.

10. Churches dedicated to his memory are to be found all over England, including St Edmund the King and Martyr's Church in London, designed by Sir Christopher Wren during the 1670s. Edmund's martyrdom features on several medieval wall-paintings to be found in churches across England.

Click here to read more about the story of St Edmund

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