Bury St Edmunds was once a centre of international pilgrimage with people travelling thousands of miles to visit the shrine of St Edmund.
Now, to mark the 1000th year of the Abbey of St Edmund and raise money for a mental health charity, a vicar is about to take on a walk that represents the final stretch of their pilgrimage.
Rev Tom Mumford, (pictured above) from St Gregory’s Church, in Sudbury, will walk a 20-mile stretch of St Edmund’s Way from Sudbury to St Edmundsbury Cathedral, in Bury St Edmunds, this Saturday.
Back in the 15th century, upon completing their journey to the shrine of St Edmund, a pilgrim would acquire a badge. They would then wear this on their subsequent travels including their return to Bury St Edmunds.
Only eight of these badges still exist, with one, depicting two archers shooting at a central figure in front of a tree, is on display at Moyse’s Hall Museum.
On Saturday Rev Mumford will complete his journey wearing a replica of this badge, given by the museum. The replica was made by Dr Steve Jones, metallurgist and secretary of the Friends of Moyse’s Hall Museum.
“I believe I will become the first person to wear the St Edmund Pilgrim badge on a pilgrimage since the days of Henry VIII which is pretty cool,” said Rev Mumford.
He will be raising funds for the Kernos Centre, a mental health and wellbeing charity based in Sudbury.
Rev Mumford said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has heightened anxiety in our nation like nothing I have seen in my lifetime. Isolation has intensified loneliness, lockdown has caused both mental and financial depression. Our lives have been changed entirely, almost overnight. We have all had our dark days and weeks, how could we not?
“Though many of us choose not to talk about it, I know from my own experience and from speaking to parishioners during lockdown that things have been really up and down. So, recognising the increasing need for mental health support at this time, all money I raise will be donated to the Kernos centre to support local people in their time of need.”
Moyse’s Hall Museum is run by West Suffolk Council.
Jo Rayner, cabinet member for Leisure and Culture, said: “We are very proud of our history and heritage and while many of the events to celebrate 1000 years of the Abbey have, for obvious reasons, had to be put on hold until it is safe, we are delighted Rev Mumford will proudly be wearing the St Edmund Pilgrim Badge as he undertakes the walk along St Edmund’s Way.”
And Robert Everitt, West Suffolk’s cabinet member for Families and Communities, added: “The council has, through its Families and Communities work, been working to raise and recognise the importance of mental health and so we are very happy to support Tom in his fundraising walk and wish him all the very best.”
To donate, go to Tom’s ‘Go Fund Me’ page: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/tom-mumford-pilgrimage-to-bury-st-edmunds