Camille Berriman: Have I been eating lunch with a saint?

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The recent revelation King Richard III was, in fact, buried under a Leicester car park, got me pondering the age-old mystery of the whereabouts of our town’s namesake, St Edmund.

Continuing the theme of car parks, I started to imagine our saint buried somewhere under Ram Meadow or the Angel Hill or Chequer Square parking spaces. Wouldn’t that be a strange quirk of history?

But then I heard the theory that the monks suspected Bury’s Abbey was going to be closed by Henry VIII and as a result took St Edmund out of his shrine and buried him outside the Abbey. According to this theory our saint could still be somewhere in the Abbey Gardens near the ruins – and most likely under the tennis courts.

Now, I have never played tennis in the Abbey Gardens. This is not because I have anything against the Abbey Gardens. Or tennis. Rather tennis has something against me. I am unable to co-ordinate myself when rackets and balls are concerned. In my head I am something of a Venus Williams, while in reality the racket and ball seldom connect and when they do the ball disappears in an unexpected direction which would prompt any umpire worth their salt to shout ‘out’.

But while tennis and I are not friends, I do consider the Abbey Gardens and I to be bosom buddies. For many years I walked through it twice daily on my way to and from work (to avoid paying for town centre car parking) and I have often spent summer lunch hours sitting near the ruins enjoying the background noise of children playing and the thwack and whistle of a game of tennis on the courts.

So the thought that a saint might have been buried just yards away from me all these years has tickled me.

Apparently there is not enough evidence to warrant an excavation of the courts, but that does not bother me. I think the mystery of St Edmund’s whereabouts adds something to the history and charm of our lovely town. And it certainly keeps the likes of me guessing and daydreaming.

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