Group to promote Hadleigh's 'neglected' links with a king to boost tourism

Trustees of the King Guthrum Group

Trustees of the King Guthrum Group: Huw Roberts, Sue Andrews, Kathryn Grandon and Jimmy Wilding, standing in St Mary’s churchyard, Hadleigh, a possible burial place of King Guthrum. - Credit: P Cutts

A new group has been set up in Hadleigh to celebrate the link between the town and King Guthrum, who ruled East Anglia in the ninth century.

Guthrum was King of East Anglia from around 835AD to 890AD, and is thought to have been buried in Hadleigh.  

Originally from Denmark, he was one of the leaders of the Great Summer Army of 871 which conquered East Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria, but was ultimately defeated by King Alfred at the Battle of Edington in 878.

Under the terms of the subsequent peace treaty, Guthrum, known as Æthelstan, was baptised as a Christian, and he and Alfred set out the boundaries of their kingdoms, and agreed peaceful trade terms. 

The King Guthrum Group hopes to make people more aware of the town's link to the historical figure, while also helping to ensure that Hadleigh's local heritage is better understood in a bid to boost tourism.

Chairman of The King Guthrum Group, Huw Roberts said: “I’m interested in history and I happen to know about Guthrum, and that he was buried in Hadleigh.

"But there wasn’t much else in Hadleigh about it

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“This is what we’re trying to make more of, in lots of different ways, so that might mean supporting activities that promote the fact that he was from Hadleigh or lectures or perhaps a trail through the town, possibly some sort of memorial as well.

“It seemed to be a neglected aspect of Hadleigh’s history that the town ought to make more of."

The group hopes to raise funds that can be used to support activities like public events, historical research and community engagement.

They also hope to be able to forge links with other historical sites and organisations around East Anglia that may link to King Guthrum.  

Mr Roberts added: “We welcome contact from people with all sorts of skills and interests: running events and attractions, fund raising, engaging with schools and education, design and production of posters, leaflets, website and video production, art, community engagement, communication, an interest in history and culture.

"Supporting the group will not take up too much time, and even if you don’t have specific skills, you can contribute the most important thing: enthusiasm!”

If you want to get involved or help out The King Guthrum Group you can get in touch with them by emailing: kingguthrumgroup@hotmail.com