President’s Blog: 8th August 2022
We soon seem to have reached August! Hopefully this is a time of recharging the batteries, of rest and relaxation and this week I have taken the opportunity to go walking. On Monday I met friends from a Staffordshire Moorlands Primary School, where I taught, and we walked in the beautiful Churnet Valley. On Thursday, we tackled the next stage of the MWiB Pilgrimage, The Two Saints’ Way, (St. Chad and St. Werburgh) from Tittensor to Stone. We met at St. Luke’s Church where we were greeted with open arms, coffee and toast and given a guided tour of the beautiful church.
It was a lovely day, just right for walking through the beautiful Staffordshire countryside. We passed Saxon’s Lowe, the burial mound of King Wulphere, the Saxon King of Mercia, and a hill fort which had been a significant junction where travellers going north either headed for Chester, North Wales and Ireland or to Scotland. After crossing the River Trent, we walked along the towpath into Stone to visit the church of St Michael and St. Wulfad’s, where we learned of the legends surrounding the area.
Wulphere, a pagan, became a ‘temporary’ Christian in order to marry Ermenild, a Christian Princess. They had three children, two boys named Wulfad and Rufin, who were raised as pagans and a daughter, Weburgh, who was raised as a Christian. One day Wulfad was out hunting when he was stopped by a hermit, St. Chad, and was welcomed into his cave. Wulfad and Rufin secretly visited the cave and soon were converted to Christianity and baptised. A disgruntled pagan suitor of Werburgh, was seeking revenge and suspected that the boys had become Christians when he saw them talking to St.Chad. He returned to King Wulphere, betraying the boys saying not only had they become Christians but they were plotting to kill the king. Ermenild and Werburgh, took the bodies and buried them under a pile of stones and this is said to be why the township was called ‘Stone’. When Wulphere realised what he had done, he was filled with remorse and asked St. Chad for absolution. He renounced his pagan beliefs and became the first Christian King of Mercia. Ermenild and Wulphere founded a monastery in Stone in honour of their two sons which became a centre of pilgrimage. Pilgrims and the infirm visiting carried stones with them to the monastery.
People visiting the church yard had left stones on the graves . When we returned to St. Luke’s , there were stones along the church wall that had been decorated for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and shells – a sign of pilgrimage!
However you spend your time this summer, I hope you will find time to rest relax and to explore the Christian history in your area.