King Alfred Weekend 2022

The annual Hyde900 King Alfred Weekend took place this year from 20th–23rd October and was a great success. It is always held as close as possible to the anniversary of the King’s death on 26th October 899.
As the lay church for the Abbey, St Bartholomew’s Church has long commemorated the occasion. Since the Hyde Abbey 900th anniversary celebrations in 2010, Hyde900 has organised an annual programme celebrating the history of the Hyde area and the latest finds from the Community Dig, along with musical events and walking tours.

The Weekend began on Thursday with presentations on ‘All things Hyde’. Hyde900 Dig Coordinator David Spurling gave a presentation of what had been uncovered during this year’s Community Digs.

The April dig located for the first time the north wall of the abbey church and adjacent buttress. Finds included a wonderful ‘beak head’, possibly a griffon, thought to be one of a pair.
Over 200 people took part in the August dig. The find of the 12th century culvert taking water from the mill stream hit the headlines and was the subject of the following days talk by Dr John Crook.

Bronwen Stone gave a fascinating slide presentation on the Community Dig’s medieval glass find, explaining how the different uses of stained glass could be identified according to their colour. So far 800 fragments have been catalogued, and Bronwen has calculated that the total area of glass recovered would amount to 2.5 square metres.

Since Hyde900’s events for Heritage Open Days had to be cancelled due to the death of the Queen, Professor Chris Mulvey gave the talk he had prepared on the Heritage Open Days theme of ‘Astounding Inventions’. His talk was entitled ‘King Alfred’s Astounding Inventions’, which include the basis of the English language as we know it, used in his Latin translations of psalms and religious writings. Afterwards, there was cheese and wine and an opportunity to chat to the experts.

The King Alfred Lecture on Friday evening was aptly named ‘Flushed Away’: architectural historian Dr John Crook revealed the story of an underground drainage culvert  discovered  during  this  year’s

Community Dig, which aroused huge public and media interest. John has explored and studied medieval drains for over 50 years and says: “The find has the potential to be one of the earliest medieval drainage culverts in the country. Such drainage systems in medieval abbeys are often unseen, and frequently the oldest structure of any building and beautifully engineered”. His talk was a fascinating account of the culvert discovered at the Community Dig, how these functioned and where they led under the gardens of Hyde house owners.   

On Saturday morning local councilor John Tippett-Cooper was questioned by Rose Burns on the difficulties in creating a better environment around the Hyde Gate area and how it should become a heritage focal point, on a par with the importance of St Cross. This was followed by the Hyde900 AGM, refreshments and sandwiches.

That evening we were treated to a wonderful performance by Amici Ensemble who played music from the 16th and 17th centuries on viols and a lute, the instruments of that age. The music was also accompanied by exceptional singing. The players explained the instruments and music as they went, making it a fascinating evening.

The annual King Alfred Service took place at St Bartholomew’s church on the Sunday. A very special service which included a choir singing Psalm 23 in Anglo-Saxon, using the words translated by King Alfred.

This was followed by a procession to Hyde Abbey Gardens to lay flowers on the graves of King Alfred and his wife.

In addition to the events at St Bartholomew, there was medieval tile-making in the Parish Hall and guided walks around Hyde conducted by a local expert.