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St Budoc - St Botolphs

The details of St Budocs' life are sketchy. He was born in Wales or possible Ireland, he became a missionary mainly in Devon and Cornwall where churches are dedicated to him. Later he became a hermit at Brehat in Brittany (570AD) and later still founded a monastery. In 575AD he was concecrated bishop of Dol (Dol-de-Bretagne -Municipality, Ille-et-Vilaine, France). He died in 585AD and was buried at Plourin where his relics are preserved.

St Botolphs mansion

The remains of a chapel dedicated to St Budoc lies 1km north-east of the Pill Priory site and this particular saint evidently represented the predominant cult in the immediate locality, the chapel was used for worship by the monks of Pill Priory.

St. Botolph's was purchased by one of A. I. Stokes, Esq. relatives, in 1826, from the representatives of General le Hunt, who bought it, in 1803, from the family of the Elliots, to whom it had belonged for many years. The present mansion was built in 1800, about a hundred yards to the west of the ancient edifice and partly on the site of a monastery, supposed to have been a cell to Pill Priory. In excavating the ground for the new building, several stone coffins containing human remains of people who lived in the far distant ages were discovered in a rude stone grave in solid rockbones were dug up; and part of the walls of the ancient monastery, which are still remaining, have been incorporated with the out-buildings of the modern mansion.

The ruines were apparently covered by the 'ball room' extension that was build adjacent to the St Botolphs mansion (extension seen here on the right of the photograph). St Botolps mansion itself was apparently built upon the site of an old monastry, called after St Botoph.

 

The Haunting of St. Budocs/St. Buttocks chapel 

The old chapel was in ruins by the late Middle Ages and the first mansion was built on the site during the 1500's (by Mr. Le Hunt, an Irish gentleman?) .  It was rebuilt in 1807 as a stately and elegant home and since the original name was not suitable for use in refined circles, the mansion was renamed St. Botolph's. 

St Botolphs mansion

When Amoco was involved in the construction of the nearby refinery, the company bought the house for use as an office and residence for key workers. One night a worker was woken up by a strange sound which at first he could not identify.  Then, when he was fully awake, he realised that the sound was that of a group of monks chanting and praying.  Eventually the sound disappeared and the man went back to sleep.  Nobody believed him  when he related this to his colleagues in the morning and indeed neither he nor anybody else at the time was aware that the site was once used as a place of worship by the monks of Pill Priory.  

This is apparently the only recorded instance of a ghostly haunting by monks in the mansion.  However, there is another resident  ghost which began to appear after the mansion was bought and converted into luxury flats by Mr and Mrs Beer, businessman Ralph Beer died in 2007 and his partner Cecile Lacroix, a talented artist died in 2002.

The mansion passed to Ralph's nephew on his death and is a place of faded grandeur that still has the power to take your breath away. The ballroom in later years became Cecile's studio and was apparently the host of many a good party. It is quite a haunting place despite being fully lived in by tenants and will probably never see its glory days again The ghost is female, and appears harmless and friendly and some of her visitations are remembered by Mrs Merrl Lloyd, who was brought up in the mansion.

 

Who was St Botolphs?

St. Botolph was apparently one of the earliest and most revered of the East Anglian saints and became known as the patron saint of wayfarers.

Botolph and his brother Adolph were young Saxon nobles living in the 7th century, they were sent for their education to a Benedictine Abbey in France. Adolph rose to be a Dutch Bishop, whilst Botolph came back to his native East Anglia. He was given, by King Anna, a grant of land on which to build a monastery. This land was at Icanhoh, a site that has been said to be the present Boston (Botolph’s Town) in Lincolnshire but is more likely to have been Iken, near Aldeburgh in Suffolk. Certainly Icanhoh was in a marshland area, for Botolph was said to have expelled the swamps of their ‘Devils’—in fact, he probably had the marshes drained and eliminated the ‘marsh gas’ with its night glow.

St. Botolph died after a long life of Christian endeavour and teaching in 680. The monastery lived on for two centuries more but in 870AD was destroyed by Danish invaders. King Edgar (963–967AD) ordered that the remains of the saint be taken from the monastery ruins and be divided into three parts: the head to be taken to Ely, the middle to be taken to Thorney, and the remainder to be taken to Westminster Abbey.

The relics were brought to London through various towns and eventually through the four City gates of Aldersgate, Bishopsgate, Aldgate and Billingsgate. The churches at the entrances to these gates were named after him. The first three remain, but the one at Billingsgate was destroyed in the Great Fire (1666) and never rebuilt. It seems that as his relics were conveyed from place to place, his name became associated with wayfarers and travellers.

Over 70 Churches, along with five towns and villages are dedicated to him and although St. Botolph has no place in the Prayer Book Calendar, his feast day is 17th June.

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