Worcester Cathedral

Who is the St Wulfstan of St Wulfstan Avenue in Westbury Fields?

A road of 24 retirement apartments within the St Monica Trust retirement village of Westbury Fields in Bristol is named after St Wulfstan, but do you know who he was?

Born in Warwickshire, he studied at monasteries in Evesham and Peterborough before moving to be the clerk in Worcester. He was ordained in 1038 and joined the Benedictine monastery there. He became the Bishop of Worcester in 1062 and is remembered as the only English born Bishop to retain his diocese after the Norman conquest.

He was a strong opponent of the slave trade and was largely responsible for ending the slave trade from Bristol. At the time, people who could not pay their debts were being sold into slavery in Ireland. Wulfstan spent time in Bristol preaching sermons attacking slavery, and eventually, the slaves held captive in Bristol were released. At the time slavery was not considered immoral, so his stand was a brave one.

He took particular pastoral care of those in need in his diocese. He was an astute financial manager and responsible for the rebuilding of elements of Worcester and Hereford cathedrals, Tewkesbury Abbey and other lesser churches in the area. He managed to achieve lasting financial independence for his diocese and helped in the compilation of the Domesday Book. He was well regarded across the country, and often assisted or deputised for the Archbishop of York.

After a long illness, he passed away on January 20th, 1095 and a shrine was erected for him in Worcester Cathedral.

During the Easter of 1158, Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine visited Worcester Cathedral and placed their crowns on the shrine of Wulfstan, vowing not to wear them again. Their son King John is buried there, watched over by St Wulfstan.

He was canonised on May 14th, 1203 by Pope Innocent III. His Saints Day is recognised as January 19th. He is the Saint named to care for vegetarians and dieters.

Written by Westbury Fields resident, Jill Cownie