St. Erkenwald Lodge


St. Erkenwald

History of Saint Erkenwald

“Erkenwald” was one of the noblest of all English Prelates, being closely connected with the Saxon Kings of East Anglia. On his early life we have no historical light, but legendary biographers assert that he was born at Stallington in Lindsey. A Prince of Royal Blood, son of Annas, the Holy King of East Angles, or as some say, of a certain Prince named Offa. the date of his birth is unknown.

As a young man he left his own district to “disengage himself from the ties of this world” and retiring to the kingdom of the East Saxons used his large estates in founding a Monastery at Chertsey and an Abbey in Barking around 666 A.D. He himself took charge of the Monastery at Cherstey and his sister Ethelburga was installed as the first Abbess of Barking, probably the first Nunnery ever founded in England and one of the richest.

In 675 A.D. Erkenwald was taken from the Abbey in Chertsey and consecrated as the fourth Bishop of London by Archbishop theodre and he held the See until 693 A.D. As Bishop he did much to augment the buildings and revenues of St. Paul’s and obtain for the Church great privileges from the King, and it was during his episcopacy that the Old St. Paul’s Cathedral was built. Fulham Palace was presented to him in 691 A.D. and was the home of the Bishop of London until the 1970’s.

The Monastic writers speak of him in very high terms of his piety and zeal in the discharge of his duties. He was a man by universal consent of saintly life and vast energy. He left his mark by strengthening the City of London wall and building the gate, the name of which is so familiar to our ears and is named after him, “Bishopgate”.

It is said that he converted Sebba, the King of East Saxons, to the Christian faith, but it was probably because of his beneficent deeds to the Londoners that he was second only to Becket in the popular estimate all over Southern England. When weakness and old age came on he insisted on being carried about his Diocese in a litter, so that he might still continue his Episcopal oversight. He was thus actively engaged in his saintly labours that he was called to rest while on a visit to Barking on April 30th, 693 A.D., while counselling Ina, King of the West Saxons in drawing up his “Laws”.

He was laid to rest in his own Cathedral with great pomp, right in the centre of St. Paul’s and became famous for pilgrimages and frequent miracles. On November 14th, 1148, his body was removed by a solemn translation and deposited high above the Altar on the east wall.

The Venerable Bede says “God honoured St. Erkenwald with the gift of miracles”. It can be said that his influence was so great; that when they thought about the great work he did it seemed miraculous. His shrine was said to be very beautiful and covered with many “rich adornments” but all trace of this disappeared together with his body in 1533 during the Reformation.

Two days were dedicated to him, the date of his death, April 30th and the date of his translation, November 14th, and these days were classed in London as high festivals and special services were celebrated and special hymns were sung in his honour.

The Erkenwald hymn

Specially written for St. Erkenwald Lodge by the late Bro. C F Forshaw, LL.D

Thirteen hundred years lie buried ‘Mong the eras that have pass’d Since our Brethren first did fashion Stones to build a temple vast, Well they plann’d the Sacred Building To resist Time’s fearsome blast.

But relentless Time doth ever wield with force his mighty sway: And the Temple fell to ruins by the stress of Nature’s way;

Yet its crumbling walls were stately, still majestic in decay.

Then the Church where now we worship, which so long has time withstood; Was upreared by worthy Masons, Craftsmen skilled and true and good: Members of our ancient Order they adorned our Brotherhood.

Took they from the olden Temple Stones to build this noble fane; Stones left sound by storms of ages formed a House of Prayer again, Where we now adore the Master who in Grandest Lodge doth reign.

We, most high, would find a Temple where thine Heavenly Zion stands; We would praise thee in the precincts Of thine own Diviner Lands;

We would seek thy many mansions in that house not built by hands.

O Thou Great Geometrician, Still thy guardian power extend; Still watch o’er thy earthly builders, Still beguide us and befriend; That when earthly labours over we have rest that knows no End.

Help our Order with thy Blessing, lead us still in paths of right; Give us strength and give us wisdom fit us for the constant fight, So that we behold the Beauty Of thy never-failing light. So mote it be.


Arena 54 Print Edition

Read more

Beyond the Square: W Bro Richard Spooner on “exercising that virtue…”

Read more

We asked you… The Visitor’s Response

Read more
Cookie settings