TODAY is the feast day of Saint Godric, a 12th-century hermit born in Norfolk to poor parents. When he was young he went to sea for 16 years as a pirate. A stopover at Lindisfarne moved him deeply but he was not yet saintly. In his next job, as a steward in a noble household, he was involved in local pillaging. Two pilgrimages, to Provence and Rome, set him on the straight and narrow and he ended his days as a hermit in Durham where he became a friend to wild animals. He is said to have had the gift of prophecy and to have foretold the martyrdom of Thomas Becket. His biographer, a monk called Reginald, recorded four songs from his lips which are among the oldest surviving written pieces which show rhyme and measure.
21 May, 1780: Elizabeth Fry, English Quaker philanthropist and prison reformer, was born Elizabeth Gurney, daughter of a rich Quaker banker. Aged 20 she married Joseph Fry, a London Quaker merchant, and in 1810 became a Quaker preacher. Her ardour for prison reform began in 1813 after a visit to Newgate Prison for women where she found 300 women in appalling conditions, many with their children. Elizabeth visited the prisoners (considered an odd thing for a women of her class), founded schools for their children and helped win reforms in food and accommodation. Despite her husband's bankruptcy in 1828, she continued to work for the poor.Reuse content