Saint put Bridlington on the map

John Wardle, former Rector of Bridlington Priory, launching his book on the Life of St John during the opening ceremony.
John Wardle, former Rector of Bridlington Priory, launching his book on the Life of St John during the opening ceremony.

A former rector of Bridlington Priory has penned a book about the saint that put the town on the map after gaining exclusive access to Vatican records.

St John of Bridlington is the inspiration for the book which has been written by retired rector John Wardle, 65, who first started his research almost a decade ago.

During a three month sabbatical in 2005 the Rev Wardle travelled to Rome where he was given exclusive access to Vatican records, including the original medieval Latin document detailing the canonisation of St John and his links to Bridlington.

“It was an amazing experience just getting into the Vatican,” said Rev Wardle who had the official backing of the Bishop of Hull the Rt Rev Richard Frith.

Rev Wardle endured rigorous security checks by heavily armed guards before being granted a two day pass.

Retiring in 2008, after serving as rector for nine years, Rev Wardle was able to finally pull together his research, which also included a visit to the British Library in London, to compile ‘St John of Bridlington: His Life and Legacy’ which he says has attracted praise from academics.

Now he hopes the book, which was launched to coincide with the Priory 900 celebrations, will help to educate the public about how important St John was for the town.

“It’s about bringing St John to the fore, reminding people that Bridlington was put on the map by Prior John because otherwise Bridlington was like any other place, but it became a saint’s place in the 15th Century,” Rev Wardle said.

The book tells the story of Prior John de Thweng who, in 1401, became St John of Bridlington.

After his canonisation the Priory became a popular destination for pilgrims, with the story featuring the many places around the country touched by St John who became the patron saint of monarchs and nobles, sailors and merchants.

The book also brings the saint’s legacy up to date with a look at the current Priory community as it continues to serve the people of Bridlington and beyond.

The Priory 900 celebrations, which got underway last month, were the catalyst for finalising the book which has been sponsored by the Lord Feoffees.

It is now on sale, priced at £5, at the Priory shop, Bethany Book Shop, Tourist Information and the Bayle Museum, in Bridlington. The proceeds will go to the Lord Feoffees to help them further their work at the Bayle Museum.

For further information about the priory 900 celebrations go to www.priory900.org