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King Merewald, Leominster’s Lion King

Our story this week is focused on a seventh century pagan King who ruled the realm of Mercia. His name was Merewald (also known as Merewalh) and his fierce and brave behaviour had earned him the nickname of ‘Lion’.

One evening after a day of ruling his large Kingdom, Merewald feeling exhausted decided to retire to bed and fell into a deep and troubling sleep. Tossing and turning he began to dream deeply, a dream so real that when he awoke his heart was racing with both excitement and uncertainty. But he knew that the dream was significant and was going to change his life forever. In his dream Merewald had received a visit from a Christian missionary who delivered to him a very important message. Unsure of its meaning he went about his business again, pondering the message that had filled his sleeping hours.

Uncannily on the same night in a far off place a holy man named Ealfrid (latterly known as St Edfrith) who was said to originate from Lindisfarne had a vision in which a lion fed from his hand.

Fate was to bring the two men together and when it did they found themselves sharing their dreams. For Merewald the similarities between their dreams were a sign of what his future held and he decided to convert to Christianity. It is told that Merewald established a church and convent on the very spot where the two men had first met. The church was founded in 660AD and a town grew up around it and was called Leominster in honour of the lion King.

If you visit Leominster Priory you’ll find a stone carving that tells of the legend of King Merewald. How very interesting!

These stories are curated from many sources and retold in our fun ESL style, in the true spirit of Folklore.

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