The history behind Loddon’s town sign
In the centre of Farthing Green stands Loddon’s town sign.
The sign was erected by the Parish Council in the early 1960’s from an original sculpture by the late Margot Kendle and represents the Saxon “hero” Aelfric Modercope.
The earliest written mention of Loddon (Lodne) is in the will of Aelfric Modercope written in 1042 or 1043 ‘before he went across the sea’.
In the will Aelfric split his land holdings in Loddon, Bergh Apton and Barton between the Bishops of Bury, Ely and St Benet of Holme respectively – “to St Edmund’s, Loddon – woodland, open land and fen – with as full rights as ever I owned it“.
Two writs by Edward the Confessor allowing him to ‘bow down to,’ i.e. give allegiance to the Bishops of Bury and Ely, and confirming his bequests also exist, one written before his death and one after, presumably as a dispute arose.
He died between 1051 and 1057.
Aelfric held some 450 acres of land in Loddon and was by far the biggest landowner.
His manor house is believed to have been close by the church overlooking the river and the fields are known as Manor Yards.
The list of benefactors at Bury St Edmunds record Aelfric as ‘Noblis Hero’ – Noble Hero – but do not record the brave deed that earned him this title.
Aelfric is an English name and Modercope is a Danish nickname. This would exemplify at the time when there was a strong Anglo-Danish movement and three successive Danish kings had held the throne until Edward the Confessor succeeded in 1042.
Aelfric had a strong connection at court, but his role and status are unusual.
There is a theory that Aelfric was the dapifer (steward) to Emma of Normandy, who died in 1042, which would potentially explain his position.
Queen Emma was a pivotal figure in English history. She was child bride to Aethelred the Unready. On his death and after the successful invasion by Cnut (Canute) was married by him to help legitimise his claim to the throne.
Two of her sons succeeded to the throne – Harthacnut ruled 1040 – 1042 and Edward the Confessor (son of Aethelred the Unready) 1042 – 1066.
She was also the beginning of the connection that led to the Norman invasion of 1066.
A visitor to Loddon looking over the grazing marsh near the church may wish to ponder that Aelfric’s sheep, careful divided between the two Abbeys in his will, grazed the very same spot more than a 1000 years ago.
Acknowledgment – Andrew Milner