Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Colin's Little Known Facts: St. Wilfrid and Leicester

The outstanding Anglo-Saxon churchman, St. Wilfrid, more associated with other places, spent some time in Leicester.

Wilfrid is particularly remembered at Hexham in Northumberland and Ripon in Yorkshire. He was Bishop in both places.

At Hexham Abbey one can, at certain times, be taken by a guide to see the surviving crypt that Wilfrid created, in a theatrical and highly successful ploy to amaze potential converts with the magnificence of Christianity.

At Ripon Cathedral, he also created a crypt, and this is open all the time that the cathedral is open.

Wilfrid was also present at the historic Synod of Whitby, where the Roman faction defeated the Celtic faction in deciding how the church should be run. Wilfrid was the main speaker on the Roman side.

Wilfrid, however, brilliant though he was, was not the easiest of men to get on with, and he had a series of disputes with Kings and Archbishops, resulting in his banishment on more than one occasion.

On one of these occasions, he went to Sussex and evangelised the South Saxons, founding the first cathedral there, at Selsey. The see was later moved to Chichester.

And on another occasion, he turned up at Leicester, and took over as its Bishop.

Wilfrid actually died not too far away from Leicestershire, at Oundle in Northamptonshire, where he had founded a monastery.