ST. AUGUSTINE`S ABBEY
Longport, Canterbury, Kent, CT1-1PF.
In 597 Augustine arrived with 40 monks in England, having been sent by Pope/Bishop of Rome Gregory 1 `the Great`, on what would be called a revival mission. The King of Kent at this time was AEthelberht who was married to Queen Bertha who was a Christian, it is quite likely she was the linchpin in getting the mission into England, AEthelberht allowed Augustine to found a monastery just outside the walls of Canterbury to the east of the city. King AEthelberht ordered the church to be erected of “becoming splendour, dedicated to the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and endowed it with a variety of gifts”. William Thorne, the late fourteenth-century chronicler of the abbey, records 598 as the year of the foundation.
Already standing on the site were three Saxon churches dedicated respectively to Saint Pancras, Peter and Paul, and finally Saint Mary. The Saxon-phase remains of the church of St. Pancras are still extent, however, the other two churches were rebuilt by the Normans into one building. One of the main purposes of the abbey right from the outset was the burial place for the King`s of Kent and the archbishops of Canterbury.
In 978 a new building was dedicated by Archbishop Dunstan to the Saints Peter, Paul and Augustine. An account by Goscelin of a miracle in the mid-eleventh century at the abbey for the benefit of the colourful monastic goldsmith Spearhavoc gives interesting details as to the contents of the church of this time.
Site tel /- 01227-767345
Customer Services tel /- 0870-333-1181
5th November 2016 – 28th March 2017
Sat – Sun 1000hrs – 1600hrs
not open during the week.
1st April- 30 September 2017
opening times Wed – Sun :- 10.00 – 18.00hrs
1st October – 31st October 2017
opening times Wed – Sun :- 10.00 – 18.00hrs
1st November – 29th March 2018
opening times Sat / Sun :- 10.00 – 16.00hrs
Closed over Christmas.
Admission Prices 2017
English Heritage member Free
Student (card) over 60yrs
Family 2 adults & 3 children £16-10p
There is no cafe, but the shop sells a variety of hot and cold drinks, snacks,sweets and ice creams.
The shop also sells a large number of English Heritage gifts and books.
This contains artifacts and stone carvings found at the abbey during excavations. There is a wide range of objects covering many centuries, including a skeleton and the costums worn by actors playing King AEthelberht and Queen Bertha of Kent in a celebration of Augustine`s arrival in Kent.
there is a short video giving brief details of phases of the building on the site.
Transport, accommodation and places to eat are the same as St. Martin`s church.
KING AETHELBERT & QUEEN BERTHA STATUES
On Lady Wootton`s Green, Canterbury.
Lady Wootton`s Green, forms a physical and historical link between the Cathedral , St. Augustine`s abbey and St. Martin`s church.
In 580 Bertha, the great grand-daughter of Clovis the founder of the Frankish monarchy, married King AEthelberht of Kent, she was a christian and a former Roman building, said to be on the site of the current St. Martin`s church, was adapted for her use as a chapel. Her route there from the city started from what is now Queningate, a blocked pedestrian gate in the southern city wall, and passed through the fields which would later become Lady Wootton`s Green, in 597 Pope/Bishop of Rome Gregory `the Great` sent Prior Augustine to convert the English to Christianity in competition with the Celtic church, whose great Abbot Colomba form Iona had just passed on, the Celtic church was so successful that the apostle of England is St. Aidan, whilst St. Augustine is the apostle of Kent, On arrival Augustine was allowed to use the Queen`s chapel for worship, by 601 King AEthelbreht had been converted to Christianity and provided the resources for what would become the first Archbishop of Canterbury to build his Cathedral in the city and the abbey to bear his name outside the city walls. The abbey was to become the burial place of the Kings of Kent and the archbishops of Canterbury, and the Green became part of a ceremonial route between the city and abbey, it also contained the Mulberry market and from the 12th century the abbey`s almonry with an associate chapel.
the Green is named after Lady Wootton who was widowed in 1626and lived there until she died in 1659, later came into public ownership and so took her name.
In 2007 the statues of the king and queen created by Stephen Methon of Ramsgate were installed, they were given by the Canterbury Commemoration Society to the city in recognition of the part they played in re-establishing the Christian faith in England.
DOVER CASTLE & ST. MARY DE CASTRO CHURCH
Castle Hill, Dover, Kent, CT16-1HU.
