More about Odda

As promised in our post about Odda’s Chapel, Deerhurst last week, here’s a little more about Odda:

An inscription found in Odda's Chapel from 1056

An inscription found in Odda’s Chapel from 1056. From a photo by quisnovus, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Odda was described by the chronicler John of Worcester as “a lover of churches, restorer of the poor, defender of widows and orphans, helper of the oppressed, guardian of chastity”, and as “a kinsman of King Edward the Confessor” by William of Malmesbury.

16th century writings by antiquarian Pershore chronicler John Leland give Odda’s father’s name as “Elfer”. It has been proposed that Odda is descended from one of the siblings of the chronicler Ealdorman Ethelweard and Ælfgifu, wife of Edward’s great-uncle King Eadwig.

Evidence in the Domesday Book suggests Odda held at least 167 hides of land during Edwards reign, making him one of the great landowners of England. He held estates in Gloucestershire, Devon, Herefordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

The dispute between King Edward and Earl Godwin led to Odda becoming earl of Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. Along with earl Ralf, Odda commanded forces raised to patrol in defence of any attempt to return from the exiled Godwin and sons from 1052. One particular army led by Odda and Ralf saw off a Godwin-led invasion in Sussex before King Edward eventually revoked the exile and restored the earldoms and land to Godwin and his sons.

Odda died in Deerhurst on 31 August 1056. It was Bishop Aldred of Worcester who ordained Odda as a monk in his later life. They are both buried at Pershore.

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