Wuffing Education Study Day: ‘Seeking the Body of St Edmund’

St Sernin Painting
St Edmund as protector of the city of Toulouse, from the Basilica of Saint-Sernin (c. 1540)


Yesterday I led a study day at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, entitled ‘Seeking the Body of St Edmund’ for Wuffing Education. The day was attended by 20 people and I delivered four sessions throughout the day. I was delighted to meet so many enthusiastic individuals interested in the cult of St Edmund, especially David Addy, the man behind the brilliant St Edmundsbury Chronicle. In addition to the images that accompanied my papers, I also brought along a few artefacts, including a coin actually minted in Edmund’s reign (to illustrate the historicity of the man behind the legend), copies of the earliest printed books about Bury St Edmunds by John Battely and George Ashby, a medal struck to commemorate the 1907 historical pageant re-telling the story of St Edmund, and an embroidered chasuble depicting St Edmund and his instruments of martyrdom, which may have been made for the arrival of St Edmund’s supposed relics at Arundel Castle in 1901.

My first talk focussed on the cult of St Edmund in its final phase before 1539, examining the relative strength of devotion to St Edmund in comparison with other East Anglian and national cults at the time. After break, my second talk continued the story by looking at how both Catholics and Protestants reinterpreted the hagiography of St Edmund after the Reformation. My third talk after lunch looked at St Edmund from the perspective of folklore and popular memory, while my fourth and final talk addressed the question of what happened to the body of St Edmund after 1539, the subject of my book Where is St Edmund? published in 2014.

Copies of all of the papers can be downloaded from my page by following the links above.

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