Saint Chad – 672AD
Chad was one of the four brothers, Cedd, Cynibill, Caelin and Chad educated for the priesthood under Aidan at Lindisfarne in Northumberland. As part of his training Chad spent some time working in Ireland. He returned to become Abbot of Lastingham in 664. Two years later he was appointed Bishop of York in the absence of Bishop Wilfred. On the latter’s return Chad became Bishop of Mercia and fixed his See at Lichfield.
Hanmer was part of this diocese at that time and for many centuries afterwards. Chad founded and nurtured many churches around his diocese. 31 are dedicated to him in the old diocese, and Saint Chad’s, Hanmer is one of these. There are others locally at Shrewsbury, Prees and Holt. We like to think that Saint Chad did cause a church to be built here and did visit in about 670. Chad is said to have made such long journeys on foot because in his humility he wanted to be nearer to the people. Bede records that when given a horse by King Oswin he immediately gave it away to a beggar. Archbishop Theodore is said to have given Chad another horse and ordered him to ride it on his next pastoral journey around his diocese. When Chad protested Theodore is said to have picked him up bodily and put him on the horse. We must assume that Chad was a small slight man and Theodore a large strong one.
Chad died during an outbreak of plague on 2nd March 672 and was buried in Lichfield. Saint Chad’s day is March 2nd, the day after Saint David’s day. His impact during less than three years as bishop of Lichfield was extraordinary.
Details about this time were collected and recorded by the Venerable Bede, who was born in 673 the year after Chad died. Bede writes of Chad as gentle, holy, and moderate. He tells many tales of Chad’s holiness, his conversion of the sons of King Wulfhere, his successful prayers for healing and the singing of angels when he died.
Chad was of the Celtic church tradition and ministered to Britons, Celts, and Anglo-Saxons. This tradition was supplanted at the Synod of Whitby in 664 by that of Saint Augustine from Rome and has only recently become to be valued once more.
A short walk north across the Hanmer bypass into Brook Lane and then by the public footpath towards Mill Farm takes us to the site of St Chad’s Well. It has now been piped past into the brook and only a boggy patch remains near the bridge across the brook and the cattle trough. There are records of processions out to the well in the distant past and we speculate that baptisms may have taken place there. We walked out there and said a prayer before our Rogation Service in 2014.
Entered 19 December 2019 By Bill Barlow