Our Patron Saint – St Edmund, King & 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 Edmund’s Shrine, and the town became known as St Edmund’s Bury – Bury St Edmund’s.

Image:  St Edmund Banner – Designed and worked by Wendy Oakeshott

Our Patron Saint – St Edmund

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 Ramsey’s devotion to the brave local Saint, Edmund, should have been reflected in the parish church’s dedication.

To the left is the Window above the Chancel Arch