Tel 01304 211 067
This site may have been fortified with earthworks in the Iron Age or earlier, before the Romans invaded in 43 A.D. This is suggested on the basis of the unusual pattern of the earthworks which do not seem to be a perfect fit for the Medieval castle. Excavations have provided evidence of Iron Age occupation within the locality of the castle, but it is not certain whether this is associated with the hill-fort. There has been excavations on the mound on which the church and Roman Pharos are situated. It has been discovered that this was from the Bronze Age.
The site also contained one of Dover’s two 80 foot (24m) Roman lighthouses (or Pharoses). One of which still survives, whilst the remains of the other are located on the opposing Western Heights, across the town of Dover, on the site is a classic montroi (campsite) where the French-Normans landed after their conquest.
SAXON AND EARLY FRENCH-NORMAN
After the Battle of Senlac Ridge/Hastings in October 1066. The Duke of Normandy and his forces marched to Westminster Abbey for his self proclaimed coronation. They took a roundabout route via Romney, Dover, Canterbury, Surrey and Berkshire, from the Cinque Ports foundation in 1050. Dover has always been the chief member – it may also have been this that attracted the Dukes attention, and got Kent the motto of ‘Invicta’ (unconquered) [the people of Kent offered the Duke, self proclaimed King of England battle in 1067, as they waylaid him on a road in Kent, unless he allowed them to carry on with their own laws, he acquiesced to these demands and so ‘Invicta’ was borne for the people of Kent].
Then he marched to Dover, which had been reported impregnable and held by a large force. The English stricken with fear at his approach had confidence neither in their ramparts nor in the number of their troops… While the inhabitants were preparing to surrender unconditionally (the French-Normans) greedy for money, set the castle in flames… [William then paid for the repair and] having taken possession of the castle, the Duke spent eight days adding new fortifications to it. The castle was first built, entirely out of clay. It collapsed to the ground and the clay was then used as the flooring for many of the ground-floor rooms.
This may have been repairs and improvements to an existing Saxon fort or burgh, centred on the Saxon church of St. Mary de Castro, although archaeological evidence suggests that it was actually a new Motte and Bailey design castle built from scratch, nearby.
In 1088 eight knights were appointed under tenures to guard Dover Castle.
ST. MARY de CASTRO CHURCH
This is the church in the grounds of Dover Castle, it is a heavily restored Saxon structure, built next to the Roman lighthouse which became the church bell-tower, the church serves the local population.
Dover is a major port on the south-east coast of England and has been a port for many centuries, it is the narrowest part of the English Channel, its proximity to mainland Europe (20 miles/32km) has made it a key military, maritime and trade location for millennia. The Romans built forts here in c. 130 A.D. and c. 270 A.D., also building two Pharoses (lighthouses) c. 130 A.D. on the Eastern and Western Heights above the gap in the cliffs, St. Mary in Castro is on the Eastern Heights.
There are records of a church being built ‘within the castle’ (Latin in Castro) by Eadbold of Kent in the 630s. However, it is unclear whether this means within the Saxon burgh (usually dated to later than 630) on the Eastern Heights or within the ruins of the old Roman fortifications in the valley. The large, late-Saxon cemetery around the present church does suggest the existence of a 600 church but not definitely.
Whether or not it had a predecessor, the present Saxon church was built on the Eastern Heights around 1000 A.D. It is immediately adjacent to the surviving Pharos, which was used as a source of Spoila: Roman tiles can be still be seen throughout the churches walls. the plinth that projects out beneath the church and on which it stands, however, is of new stone. The church is cruciform with a central tower the same width as the nave but broader than the chancel and transepts, the nave has no aisles. The door arch is the earliest to survive in any standing church in England.
Feb – Mar Wed – Sun 10.00 – 16.00hrs
Mon – Tues closed
Family 2 adults £50-40p
up to 3 children
Last admission 1hr before closing.
There are four types of cafes around the castle offering different things.
There are two shops within the castle.
Dover Priory Station mainline from London
Stagecoach Service Nos 15, 15x, 80, 80A, 93.
There is free car-parking within the castle for 200 cars, plus at peak times and events off-site parking with a free mini-bus connection to the castle.
Recommend to use the A2 to Dover than the A20 which has heavy traffic for the port.
Market Square, Dover, Kent, CT16 – 1PH.
Telephone – 01304 201066 E – mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday – Saturday 09.30 – 17.oohrs throughout the year.
Sunday (April – September) 10.00 – 15.00hrs / closed October – March.
Closed 25th – 25th December and 1st January.
There is a small shop selling items which is open whilst the museum is open.
There is regular train and bus services to Dover, plus car-parking.
There is an Anglo-Saxon display amongst other displays in this very interesting museum.
