The End of Orthodox Britain (1054/ 1066)

In previous months we have seen how Orthodoxy may have come to Britain, possibly in the 1st Century, although there are no surviving written records.  We saw briefly how support for the Church fluctuated during different periods as heathen tribes from across the North Sea invaded and settled here, and many communities moved further to the west.

From the coming of St Augustine to Canterbury in 597 it could be said that Orthodox Christianity had become firmly established, although most of the lists of bishops of the oldest dioceses, with the notable exceptions of London and York start in the mid-7th century.

The last successful invasion of England was in 1066 when William Duke of Normandy landed at Pevensey in Sussex to claim the crown. The Battle of Hastings resulted in the death of Harold, the last Saxon (Old English, and Orthodox) King, and the defeat of his army, already exhausted after a forced march south, having defeated another challenge by an invading army at Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire.

Meanwhile, in Rome and Constantinople, just twelve years before 1066, in the year 1054, the final break had taken place between the Eastern and the Western Patriarchates.  This was followed by increasing doctrinal divergence with greater claims being made by the popes, through the holding of further “ecumenical” councils in the west.

Bishop Kallistos Ware, an English Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in this country has argued that almost certainly news of the event of 1054 would not have reached England by the time that other great events were taking place here, and that the last but one Old English king (Edward the Confessor), who preceded Harold, has every right to be recognised as a saint by Orthodox today, as he had lived and died Orthodox in 1066.

For the sake of convenience we can say that, although Rome had broken with Constantinople in 1054, this did not affect England until 1066 when the Norman king, William, had taken over. For a thousand years, since it was first planted here, Orthodoxy had flourished in Britain, but as a result of the events of 1066, it ceased to exist here.  However many of the old Orthodox nobility with their followers left the country, having been dispossessed of their lands by the Normans.  A large number, possibly the majority went to Constantinople where they were given their own church by the Emperor, in whose Varangian Guard they served.

Next month, “The Return of Orthodoxy

News of People

Tatiana and Brian

As many of our readers will already be aware, we sadly report the repose of Brian (Alexi in Orthodoxy) Edmunds, husband of Tatiana.  Brian had suffered a number of health issues in recent years, and had been faithfully supported by Tatiana – as he had supported her throughout their marriage.  However, the situation finally got the better of him, and he reposed peacefully in Salisbury hospital on the afternoon of Sunday 25th of June.  Tatiana was with him to the end, a great comfort to them both.

Our love and prayers for Tatiana, and their son, Sasha.  The Funeral was held at St Edward’s on Tuesday 4th July, attended by many of their friends.  The service was followed by burial in the Churchyard. Afterwards there were refreshments at Athelhampton House,

Sophia Mastropoulou

We have recently said a sad ‘Farewell’ to Sophia.  It has been made clear to her that her path ahead lies back in her homeland, Greece, where she waits to discover the direction that will take her.

Sophia has been a faithful and regular member of our community since discovering us, and has often said how our St Edward has been guiding her.  We shall continue to keep in touch with her, but that will not be the same.

Flori and Constantine

Many congratulations to Flori and Constantine who, along with Vlad our server, will be celebrating their Orthodox wedding on 16th July in Romania.  We wish the all much future happiness and “Many Years”

Thought for the month

A position of honour changes a man’s character, but rarely for the better.  There would be many saints were it not for honour.

“Journey to Heaven”  St Tikhon of Zadonsk

Saints of the Month (July 18th)

The Grand Duchess Elizabeth and the Nun Barbara (1918)

Elizabeth was the elder sister of Tsarina Alexandra and married to Grand Duke Sergius, governor of Moscow.  Elizabeth became Orthodox of her own free will and she organised women at all levels of society to help soldiers at the front and in hospitals.

Her husband was killed by an assassin’s bomb in 1905 just as Elizabeth was leaving home for her workshops.  She later visited her husband’s killer in prison and urged him to repent.

She then withdrew from her social life, devoting herself to the Convent of SS. Martha and Mary, a community consisting of nuns from both the nobility and poor people, and focussed on worship, and helping the poor

During the 1914 – 18  war, Elizabeth nursed sick and wounded soldiers in the hospitals and on the battle front, but at Pascha 1918 she was ordered to leave the convent and join the Royal family at Ekaterinberg.  On arrival, she was refused access to the Tsar’s family, and was placed in a convent.

At the end of May, she was moved to Alopaevsk where other members of the Royal Family were housed in a schoolhouse on the edge of the town.  Here, she was allowed to go to church and work in the garden.

On the night of July 5th the prisoners were taken to a place twelve miles away where Grand Duke Sergius was shot, and the others thrown down a mineshaft. Grenades were tossed in after them to make sure that they were dead, but  Saint Elizabeth lived on for several hours and could be heard singing hymns, a final act of Christian witness.

In 1920, the bodies of Saint Elizabeth and Saint Barbara were taken to Jerusalem where they were buried in the Orthodox church of St Mary Magdalene.  There, since being recognised by the Church as saints, they have lain in glass topped coffins, and are visited by many pilgrims.

The Five Churches Fete. 2017

The Fete this year will be held on August 28th  in the grounds of Athelhampton House.

St Edward’s is one of the Five, and our church will be open during the day between 12.00 and ,,,,  When we normally expect a good number of visitors.

Fr David and Lesley would be grateful for volunteers to be present in the church to welcome them so that they do not need to spend the entire day there themselves



Every Sunday:

THE DIVINE LITURGY                10.00 a.m.

Other services on Festivals etc., as announced.

Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals by arrangement with Fr David.

Confessions before the Liturgy (a telephone call would be appreciated), or by appointment.

Father David Harris, Parish Priest

42, High Street, Puddletown, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8RY,

Tel:  01305 849 410