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1001 Stories Collection

St Frideswide

1001 stfrideswide jeremybishop
Added on 28th August 2020

Oral tradition Legend from Oxford, England

The story of the patron saint of Oxford.

Story

Frideswide is an English princess. Algar, a neighbouring prince, wants to marry her but Frideswide refuses him as she has decided never to marry. She intends to become a nun. Algar is determined to kidnap her so she flees the castle and hides in the woods at Binsey to escape him…

Why we chose it

St Frideswide is the patron saint of Oxford. Her story is one of courage and resourcefulness – a young woman determined to live her life the way she chooses. Her shrine is at Binsey but she built her church beside the Thames where Christ Church Cathedral now is.

Where it came from

Frideswide is said to have been born in 680 and to have died in 727. Her name, which means Peace (frithes) Strong (withe), is a genuine mid-Saxon name. The earliest written accounts of her life are from 1125 by William of Malmesbury.

Where it went next

St. Frideswide (or Frithuswith) remained abbess of the Oxford monastery until her death in 735. She is the patron saint of Oxford, and also the patron saint of Oxford University, which was declared by the Archbishop of Canterbury Henry Chichele in 1440.

Associated stories

Two later version of her legend were written at the end of the twelfth century. In one of these versions, Frideswide’s prayers bring forth a spring of healing water, known as the Treacle Well. The Treacle Well is also mentioned by the Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland.

The Princess who Hid in a Tree is a picture book retelling of Frideswide’s story, written by Jackie Holderness and illustrated by Alan Marks

Added on 28th August 2020

Oral tradition Legend from Oxford, England