St Ethelbert’s Holy Well
Around 794AD, King Offa of Mercia demanded the head of the Christian King Ethelbert of East Anglia whilst he was making arrangements to marry Offa’s daughter. Not far from the location of Marden Church the young king was assassinated and his body hidden. After rumours of Ethelbert’s ghost being seen in the marden area, Offa asked the Pope for absolution. He was commanded to build the church where the body of Ethelbert had been buried and dedicate it to the Virgin Mary. Ethelbert’s body was then taken to be buried at Hereford Cathedral which is dedicated to Our Lady and St Ethelbert.
When his body was dug up at Marden a well formed where he had lain. The church was built around this well and it is still visible today in a room dedicated to the saint in the west end of the church.
A legend surrounds the removal of St Ethelbert’s body from Marden. It is often referred to Ethelbert being beheaded and whilst being carried to Hereford his head is supposed to have rolled from off whatever they were carrying his body on. A blind man accidentally tripped over the head and his sight was miraculously returned to him. The Pope made Offa pay for the canonization of Ethelbert. St Ethelbert’s Day is celebrated on 20th May.
Another legend involves the church at Marden. This concern’s a mermaid who found the churches bell after it fell into the River Lugg. She decided not to return it to the locals who tried to force it from her and instead she hid it in a nearby pool, where it is said you can hear its ghostly chimes.