Hoxne Heritage Group

Hoxne village hall

Last night I spoke to the Hoxne Heritage Group on the theme ‘Where is St Edmund?’, examining the different theories regarding the fate of the body of St Edmund after the Reformation, as dealt with in my book Where is St Edmund? (2014). I was especially delighted to be speaking in Hoxne’s rather remarkable Village Hall, which was designed by James Kellaway Colling in a mock ‘Anglo-Saxon’ style in 1879. The hall is located next to the celebrated Goldbrook Bridge, under which a local legend says that St Edmund hid from the Danes, and there is even a roundel on the Village Hall depicting the scene. The Hall was commissioned by Sir Edward Kerrison, 2nd Baronet, who also arranged for a memorial to be erected on the site where, in 1848, an ancient oak tree fell down and was found to have an iron arrowhead embedded in the trunk. Hoxne has claimed to be the martyrdom site of St Edmund since the eleventh century (part of a long-running feud between the Bishops of Norwich and the Abbots of Bury St Edmunds), and has its own unique traditions about the saint (most notably the Goldbrook story), but interest in the saint was revived in the village by the discovery of the arrowhead, which led local residents to conclude they had discovered the very tree against which St Edmund was martyred.

Hoxne’s claims to be the true martyrdom site are dubious by contemporary historical standards, but the fact remains that Hoxne is probably the only place in Suffolk where the cult of St Edmund – in the sense of stories told about him – has continued unbroken since the Reformation.

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