Part 3: Saint Rumbold

The Saxon legend of St Rumbold has been told and retold so many times that it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. In 1963 the historian Sir George Clark wrote:

“There are four medieval manuscripts of a certain collection of many lives of saints among which this life is found in its earliest form. The oldest of these four manuscripts was written out in the eleventh century and so nothing is known of St Rumbold’s life except what is to be found in the anonymous eleventh century manuscript."

He was well aware that there was little substantial evidence.

A version of St. Rumbold’s life by Alfred Storey in Historical Legends of Northamptonshire (1883) gave a simple and not over embellished account:

“According to the old monkish legends the infant St Rumbald, or Rumboalde, as it is sometimes written, was the son of a daughter of Penda, King of the Mercians, and was born at King’s Sutton on the 1st of November, 662. The father, Rumbald, King of Northumberland, was a Pagan but was converted by the prayers of his wife before the marriage was consummated. Soon after the infant‘s birth the child spoke holy words and, after having professsed himself a Christian, was baptised. The baptism was carried out by Bishop Widerino, assisted by Eadwold, a priest, in water contained in a hollow stone lying in afield. Rurnbald lived only three days. He was buried at Sutton by Eadwold but was translated the following year to Brackley and the third year after his death to Buckingham. Here a shrine was erected for him in the church.”

John Leland, writing of his visit to King’s Sutton in about 1537, said:

“St. Rumoalde was borne in this Paroch. There was of late a Chappell dedicated to him standing about a mile from Sutton in the Medes (meadows), defaced and taken down."

This stood in what was called the Chapel Field near the main farm house at Walton Grounds and on the site remnants of old foundations have been found.

St. Rumbold’s font was removed from King’s Sutton Church in Victorian times and is now apparently lost. It has been claimed that a stone found in the churchyard and incorporated in the present font is the original.

At the time of the Domesday Book (1086) the Shires were sub-divided into Hundreds. King’s Sutton Hundred was bounded in the East by the Cherwell and included Grimsbury and Middleton Cheney to the North and Aynho and Croughton to the South. The landowners were listed together with the available income and within the village itself King William owned three hides, estimated at about 360 acres, and others smaller areas. Among the very few markets mentioned in the Domesday Book was the one at Svdtone worth 20 shillings a year to the King.

For much more detail on the historical aspects of the village, go to the History Archive of the King’s Sutton Heritage Trust Site.