Saint Paulinus and Northumbria

History of the Huddersfield area.

Saint Paulinus and Northumbria

A lot happened in this area at the start of the seventh century. Saint Paulinus landed in southern England in 608AD, the Kingdom of Northumbria, a recent amalgamation of the kingdoms of Bernicia (Northwest England above the river Tees and the Lothian area of Scotland) and Deira (North and East Yorkshire) invaded Elmet, and, after a last stand in the Calder valley, Elmet fell in 616.

Paulinus  then came north to York in 624, in a route that took him down the length of the Calder valley, stopping to baptise new believers at what became Dewsbury (Deus-bury, God’s town.) He was bringing Ethelburga (herself a convert of Paulinus in Canterbury) to become the second wife and queen to King Edwin of Northumbria.

Paulinus tried to persuade Edwin to become Christian, but held off until Edwin was told the story of the sparrow in the mead hall, as told by the Venerable Bede.

The present life of man upon earth, O King, seems to me in comparison with that time which is unknown to us like the swift flight of a sparrow through the mead-hall where you sit at supper in winter, with your Ealdormen and thanes, while the fire blazes in the midst and the hall is warmed, but the wintry storms of rain or snow are raging abroad. The sparrow, flying in at one door and immediately out at another, whilst he is within, is safe from the wintry tempest, but after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight, passing from winter to winter again. So this life of man appears for a little while, but of what is to follow or what went before we know nothing at all.

This did the trick for Edwin. Who embraced Christianity and recommend it to his subjects.

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