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St Edmund’s Day: What is it and Why are we Celebrating it?

Posted on Wednesday, 1st November, 2017

On 20th November there will be celebrations across our town for St Edmund’s Day! However, have you ever wondered about the real story behind St Edmund and why he is named ‘Edmund The Martyr’? Look no further!

Who was St Edmund?

St Edmund was the first patron saint in England, and the memory of his actions united the warring Anglo-Saxons, Danes and Normans into one nation. St Edmund sacrificed himself for his people’s freedom in East Anglia and was made king at just 15 years of age as he was the last of a well renowned line of East Anglian kings.

Conquered in battle in Thetford by the Vikings, St Edmund used himself as a distraction in order to draw the Vikings away from the main battle. Defiant until the end, he refused to rule as a “puppet king” (controlled by outside forces rather than ruling autonomously) and as a result, on 20th November 869, St Edmund was tied to a tree, shot with arrows and beheaded.

Why was he so Special?

As a result of his bravery and selfless death, St Edmund became the ultimate symbol of resistance, inspiring the English to defeat the Vikings, and ultimately recapture East Anglia to create a new nation: England. Edmund was the first patron saint of the new nation, and was the protector of English freedom.

Thanks to the shrine in dedication to St Edmund, Bury St Edmunds was transformed from a little Anglo-Saxon village into a hub of medieval Christian worship. The very presence of St Edmund brought visitors and wealth to the town, turning it into a great commercial centre for merchants from all over the country and beyond! Bury St Edmunds does not just owe its name to St Edmund, he is the reason why we have everything that makes Bury so special today.

What is St Edmund’s Day?

In celebration of our patron saint, the 20th of November is St Edmund’s Day, and we’d like to encourage all of you to get involved! A local organisation, We Love Bury St Edmunds, with support from The Bury St Edmunds Town Council, and Our Bury St Edmunds has organised merchandise to display, which is available to purchase online, and from Court News with your local newspaper delivery.

The merchandise available includes flags, bunting, car stickers, balloons, tea towels and mugs. We’d like to encourage retailers and business owners to proudly display the flags, as well as any bars, pubs and residences. Let’s flood the town with flags!

How do I Get Involved?

If you’d like to get involved in St Edmund’s Day or have any further ideas on how we can all celebrate St Edmunds Day from 17th-20th November, please email or

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