Guerir and Ham Stroke

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Post by CJenkin » Wed Mar 01, 2006 5:02 pm

Does anyone know anything about St. Guerir or where Ham Stroke is in Cornwall?

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Post by TGG » Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:28 pm

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Posted: Mar 01, 2006 - 04:02 PM


Does anyone know anything about St. Guerir or where Ham Stroke is in Cornwall?

Hi Conan,

I feel sure that you know of this but several sites with the Asser Story

"Providence so ordered it, that when he was on a visit to Cornwall for the sake of hunting, and had turned out of the road to pray in a certain chapel, in which rests the body of Saint Guerir, (40) and now also St. Neot (41) rests there, -- for king Alfred was always from his infancy a frequent visitor of holy places for the sake of prayer and almsgiving,"

"(40) St. Guerir's church was at Ham Stroke, in Cornwall.

(41) An interesting account of St. Neot will be found in Gorham's
"History and Antiquities of Eynesbury and St. Neot's"."

Also :

And Catherine Rachel John's 'The Saints of Cornwall'

They declare their Cornishness with pride
Whilst oblivious to our genocide
That England imposes
With smiles and Red Roses
Where the innocents, so gullibly, reside.

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Post by GolowDydh » Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:35 pm

I have never heard of Ham Stroke, altough there are two adjacent areas of Plymouth called Ham and Stoke. But I don't think this is the connection you are after.

As far as St Guerir is concerned I think he may have been buried in what is now St Neot on the edge of Bodmin moor. I cannot find a record of what this area was called before St Neot came when it became known as Neot stock, later to be named St Neot as he was buried there, (before his remains were 'stolen' and taken to England in 974.)

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Post by Xxxxxx » Thu Mar 02, 2006 5:29 am

"Fancy a Ham Stroke?"

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Post by CJenkin » Thu Mar 02, 2006 12:14 pm

Dear all,
Thanks for all your input some more useful than others (Stroppy!). The reason I asked the question came about from a discussion with a Celtic Devon fanatic who was trying to argue that Cornwall was under Saxon rule by the time of Alfred the example he used was Asser's Life of Alfred. Indeed it has been used by numerous anglo-centric scholars in the past to justify Cornwall was well under the rule of Wessex.
There are a number of problems with Asser's Life
- there is a lively debate concerning whether it was written in the 870s or 150 years later
- there is also evidence of several episodes being added at a later date
- then there is a problem in interpreting the latin text.

All three of these cause concern regarding the St. Neot episode in the Life. Two specific terms seem strange to me. Firstly 'Guerir' in the latin text Alfred whilst hunting visits a 'chapel where the body of st. guerir lies' for healing. Ther may have been a simpler text of 'chapel guerir' which may have been translated as a Chapel of St. Guerir.
I can find no other reference to a St. Guerir anywhere apart from in this text. It seems to be a complete mystery. A later addition to the text suggests that it was St. Neots, however Cornish St. Neots was not called St. Neots until the later medieval period and certainly not contempory with Asser's life TGGs second URL illustrates the problems with linking the two St. Neots.
To add to this, Guerir in old French means healing - throwing more doubt onto the validity of Alfred's Cornwall episode.
In many translations, there is a gloss saying that the chapel was located at Ham Stroke in Cornwall. Again I have found no such place and it seems that it could be a very dubious statement. Stroke seems to be an unusual placename for cornwall by any stretch of the imagination and when Ham or Stoke do appear in Cornish placenames they tend to be along the Tamar corridor some distance from present day St. Neot.
This has quite substantial implications in terms of Cornish historiography, so I would be interested in people's view.

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