May 30th is the feast day of Saint Walstan, the acknowledged patron saint of Norfolk. Walstan is believed to have been born in Bawburgh in Norfolk. He was born into a wealthy family connected with the royal house of East Anglia, at the age of twelve he forsook his wealthy background to follow a life of evangelical poverty and became a farm worker for thirty three years. He had a reputation for piety and generosity, giving away food and clothing and often going barefoot. Walstan died whilst scything a meadow and his body was laid on a cart pulled by two white oxen, with the cart journeying to Bawburgh, where he was buried. Local tales speak of a spring that arose at three points along his final journey where he was buried!
Because of his life dedicated to farming and the care of farm animals, he is also the patron saint of farms, farmers, farmhands, ranchers and husbandrymen. There are many links and associations between Walstan and Norfolk. Many communities throughout the county, celebrate St. Walstan’s feast day and on the 1,000th anniversary of his death, in 2016, various ceremonies were held to mark the occasion, including gatherings at the site of his shrine in Bawburgh, a performance staged at Bawburgh Church to celebrate his life and a service led by the bishops of Norwich and East Anglia.
The extent to which he is acknowledged and celebrated in his own county is amply demonstrated by the naming of a new housing development outside Norwich as Saint Walstan’s.