The stand alone item in the Anglo-Saxon display is the magnificent Saxon ring which is estimated to be from the mid-sixth century.
It was discovered in a Saxon rubbish layer near Dover`s Market Street in 1972 by the CIB Archaeological Rescue Corps, during the excavations for the York Street dual carriageway.
The ring has a garnet stone set in a gold quatrefoil bezel and is decorated with wire gold and granulated gold. It is one of the best-preserved and most impressive Saxon rings found in England, it probably belonged to a senior member of the court of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Kent.
Archaeological discoveries indicate that Dover must have been an important Saxon centre. There have been some spectacular local Anglo-Saxon finds including the Priory Hill Brooch, the Old Park Silver Gilt Horned Mount and the Buckland Anglo-Saxon Cemetery. Many of these are now on display at Dover Museum, including a selection of the find from the 400 Saxon graves excavated at Buckland in 1951 and 1999.
THE LONG SHIP
Sandwich road, Cliffsend, Nr Ramsgate, Kent. CT12 – 5HY
A full-size replica Long ship complete with shields is situated on the Sandwich road, just north of Cliffsend on the sea side of the road, the site overlooks Pegwell Bay. The Long Ship was placed here to commemorate the landing of Hengist and Horsa, Jutish mercenaries who had been contracted by the British King Vertigen to fight for the Britons / British against the invading Picts from Caledonia and the Scots from what is now Ireland, they landed here on the Isle of Thanet in what is reckoned to be in the year 449 A.D.
The replica ship, named `Hugin`sailed from Denmark to Thanet in 1949 to celebrate the 1,500th anniversary of their landing, the area is known as Ebbsfleet, to cement their contract Hengist`s daughter Rowena was betrothed to the king, and Hengist and Horsa were given the Isle of Thanet to live on.
The ships condition was faithfully observed with the only instrument being a sextant, the crew of 53 had only one professional seaman a man named Peter Jenson, who was a navigator. The Hugin was offered as a gift to Ramsgate and Broadstairs by The Daily Mail in order to be preserved for centuries, the ship underwent extensive restoration in 2004.
The one thing they brought with them Hengist and Horsa was their standard which in time became the flag of England.
Their standard was a captured Roman Cavalry Standard which was liken to a windsock, being about 10ft/3m long, coloured red, on this was a white wyvern, the sock was attached to a brass head which looked like a dragon with an open mouth, the head was attached to a flag-staff which was hand held, as the cavalry rode especially at speed the wind gave a sound as it passed through the mouth.
This was the Flag of England carried by the English army at the Battle of Senlac Ridge/Hastings in 1066, as seen on the Bayeux Tapestry.
The Wessex flag represents the Flag of England which has red background with a golden wyvern in the centre, the alternative one is a red flag with a white dragon in the centre, both represent the flag of the Englisc/English, the flag of England, not the St. George`s flag which was introduced several centuries after the battle of Senlac Ridge/Hastings.
REFRESHMENTS 7 TOILETS
There is a snack kiosk and toilets at the site, open during the summer months, generally between April – October, if there is inclement weather it is liable to be closed and with this the whole field as grass the gates will be closed.
There is a car-park at the Hugin site, open during the summer months, which is then closed off as site is grass and Hugin covered over during the closed period.
Bus route No 88 Stagecoach. Monday – Saturday, No Sunday service.
Westwood bus station, Ramsgate, Cliffsend, Sandwich & Dover.
Nearest station Ramsgate.
This is on the Charing Cross line from London.
PEGWELL BAY COUNTRY PARK
Sandwich road, Ramsgate, Kent, CT12 – 5JB.
This is just down the road from the Hugin,
Open all the year round from 09.00hrs till dusk or 21.00hrs whichever is earlier.
There is a charged car-park with toilets.
Week-end/Bank Holidays £2.00p
There is a picnic area in which you can barbecue there.
ST. AUGUSTINE`S CROSS
Cottington road, Cliffsend, Nr Ramsgate, Kent, CT12-5LD.
This cross is west of Cliffsend lying just off the road next to St. Augustine`s Golf Club, being erected in 1884 to commemorate
his arrival in 597 A.D. , who would become known as St. Augustine.
It is believed this is the place where Augustine met king AEthelberht of Kent on the Isle of Thanet with 40 monks, after contact met the King, who was sitting under an Oak tree, but otherwise out in the open so nothing could be hidden, being a pagan this is how he would wish and on the Isle. This meeting was very important for the church of Rome, who saw the Celtic church which had been well established in Britain during the Roman occupation, as a serious threat to itself, with the passing of Columba in Iona just before this, the church saw this as an opportunity to counter the Celtic church and hence the mission, Queen Bertha was herself a Christian and no doubt she was the key for the church to be welcomed here with they mission.
