St Edmund's Church

St Edmund's is part of the parish of Dunchurch with Thurlaston. St Edmund's is located in Church Lane within the village, and St Peter's on The Square in Dunchurch. 

The present vicar is Rev. Pat Townshend who resides at the Vicarage, 11 Critchley Drive, Dunchurch. She may be contacted on 01788 461987 or email Rev. Pat Townshend

Services are held in St Edmund's on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month at 9am, with additional services over the Christmas and Easter periods. Where there is a 5th Sunday in the month a 10.30am service alternates between St Peter's and St Edmund's.
Short service of reflective prayer is held on Wednesdays at 9am to which those of all faiths and none are cordially invited.

The committee running St Edmund's consists of the Vicar, the Churchwardens of St Peter's and members of the congregation. The present Deputy Churchwardens for Thurlaston are Brian and Jackie Bowsher. They may be contacted on 01788 812094 or email Deputy Churchwarden.

Thurlaston Church

The Historical Background of St Edmund's, Thurlaston

Who was St Edmund? 
Edmund was a King of East Anglia. According to Abbo of Fleury, followed by John of Worcester, he came ‘ex antiquorum Saxonum nobili prosapia oriundus’ which when translated seems to mean that Edmund was of foreign origin and that he belonged to the Old Saxons of the continent. This is a very doubtful tradition as there is no evidence that his alleged father, King Alcmund, ever existed. The earliest and most reliable accounts represent Edmund as descended from the preceding kings of East Anglia of the Wuffing line. Nevertheless, the story of Old Saxon origins was later expanded into a full legend which spoke of Edmund’s parentage, his birth at Nuremberg to the otherwise unknown Alcmund, his adoption by King Æthelweard of East Anglia, his nomination as successor to the king and his landing at Hunstanton to claim his kingdom.

Other accounts state that his father was King Æthelweard. What is certain is that the king died in 854 and was succeeded by Edmund when the boy was a fourteen-year-old. Thus, his birthyear is 841. Edmund was said to have been crowned by St Humbert on 25 December 855 at Burna (probably Bures St Mary, Suffolk), which at that time functioned as the royal capital.

In the year 869, the Danes, who had wintered at York, marched through Mercia into East Anglia and took up their quarters at Thetford. Edmund engaged them fiercely in battle, but the Danes under their leaders Ubbe Ragnarsson and Ivar the Boneless had the victory, killed King Edmund and remained in possession of the battlefield. The conquerors may have simply killed the king in battle, or shortly after. The more popular version of the story, which makes Edmund die as a martyr to Danish arrows when he had refused to renounce Christ or hold his kingdom as a vassal from heathen overlords, dates from comparatively soon after the event. It is not known which account is correct. 

Little certain information has been discovered about the early historical background of the village of Thurlaston or the church, but all sources appear to agree that the village was known as Torlawestone before assuming its present name. Documentary records also appear to show that a church known as St Edmund’s was licensed as early as 1360AD but was pulled down in the reign of Queen Elizabeth in the 16th C. The site of this church remains to be discovered.


St Edmund 

The Present Building
Our church, which was completed in 1848 according to Nicholas Pevsner, was built as the village school by William Butterfield, who was a prominent architect of the High Victorian era. He was also responsible for New School, Rugby (1867) and the chapel at Rugby School (1872) as well as for the principal parish church in Rugby – St. Andrew’s (1877- 1885).


The cost of the building, which was built on a site donated by the local landowner, Lord John Scott, was £1000. This was obtained by subscription and a grant from central funds. When originally built, the building was used as a church only on Sundays, and otherwise as a school, with accommodation for a schoolmaster being formed in the tower. It is believed that this tower was originally taller than seen now but the brick shaft was reduced and the present roof with bell turret added later. The stair shaft was re-roofed at the same time. The original building featured prominent ventilators on the roof of the nave, but these have now been removed.

The schoolmaster’s flat is still used as private accommodation and it is interesting to note that the rope to the bell turret passes through one of the rooms.

The building was licensed for public worship and became a Chapel of Ease to St Peter’s, Dunchurch in 1905, when Rev. Bernard McNulty was vicar of St Peter’s. In 1925 the building was fully furnished as a church and was dedicated in honour of St Edmund, King and Martyr, as was the original monk’s chapel in the 14th century. The ceremony of dedication was performed by Archdeacon Blagden, Rector of Rugby, who later became Bishop of Peterborough. The stained glass window, installed in 1997, depicts Our Lord as the Good Shepherd, St. Edmund with his legendary wolf and St. Peter with his keys. It is the work of the Leicester artist, Melanie Pope. Externally, on the east wall, a Millenium Cross and small memorial garden was put in place by the generosity of the church and village communities to celebrate AD 2000.