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A History of Brickendon

The Legend of the Holy Thorn

In England the Holy Thorn still blooms at midnight on January 5th, the date of the Old Christmas Eve. The calendar was changed in 1752 and the Christmas festival was moved backward to its present date, but the tree remains faithful to the earlier calendar.

The Holy Thorn comes from the thornwood staff of St Joseph of Arimathea.

Long ago, it is said, when he was in Britain preaching, he visited Glastonbury, where he thrust his staff into the ground as he rested. There it rooted itself and grew, and every year since then it has blossomed on January 5th.

Cuttings of the original Glastonbury Thorn (which was destroyed by the Puritans, who did not approve of Christmas celebrations) were fortunately taken and planted elsewhere, and some of these are still alive today. There is one in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey and another in Herefordshire. But most important to us all, there is one in our own church field here in Brickendon, planted by Constance Demain Saunders.

More than once it has been recorded that these winter-flowering hawthorns have bloomed precisely at midnight of Old Christmas Eve.