St Edmund, or rather plain King Edmund of East Anglia as he then was, had had a bad day – his forces getting beaten by the Danish Great Heathen Army at the battle of Hoxne (Suffolk).
Fleeing the battlefield, he is said to have hidden under Goldbrook Bridge, near Hoxne. However, a newly married couple crossing the bridge saw the glint of his golden spurs reflected in the water of the River Dove, and betrayed him to the Danish troops who were out searching for him.
As he was dragged away to be executed, Edmund shouted out an angry curse on all bridal couples who should ever cross the bridge, and its said that until well into the 19th century wedding parties went out of the way to avoid doing so.
And they say that the gleam of his spurs can be seen from the bridge on moonlit nights….
For a while, Edmund got the top local job as Patron Saint of England… until Edward III in the 14th century replaced him by associating Saint George with the Order ofthe Garter. Edward III believed that England should have a fearless champion as its patron saint and not a king who was defeated in battle, or maybe executed after it.
It always amuses me somewhat that extreme right-wingers who proudly fly the St George’s cross flag and fulminate about ‘foreigners coming here and taking our jobs‘ fail totally to realise that St George was a foreigner who came over here and took an English saint’s job…
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