St Botolph’s Church Millennium
This October, St Botolph’s Church at Hadstock will commemorate 1000 years of history. A church built by King Cnut [Canute], which we believe was Hadstock Church, was consecrated in 1020. This special milestone gives a focus for celebrating church and village life through the centuries.
The church and village have been preparing an exciting and fun series of events this summer and autumn to celebrate its 1000 years of history. Unfortunately, the coronavirus situation now calls into question how far we shall be able to proceed with the full plans – but the Millennium is an amazing milestone for any community. It’s awe-inspiring to think that this church has been here for almost exactly half the time since the birth of Jesus Christ himself, and for half the time since the Romans came to this country.
See the Millennium pages on this website for the latest details.
The Historical Evidence
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and other sources record that the Danish forces and the Saxons fought a crucial battle on 18 October 1016 at a place called Assandun. The Danes, led by Cnut [Canute] were victorious. Cnut and the Saxon King Edmund made a treaty, but when Edmund died in 1017 Cnut then became king of all England. In 1020 Cnut returned to Assandun and built a church in memory of those who had fallen in the battle. We know that the church was consecrated by Wulfstan, the Archbishop of York, in the presence of Cnut and his nobles.
While we cannot prove it beyond doubt, many scholars and archaeologists consider that ‘Assandun’ [‘the hill of the ashtrees’] was close to Ashdon and Hadstock, and that Hadstock church is the church founded by Cnut. Certainly the early 11th-century fabric of the church is of the right period, and archaeological investigations have shown that there was an even earlier Saxon church on the site.
The exact date of the consecration of Cnut’s church is not recorded, but some scholars think it likely that it was on the anniversary of the battle itself, 18 October.
Cnut, who was Christian, was a strong supporter of the Church, and also founded the abbey at Bury St Edmunds in 1020.
Our gallery includes some pictures of the Assandun Millennium service with The Rt Revd Rowan Williams (16 October 2016) and the banners showung the battle, Cnut becoming king, and the founding of the church, designed by Sonia Villiers and hand made in the village by a dedicated group of residents.