b'St EdithKate PrattT he church in Bishop Wilton is dedicated to Stthere is a second St Edith! St Edith of Polesworth Edith of Wilton. Feeling that there must be somewas the great-aunt of St Edith of Wilton and sister reason for this, that it could not just be coincidence,of Athelstan. There are 15 churches dedicated to St I started looking for a link between Bishop WiltonEdith of Polesworth, across Staffordshire, Cheshire, and Wilton in Wiltshire. This has involved researchShropshire and Lincolnshire. It is possible that their into church dedications, St Ediths life and back intolocations reveal a pilgrim trail.history for any connectionand it was there to be found. Village FeastDedications We do, however, definitely know that our church is not dedicated to St Edith of Polesworth but to St There is only one other church dedicated to StEdith of Wilton, thanks to the survival of the tradition Edith of Wilton, and that is at Baverstock, a tinyof celebrating the Saints Day as a village feast. St hamlet of 20 houses about 4 miles from Wilton.Edith of Polesworth died on July 15th 964. St Edith of There was a third church dedicated to St Edith atWilton died on Sept 16th 984; the preceding daythe Limpley Stoke near Bath which lasted for 500 years,Vigil of St Edithis commemorated as her feast day. but the dedication was changed to St Mary in theWe are lucky enough to have reference to a document 16th century. In her seminal work Studies in Churchdated 22nd September 1441 3which confirms the Dedications, or Englands Patron Saints written indate of Bishop Wiltons feast day:1899, Frances Arnold-Forster lists all 3 places Whereas, the feast of the dedication of the parish Baverstock, Limpley Stoke and Bishop WiltonasChurch of Bishop Wilton was wont to be kept on the having churches dedicated to St Edith. fifteenth of September yearly, now, in regard the said The listing of church dedications is notday of dedication fell in autumn, when people were straightforward. Patron saints are selected for manybusy about their harvest, John, Archbishop of York, reasonsthere may be a local connection, thethen translated the said feast of dedication until the parish church may be linked to a nearby monasterySunday then next ensuing, every year solemnly to be and honour the same saint, the naming maycelebrated.commemorate a visit by a missionary saint, or theIt is fortunate that this early evidence of the gentry of the area may have a strong preference fordedication to St Edith exists, as misleadingly, a a particular saint having been born on that day or fordedication to St Michael is mentioned for Bishop other reasons of their own. In the 14,000 churchesWilton, both in Allens New & Complete History of listed by Arnold-Forster, about 600 saints are named,the County of York (1828) and in Baines History, who range in popularity from the Blessed Virgin MaryDirectory & Gazetteer of Yorkshire (1823). It must be to some Cornish saints with only a single dedicationassumed that an error was made initially, and copied to their name. There are some 500 ancient churchesby subsequent authors. The nearest church dedicated whose dedication is not known. to St Michael is at Garton-on-the-Wolds.As with Limpley Stoke, the dedication may changeKing Henry VIII tried to abolish parish feasts in over the years with political or family changes. Also1536: he issued a proclamation that every saints day the lady-chapel or chancel may have been placedshould be abolished and that in future every parish under the invocation of one patron, and the rest of thefeast should be held on the first Sunday in October, building dedicated to another. 1In our own churcha proclamation which fortunately was pretty generally at Bishop Wilton there are 2 side chapels with theirdisregarded. 4own dedicationsthe Lady Chapel on the South side and St Helens on the North, now used as a vestry.St Edith of WiltonAccording to Muncey, At the end of the 12th centurySt Ediths mother, Wulfthryth, was a member of and throughout the 13th century Lady chapels werethe community at Wilton Nunnery - though as a lay built, or rebuilt on a larger scale, and numbers ofmember not a nunwhen she caught the eye of King parish churches dedicated one of their altars to theEdgar and became his concubine or common-law Blessed Virgin Mary. 2 wife. He took her to his manor house at Kemsing in Another complication with our dedication is thatKent, where she gave birth to her daughter in 961. 1 F Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications (1899) introduction p xi2 R W Muncey, A History of the Consecration of Churches & Churchyards (1930), p 833 G Lawton, Collectio Rerum Ecclesiasticarum (1842) p 3284 Francis Bond, Dedications & Patron Saints of English Churches (1914) p 191222 BULLETIN 13'