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St. Romald

Hector C. Parr

St. Romald's Church
Click to enlarge

The church and village of Romaldkirk are named after Saint Rumwald of Brackley, also known as Rumwold or Rumbald of Buckingham. He was born in King's Sutton, Northamptonshire, probably in 650 AD. He was said to be the maternal grandson of King Penda of Mercia, and the son of a Pagan prince of Northumbria. An eleventh century legend relates that the three-day-old prince pronounced the Christian Creed loudly immediately after his baptism, preached a sermon on the Holy Trinity and the need for virtuous living, and then died. Another version of the tale maintains that immediately after his birth he cried out in a loud voice, "I am a Christian", and then he 'made a noble sermon with marvellous good eloquence'.

The year following his death, Romald's relics were moved by Bishop Widerin (who had baptised him) to Brackley in Northamptonshire. Two years later his bones were again moved to Buckingham. He was revered at monasteries in Mercia, Wessex, and in Sweden, but his name is omitted from monastic calendars after 1100. Churches were dedicated to his memory in Kent, Essex, Northamptonshire, Dorset, and here in Romaldkirk (which until recently was in North Yorkshire). A statue of Rumwald at Boxley in Kent was destroyed during the Reformation, but the well of Saint Rumwald survives at Alstrop, Northamptonshire. He is the patron saint of Buckingham, and one side of Buckingham Parish Church is dedicated to him. He is also the patron saint of the fishermen at Folkestone in Kent.


© Hector C. Parr, 2005

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