Æthelberht who worshiped Wotan was married to Berta who was a Christian. The king permitted her to restore an old Roman church for her use.
At the request of king Æthelberht a papal party of about 40 men led by Augustine arrived in Kent in 597. The king had a meeting with them in the open so that the monks could not work magic on him. He permitted the monks to preach in Kent and some time later he was converted, ten thousand of his subjects followed.
When Æthelberht died in 616 Kent returned to being Heathen for a few decades.
Meanwhile his nephew, Saeberht, the king of Essex was also converted.
Rædwald, king of East Anglia, was only partly converted (apparently while at Æthelberht’s court) and retained a pagan shrine next to the new Christian altar.
Meanwhile in 627 King Edwin of Northumbria and all his nobles were baptised. He may have been influenced by his wife, Ethelburgh, who was a Christian. Most of his subjects followed.
Missionaries also preached in the kingdom of Mercia. In 653 King Paeda of Mercia was converted and baptised and gradually the realm was converted.
The last part of England to be converted to Christianity was Sussex. It was converted after 680 by St. Wilfrid. Finally by the end of the 7th century all of England was at least nominally Christian.
Christianity introduced Sunday as a day of rest together with a permanent tax system of one tenth of your produce. Sacred oak trees were cut down and replaced with pine trees. Pagan temples were converted into churches. However some people continued to secretly worship the old pagan gods into the 8th century......
Æthelberht didst meet, his wife's monks outside,
Because he would have, their magic denied.
When they built their church, much magic they wove,
And won him over, from his sacred grove.
That wise Rædwald kept, two altars laden,
A Christian next, to the old pagan.
Edwin of the North, gave up the pagan,
As Ethelburgh was, a Christian maiden.
Kings and Drychten did, the monks mesmerise,
Paeda of Mercia, did they then baptise.
Sussex held out but, a few years longer,
Those fay folk were, of the old gods fonder.
Each day of the Sun, we're granted some rest,
The new religion, gave us this new fest.
But tenth of our labours, by night and day,
To the village church, must we all now pay.
In church I must pray, to our given Lord,
But still have the runes, on my damask sword.
My spear is still cut, from Wodan's ash tree,
I sing over herbs, I pick three times three.
As to my Drychten, I am a good ward,
I follow his lead, unto his accord.
But to the old gods, I offer in stealth,
And make herbal charms, for restoring health.
Within my secret, faery woodland glade,
The old ones still come, to my natural aid.
Where votive offerings, they used to be laid,
A pine tree now stands, where libations were made.
But in deepest depth, of the wild green wood,
Where the mighty oak, of grey beard once stood.
And votive offerings, were solemnly laid,
The old gods doth now, into the mist fade.
We do sill have the, giver of treasure,
We sit at the feast, drinking much pleasure.
We still revel in, the smokey mead hall,
And in the still wood, the old gods still call.
Copyright Andrew Rea March 2015