Feckenham Forest History Society

After a short AGM of the society, when all present committee members sere re-elected; it was followed by a talk given by Max Keen, a well known local speaker who gave us a riveting account of Alfred the Great and why he was famous.

Max announced his talk with a fanfare of horns and came dressed appropriately in full Viking/Saxon regalia, brandishing all the weaponry a fighter of the time would have possessed, showing us a warrior’s prize possession which was his broad sword, a beautiful piece of armoury; then, Max went on to recount Alfred’s life.

Alfred was born in 849AD in what is now modern Wantage, the youngest of four brothers. He was not originally destined to become king, but unfortunately his elder brothers died leaving him in line for the throne. Alfred went at an early age to Rome which encouraged his love of learning and Christianity.

England at this time was made up of a group of kingdoms, including amongst others Mercia and Wessex – which Alfred’s family ruled at the time. But, there were always power struggles taking place between the kingdoms as well as the threat of invasion by the Vikings and Danes, which culminated in 878AD, in the famous Battle at ‘Edington’. It is probably here that the famous story of Alfred burning the cakes originated. The subsequent peace with the Danish leader Guthrum gave the Danes much of the control over the east of England.

Alfred was renowned for his love of learning and crowned at Winchester. In the years that followed Edington, he built a system of ‘burghs’ (fortesses) and developed a fleet to fight the Danes. His patronage of learning brought scholars like Asser to his court. Alfred also translated works from monks like Bede from Latin into old English. Alfred is also noted for his laws, and was seen as a ‘Great’ man. He died in 899AD.

The society’s next meeting is at Webheath Village Hall. 7.30pm May 10.

Bernard Pumfrey. ‘Aspects of Tudor England’.