Wulfrun

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Charles Wheeler's statue of Lady Wulfrun at St Peter's Church, Wolverhampton

Wulfrun(a) (c. 935–1005)[1] was an Anglo-Saxon (early English) noble woman and landowner, who established a landed estate at Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England in 985. Contemporary knowledge of her comes from several text sources:

  • Year 943 entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says that Vikings seized her when they took the fort at Tamworth. [It was in all probability to obtain a ransom.]
  • Listed as a witness in an Anglo-Saxon charter dated 985, which is listed as no. 650 in Kemble's "Codex Diplomaticus Ævi Saxoni". In it King Ethelred II (Ethelred the Unready), granted to Wulfrun ten hides of land at Hēatūn, which means "high or principal farm or enclosure". * It is recorded that in 994 Wulfrun gave ten hides of land to endow a church at a place called Heantune (dative case). This may be the same land as in the previous entry. The church had previously been founded as an abbey by Wulfere.
  • A charter to Eynsham Monastery dated 1005 says that Wulfrun bequeathed land at Ramsey, "being at her last breath".
  • The West Midlands placename Wolverhampton seems to have come from Anglo-Saxon Wulfrūnehēantūn = "Wulfrūn's high or principal enclosure or farm",[2][3][4] though a local tradition says that King Wulfhere of Mercia was involved in the founding of the town, the church, or both. Older forms of the town's name run against this hypothesis. Many buildings and firms in Wolverhampton are named after Wulfrun, for example, The Wulfrun Centre, Lady Wulfrun (formerly "The Goose in the city" pub), Wulfrun Hall and the Wulfrun Hotel.

It is thought probable that these references all refer to the same woman, Lady Wulfrun. The "a" commonly seen at the end of her name is a latinisation.

She founded a convent in Tamworth, where it is believed she is buried.

Wulfrun had two sons: Ælfhelm (Ealdorman of Northumbria), and Wulfric Spot, founder of Burton Abbey.

The relevant Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entries are (from the Worcester manuscript):-

  • 941: Her Norðhymbra alugon hira getreowaða 7 Anlaf of Yrlande him to cinge gecuron.
  • 943: Her Anlaf abræc Tamewurþe, 7 micel wæl gefeol on ægþra hand, 7 þa Denan sige ahton, 7 micele herehuþe mid him aweglæddon, þær wæs Wulfrun genumen on þære hergunge. Her Eadmund cyning ymbsæt Anlaf cyning 7 Wulfstan arcebiscop on Legraceastre, 7 he hy gewyldan meahte, nære þæt hi on niht ut ne ætburston of þære byrig, 7 æfter þæm begeat Anlaf Eadmundes cynges freondscipe, 7 se cyning Eadmund onfeng þa Anlafe cyninge æt fulwihte, 7 he him cynelice gyfode. 7 ðy ilcan geare ymbe tæla mycelne fyrst he onfeng Regnalde cyninge æt bisceopes handa.
  • 941: Here the Northumbrians belied their promises and chose Olaf from Ireland as king.
  • 943: Here Olaf broke down Tamworth and great slaughter fell on either side, and the Danes had the victory and led away great war-booty with them. There Wulfrun was taken in that raid. Here king Edmund besieged Olaf and archbishop Wulfstan in Leicester, and he might have controlled them, except that they broke out of the fort in the night, and after that Olaf had king Edmund's friendship, and king Edmund received king Olaf at baptism, and gave to him royally. And in the same year after a fairly long time he received Rægnald at a bishop's hands.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lady Wulfruna c. 935-1005, Founder of the City". Wolverhampton City Council. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Keith Farley (1985). "Wolverhampton 985 – 1985". Wolverhampton History & Heritage Society. Retrieved 8 July 2007. 
  3. ^ Horovitz, David (2005). The Place-names of Staffordshire. p. 585. ISBN 0955030900. 
  4. ^ Upton, Chris (2007). A History of Wolverhampton. The History Press. p. 8. ISBN 186077508X.