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.