St Michael's Church, Burgh: One Dead King

St Michael’s Church at Burgh by Sands was, for ten days, the centre of national and international attention. King Edward I had died close by on 7th July, 1307, while planning a raid into Scotland. His corpse was brought to this church where it lay in state, to be joined by the new king, Edward II, and the remaining court of London, who went on to Carlisle to formulate the new government. The body was slowly carried back south to York, and then on towards St Paul’s Cathedral and then Westminster Abbey where it was laid to rest. Edward was a strong king, a conqueror of Wales and scourge of Scotland, and was one of the last to have fought in the Holy Land. Yet that long and famous career came to an end here in this lonely place. He had planned to live longer, but his time had come, his summons to justice had been received.

St Michael’s Church and the village in which it stands are very much a back water, despite their charm and rustic beauty. Edward Plantagenet was born in a palace and died in the wild, briefly laid in an obscure parish church, though not without some state. The greater King whose dominions cover the entire cosmos was born in an obscure place and died in shame, but reigns now in glory. And before Him bows, or shall bow, old Edward Longshanks, divested of his armies and pomp.

Edward had planned well enough for Scotland, but what of eternity?