Is this the location of Edmund’s coronation? Along a deserted farm track, hidden amidst woodland and overlooking the Stour Valley, is the ancient thatched church of St Stephen, also known as Chapel Barn.
On Christmas Day 855, Bishop Humbert of Elmham anointed a 14-year-old boy as King of the East Angles. The boy was Edmund and his Coronation was documented at ‘Burva’. The chronicler Galfridus de Fontibus also described the coronation as having taken place at ‘Bures’, which is an ancient royal hill. It is the general belief that this was the lonely hilltop, where St Stephen’s Chapel now stands.
Within are examples of carved ‘daisy wheel’ motifs, found in parish churches across the region. Dating to at least the Bronze Age, the daisy wheel was originally a solar symbol, possibly linked with veneration of the Brythonic goddess Sulis and her Irish equivalent Brigid. The symbol was later appropriated as a Marian cipher. Within parish churches, its use was possibly as ritual protection: magical sigils designed to ward off evil or trap demons within their complex structure, quite literally pinning them to the walls.
The chapel fell into disuse after the reformation; it was converted to a hospital in the plague of 1739 and later became cottages then eventually a barn, hence its local name.
It was restored to its present condition in the 1930s by members of the Probert family and re-consecrated. Once a year each summer, a service is held in the chapel by the congregation of St Mary`s Church, Bures.