An Open Letter to the Lord Bishop of Ely, Stephen David Conway. As ruthlessly suppressed by the Dereham & Fakenham Times (again...).
Dereham has never recovered from the theft of St Withburga’s body by your predecessor the Abbot of Ely and his loaf-eating cronies, circa 1000 AD.
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The outrage is amplified by its circumstances. We had recently been put to fire and sword by the Danes. The Abbey of Ely took possession of our township, on the condition that it would undertake the restoration of our broken church. Instead, you vulgar Elysians broke our spirits by nicking off with the uncorrupted body of our virgin saint. She was the cornerstone of our economy. Pilgrims came from far and wide literally to pay their respects. No more. St Withburga and her costly gifts were ‘translated’ to the very spot where Ely Cathedral stands to this day. You still benefit from the proceeds of that crime through an unbroken chain of pomp that led to the cathedral being cast as Westminster Abbey on the Crown.
Meanwhile, the only casting going on at St Withburga’s Well in Dereham involves plastic bottles, and empty packets of crisps.
Lord Bishop, I call on you to do the right thing. We’re tired of handwashing excuses: the Norman invasion; the Reformation; the dissolution of the monasteries, and that St. Withburga’s body has been missing, presumed lost, since the 12th century. How convenient! I’ll tell you what’s more convenient - Ground Penetrating Radar.
A waft of its magic wand will reveal the location of a holy maiden, in her 1200-year old shroud and coffin, who looks like she’s still asleep.
Light her way home.
I’ll be speaking to them next.