Sea raiders return – 1,000 years after murdering a saint
WATCH out, Whitstable – the Vikings are coming!
Almost exactly one thousand years after the marauding invaders martyred the Archbishop of Canterbury, they seem to have got their hands on popular vicar the Reverend Rachel Webbley.
Luckily for her, this time they come in peace, to celebrate the millennium of the two town churches bearing the name of their famous victim, St Alphege, who was killed after refusing to allow the district to pay a ransom for his life.
The churches, in the town centre and Seasalter, are staging a year of celebration for the anniversary, with a colourful and action-packed launch at the weekend.
The Rev Webbley, team vicar of St Alphege town church, said: "We're excited about the weekend and telling people Alphege's story. There should be something for everyone, from a traditional church fete to a thrilling battle with the Vikings.
"And whatever the weather, there will be a warm welcome at St Alphege Church."
Alphege was murdered in London in 1012 and his body was brought ashore at Whitstable before being buried at Canterbury Cathedral.
His story will be re-enacted over the weekend, with a few alterations.
This time, St Alphege will be captured at the church in the High Street after the Vikings rampage their way through the town centre – making sure no one gets hurt, of course.
Members of the East Kent Historical Organisation, who are playing the part of the violent invaders for the weekend, will set up camp outside the church and flames and battle scenes will be projected onto the building overnight on Saturday.
On Sunday, St Alphege will be murdered in front of the Bishop of Dover, Trevor Wilmott, and the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Councillor Ian Thomas, before a special service at the church. Bellringers will then ring a full peal before a Saxon-themed open day at the church.
Mrs Webbley said: "It should be a great weekend with a lot of fun and a real chance to celebrate the story of a man who would not give in to violent oppressors.
"It may be 1,000 years old but it's still relevant today and there's a lot we can learn from it."
For more information visit the churches at www.stalphege.org.uk and www.stalphegeseasalter.org