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Did you fly the flag for St Edmund?

PUBLISHED: 16:13 20 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:13 20 November 2019

School friends Michael Fenn and John Allsop celebrating St Edmund's Day in Bury town centre  Picture:SARAH LUCY BROWN

School friends Michael Fenn and John Allsop celebrating St Edmund's Day in Bury town centre Picture:SARAH LUCY BROWN

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He was the original patron saint of England and today the flags were out in Suffolk in tribute to St Edmund.

Sarah and Mary Pollard celebrating St Edmund's Day in Bury  town centre  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSarah and Mary Pollard celebrating St Edmund's Day in Bury town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

November 20 is the feast day of St Edmund and across Suffolk the flag bearing the crown and arrows motif of the county's own saint was flying high.

In Bury St Edmunds, the town that bears his name, shops, businesses and market traders were flying the flags and bunting in his name.

Mike Kirkham of the Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District said it had distributed more than 50 flags and 250 metres of bunting around the town.

"The town has been very enthusiastic, there is a very strong allegiance here to St Edmund as you might imagine," he said.

Suzanne Cooper , owner of the Parsley Pot in Bury St Edmunds, and Mandy Gregory  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuzanne Cooper , owner of the Parsley Pot in Bury St Edmunds, and Mandy Gregory Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"Businesses across the board have been very supportive, the market traders have done us proud as have the Arc, the Apex and the independents."

St Edmund was an ancient king of East Anglia martyred on November 20 in 869AD by the Vikings.

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Legend has it he sacrificed himself rather than renounce Christ or become a token king.

Sandra Harrison and Linda Knapp celebrating St Edmund's Day in Bury town centre  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSandra Harrison and Linda Knapp celebrating St Edmund's Day in Bury town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He was tied to a tree and shot with arrows before being decapitated - Hoxne, near Eye, Hellesden and Bradfield St Clare all have claims to be the place where he died.

One miracle attributed to Saint Edmund tells the story of a blind man with a boy who sheltered overnight in a chapel who left in the morning with his eyesight restored.

Edmund is the patron saint of Kings, pandemics, the diocese of East Anglia, Douai Abbey, wolves, torture victims, and protection from the plague.

Edmund was also patron saint of England during the Middle Ages, and nearly 200 years after his death a magnificent abbey was built by King Canute to house his remains.

However the abbey and his shrine were destroyed in 1539 during the reformation.

His remains were lost, although one theory is they are under the tennis courts that are in the town's Abbey gardens which are on the site of the abbey.

The Abbey 1000 celebrations were launched this month to mark the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of the abbey, with events taking place in Bury St Edmunds throughout 2020.

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