Feast day 5th August
Across Northern Europe and England there are many churches named after St Oswald.
Who was St Oswald?
Oswald of Northumbria, a 7th-century Anglo- Saxon King, was a son of Æthelfrith of Bernicia. Æthelfrith’s death forced Oswald into exile which he spent in the Gaelic kingdom that covered much of western Scotland and part of Ireland. Whilst in exile, Oswald converted to Christianity. On his return from exile in 634 he came to power in Northumbria following his victory over Cadwallon ap Cadfan, King of Gwynedd. Oswald ruled over the Northumbrian kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira but also exerted significant authority over parts of modern-day England, Wales, and Scotland.Oswald’s reign is praised by the Northumbrian historian Bede and he is one of the heroes of Bede’s influential work, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Oswald vigorously spread Christianity in his kingdom and beyond. He was killed at Maserfield near Oswestry in 642, in a battle against the Mercian pagan king Penda. Following his death Oswald was revered as a Saint and Martyr. His relics were venerated and a cult formed in England and on the Continent which thrived in the Middle Ages.
St Oswald and Christianity
Oswald fully embraced the Christian faith as few other northern Anglo-Saxon kings had before him. Bede considers Oswald the saintliest of all the kings he examined. Oswald was baptised long before coming into power. As a result of his time spent in exile Oswald allied himself with the Celtic Christian faith centred around the monastery of Iona. This brand of Christianity stood in marked contrast with the Rome-oriented community centred in Canterbury to the south, founded by Saint Augustine the Lesser in 597. The rivalry between these factions would come to a head, well after Oswald’s death, at the Synod of Whitby.
St Oswald & Lower Peover
The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 and confiscation of lands by the conquerors led to conflict. Cheshire, a remote part of the kingdom, provided stiff resistance. This led to Cheshire being harshly treated with villages destroyed, land laid waste, crops burned and people made homeless. In addition practically all the Anglo Saxon ruling classes were replaced by Norman families. Which is how Richard Grosvenor’s ancestors came to reside at Hulme Hall. Richard would been aware of the deep veneration long held by the Anglo Saxon population of St Oswald. So perhaps the small chapel of ease named after St Oswald was an attempt to ease the still lingering animosity between the invader and invaded.