Welcome to our school website!

St. Edmund's C of E Primary and Nursery School

A journey to discover 'life in all its fullness'. John 10:10

Who was St. Edmund?

The Tale of Saint Edmund and Ivar the Boneless

Ivar the Boneless

He loved the Moribund,

He shot a hundred arrows,

Into poor Edmund.


It is said that Saint Edmund, King and Martyr, was the original Patron Saint of England, long before Saint George.

A patron (or patroness) saint is regarded as a heavenly advocate who prays to God on our behalf when we are sick, in trouble, or in need of help.


Because the Parish Church in Mansfield Woodhouse is dedicated to Saint Edmund, our little school on the hill above the church, is also dedicated to him.


Edmund was born on Christmas day in the year 841. In days of old, the nation of England was divided into many small nations, like ‘Mercia’, (where Mansfield Woodhouse belonged), ‘Wessex’ in the south of England, and ‘Anglia’ in the east. Many times these small nations had to defend their lands from invaders like the Vikings who came to steal their things and cause trouble.


A Christian from birth, Edmund was crowned king of East Anglia in 856 when he was only 15 years old. He was soon called upon by his people to defend the kingdom from the troublesome Vikings, but he was soon captured by a hideous Viking warlord known as ‘Ivar the Boneless’ who tried to get Edmund to renounce his Christian faith and bow down to the Viking gods.


Ivar the Boneless (real name Ivar Ragnarsson) was a Viking warlord who ruled over parts of what is now known as Denmark and Sweden. He was reputed to be a ‘Beserker’ – a Viking warrior who fought in a trance like state that made them very ferocious in battle.


It is said that Ivar had soft cartilage instead of hard bones that made him a bit wobbly, but otherwise he was a handsome giant of a man! An old poem describes him as; ‘being without any bones at all, and that he was carried about by his soldiers on a huge shield’. I guess this made him a bit cantankerous to say the least!


Viking religious beliefs encouraged cruelty to the followers of Christ, who they saw as cowards. Edmund bravely refused to renounce his Christian faith, declaring that; ‘his religion was dearer to him than his life’. To see if this was true or not, Ivar and his followers beat him with heavy clubs as he called upon the name of Jesus. Then they tied him to a tree, and shot arrows into poor Edmund, until he was dead. If that wasn’t enough, finally they chopped off his head and threw it into a Bramble bush. The date was November 20th869. He was. It is said that his head was later found by a talking Wolf who called out; ‘Hic, hic, hic’ (here, here, here) to alert Edmunds followers who proceeded to unite the head to his body, that was then hidden for safe keeping, until it could be buried properly later. Edmund was eventually buried n Bedricsworth (now modern Bury St Edmunds), where a religious community was founded to care for his shrine which soon became a popular place for Pilgrims to visit, and Saint Edmund was adopted as the Patron Saint of England for a time. A permanent stone Abbey was built and the town became very wealthy as the cult of St Edmunds grew.


The influence of St Edmund eventually started to fade, when during the third Crusade in 1199, King Richard 1st visited the tomb of St George in Lydda, in the Holy Land (now modern Israel and Palestine), on the eve of a battle. The following day he won a great victory and following his triumph, Richard adopted St George as his personal patron and protector of his army.


Flag of St George


Although the popular banner of Saint Edmund, which is a white Dragon on a red background, was still carried into battle, St Edmunds popularity as the Patron Saint of England eventually grew less, and St George became the Patron saint of all England.


Banner of St Edmund


Today Edmunds Relics, (bones) are said to be in a small private chapel in Arundel Castle in West Sussex on the south coast of England. Next time you’re in or around the Bognor Regis area why not visit Arundel Castle and go on a pilgrimage of your own? His Feast day is on November 20th - time for a party?!