Village in Bloom
Past Notable Events
Certain events occur just once or very infrequently. This area of the site is for those events which were particularly special and should be recorded for visitors to see how we celebrated these events.
Part of the village Millennium photo
The Bracelet of St Bega
A Miracle Play for the Millennium
St Bees Priory
A highly successful presentation of this play took place over three nights in November, 2000, playing to some 600 people. It was repeated in 2010 and it is planned to re-stage it every 10 years.
The theme of the play is Bega's personal 'pilgrimage' from doubt to faith. The development of the action should encourage the audience, who themselves represent pilgrims to her shrine, to pursue the same personal quest. Just as Bega allowed the light of Christ to shine into her own life, and, through her, to illumine West Cumbria in the seventh century, so we who have celebrated Christ's 2000th birthday need to rekindle his light within ourselves, and enable it to shine strongly in our area into the new millennium.
At the beginning of the play, Bega is merely a dreamer, convinced that there must be more to life than domestic drudgery and childbearing. Although she is young and beautiful - legend has it that she was the most beautiful woman in Ireland - and is sought by countless suitors of noble birth, she has no desire to marry, to pass her days in the huts of a man she does not love. She prefers to wander on the seashore or in the mountains, to look up at the stars and to wonder how far they stretch, and who made them, and whether he can be known. Therefore she is misunderstood by everyone - family, friends, and especially father, an Irish chieftain, who wants her married off to some princeling whose reputation will enhance his own. Bega's family have been nominally Christian for two hundred years - since the time of St. Patrick - but have long since 'lost the plot' as far as faith is concerned. So much so, that when an embassy arrives from the son of a Norse king, Bega's father decides that she shall marry him, even though he is a pagan.
Bega has had enough, and makes her escape. She has been granted a vision, and been given a betrothal gift from none other than Christ himself: a beautiful bracelet engraved with the sign of the cross. Fleeing across the sea, she fetches up on the Cumbrian coast and lives the life of a hermit, slowly discovering more about herself and about her God. Ultimately, however, she is challenged to return to the world of men to share with them what she has learnt. Yes, there is more to life than we know, but the challenge is to let it transfigure the ordinary and the everyday, rather than to withdraw from the world and its wickedness.
About Jill Hudson
Jill works part time at St. Bees School, where she teaches Latin, Music and Divinity. She and her husband Keith moved into Cumbria 20 years ago and now live at Drigg; Keith teaches Physics at Whitehaven School. Together they run 'Mark One' a youth gospel choir with members from 7 local schools (St. Bees, Whitehaven, Wyndham, St. Benedicts, Ehenside, Keswick, West Cumbria College). When Jill is not teaching, she is writing; in addition to her play 'The Bracelet of St. Bega' Jill has written three published novels: 'Rabshakeh', 'Zoheleth' and 'Hadassah', all of which are based on the lives of colourful Old Testament characters. (Copies can be obtained by contacting Jill on +44 (0)19467 21592) Just last month (September 2000) Jill's fourth book was published; not a novel this time, but a devotional commentary on the biblical Book of Esther. It's called 'Esther: for Such a Time as This'.
Jill's main hobbies include fell walking, rock climbing, skiing and foreign travel.
The Bega Statue
A statue commissioned from Colin Telfer
As part of the village's Millennium Celebrations, and there were many, it was felt that there should be one action which would perhaps still be in the village for the Centennial celebrations if not the next Millennium ones!
The obvious choice was a statue, and equally obvious, was the subject matter - St Bega, after whom the village is named.
This of course mean that St Bees now has two Bega statues - the original one in the Priory by Josefina de Vasconcellos,and the Millennium one by the railway station.