Grave decision needed on hunt for St Edmund

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If Richard III gave his kingdom for a carpark in Leicester, might we find St Edmund resting below a tennis court?

Public interest in the king who inspired a Shakespeare villain has aroused interest in the grave of a king who was once England’s patron saint.

Alan Jary, chairman of the Bury Society, said yesterday: “I’m sure it’s a fantastic idea.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they did find him — they might make him patron saint of England again.”

He called for the formation of a St Edmund Society in the town and said the Bury Society would want to be involved.

Part of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s bid for Heritage Lottery Funding for the Abbey Gardens had included an archeological investigation of the tennis courts.

Bury Society historian Martyn Taylor said: “There is every possibility St Edmund is still in the Abbey Grounds.”

The last formal inspection of St Edmund’s body was in 1198 and Mr Taylor said that during the War of the Barons in the 12th century, the French Dauphin Lewis (old spelling) claimed to have taken the remains to Toulouse.

The alleged remains were brought to Arundel Castle, Sussex, in 1901. But in 1992 they were found to be 12 individuals’ bones, so Lewis did not steal the real thing.

Unknown graves were found in the abbey in the last century, including those of five abbots in 1903 as the result of documents discovered by author M R James in France.

Mr Taylor said: “It could well be that a document turns up in the future that says where he was buried.”