Saint Edmund, Downham Market, Norfolk

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St Edmund Banner - Designed and worked by Wendy Oakeshott
St Edmund Banner - Designed and worked by Wendy Oakeshott

OUR PATRON SAINT -
SAINT EDMUND, KING AND MARTYR

Born around AD 841 of Saxon stock, Edmund was brought up as a Christian and became King of the East Angles whilst still a youth in 865. He was a holy Christian Monarch, serving his people with pastoral care. And is best remembered for bravely trying to resist a Danish (Viking) invasion 869-70, but was defeated at the battle of Hoxne (near Diss, Norfolk) and taken prisoner. He refused to renounce the Christian faith and serve as a puppet king, so was tied to a tree and shot to death with arrows, hence the symbol associated with St. Edmund, the crown and arrows.

Originally buried near the site of his death, in c903 his remains were translated to the local administrative town of Beodricsworth and were there enshrined. A large Benedictine Abbey grew up around St Edmundís Shrine, and the town became known as St Edmundís Bury Ė Bury St Edmundís.


WHY ST EDMUND AS PATRON SAINT OF THE CHURCH IN DOWNHAM MARKET?

From very early times Downham Market was associated with the Benedictine Abbey of Ramsey, 40 miles away across the fens to the west in modern day Cambridgeshire. For many centuries until the Reformation, the Abbot of Ramsey had right of presentation of the Rectors of Downham Market.

Ramsey Abbey was founded in AD 969 (exactly a century after the death of St Edmund) and grew into a major Benedictine monastery.

From its beginnings Ramsey had a great devotion to Edmund, even commissioning a fine illuminated Life of St Edmund to be written in AD 975. It is commonly held locally that there was a smaller Benedictine house in Downham itself (Priory Road). Because of the close connection of Downham Market (town and church) with Ramsey Abbey from its beginnings, it seems perfectly reasonable that Ramseyís devotion to the brave local Saint, Edmund, should have been reflected in the parish churchís dedication.


Window above the Chancel Arch
Window above the Chancel Arch
You can find our more about Ramsey and its Abbey by clicking here
To read a mediaeval Life of St Edmund, by Abbo of Fleury, click here

ST EDMUND IN CHURCH ART

St Edmund was a popular subject for Church Art in the Mediaeval period.  The following parish churches contain wall paintings depicting St Edmund - either his martyrdom or crowned.

Click on the names for details of each (links to the website www.paintedchurch.org).

Boxford, Suffolk,  Lakenheath, Suffolk (where Fr Mather was previously Vicar)Bishopsthorne, KentFritton, NorfolkGisleham, SuffolkPickering, North YorkshireStoke Dry, RutlandTroston, SuffolkWeare Giffard, Devon