The cross was erected in 1884 by Granville Leveston-Gower 2nd Earl Granville, Secretary of State for foriegn affairs and Lord warden of the Cinque ports. he inspired with a tradition of an Oak tree known as Augustine`s Oak, which had been felled within living memory as was a place reputed to have been the place of the meeting being King AEthelberht and Augustine.
the cross was carvedby John Rudds of Birmingham obtaining the stone from a quarry in Doulting, this stone was also used to build Glastonbury Abbey. the cross is based on the Saxon/Celtic Sandbach cross up in Cheshire, which itself was erected in the 8th to 9th century, it is a tapered shaft 12ft / 3.7m high and topped with a Celtic cross, the four sides are carved with many different aspects of religious depictions.
`KENT – INVICTA AND WHITE HORSE MONUMENT.
St. Paul and St. Peter church, Swanscombe, Kent. DA10-
No matter where you find yourself in Kent you will come across the county`s insignia – the white horse and Invicta motto.
The stories behind these two ancient symbols of Kent are very intriguing and shrouded in legend.
The white horse is said to trace it`s history back to the fifth century A.D., when Jutish who came from what is Jutland part of Denmark, coming over at the invitation of the Vertigern who was the high king of the British at the time, he wanted to employ them like what the Romans did when they were in Britain as ancillaries, the leaders of these mercenaries were two brothers called Hengist and Horsa (Stallion and Horse) the Germanic people took the horse in great esteem and this emblem was used regularly like on eaves of houses, the brothers emblem was therefore a white horse on a red background of their flag.
Vortigern wanted Hengist and Horsa with their warriors to aid him to fight against the Picts of Caledonia, the Irish Scots and Anglo-Saxon pirates, other kings were not happy with his decision and unfortunately they were to proved right latter, but Vertigern wanted to carry on like the Romans who they emulated and to carry on as before the Romans left Britain not long previously 410 A.D., the Jutes proved themselves as successful warriors in battle and were given the Isle of Thanet which at that time had a mile wide channel separating it from the mainland of Kent.
In time, however, their success in battle they became more ambitious and during a banquet they murdered their host and so forced Vortigern to succeed to them the Kingdom of Kent, proving the fears of the other kings well founded.
The Invicta Legend came about after the Battle of Senlac Ridge in 1066 when the English army was defeated by the Normans who renamed the place as Battle.
The Kentish men and the men of Kent were not willing top loose their ancient rights and traditions so in 1067 close to the village of Swanscombe they met the Duke of Normandy and his men, they were lead by the Archbishop of Canterbury Stigand and the abbot of St. Augustine`s Egelsine.
Each Kentishman carried a bough giving the appearance of a moving wood, rapidly descending upon the Normans, and at a given signal, dropped the boughs revealing the force ready to do battle with the Normans.
However, the Churchmen and the duke came to terms with each other, they would give allegiance to the duke if he was willing to grant certain privileges to the people of Kent and to respect their ancient rights and traditions.
With what the duke was faced with and what would happen if battle commenced and the aftermath, he agreed to these demands and so Invicta became the motto of Kent, Invicta means undefeated or unconquered.
The monument was erected in the churchyard of St. Peter & St. Paul church, Swanscombe in 1958.
There follows the inscription which is on the monument.
NEAR THIS SPOT IN THE YEAR OF 1067 BY ANCIENT TRADITION THE MEN OF KENT AND KENTISH MEN CARRYING BOUGHS ON THEIR SHOULDERS AND SWORDS IN THEIR HANDS, MET THE INVADER WILLIAM DUKE OF NORMANDY. THEY OFFERED PEACE IF HE WOULD GRANT HTEIR ANCIENT RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES OTHRWISE WAR AND THAT MOST DEADLY. THEIR REQUEST WAS GRANTED AND FROM THAT DAY. THE MOTTO OF KENT HAS BEEN INVICTA MEANING UNCONQUERED.
The church itself was originally built around the 1050s, the south wall of the tower is all that remains.
LULLINGSTONE ROMAN VILLA.
Lullingstone lane, Eynsford, Kent, DA4-0JA.
owned and managed by English Heritage.
This has been put in as it involves Christianity in the Roman Empire although it here well before this period when the house-church was built.
Perhaps even more remarkable, however, were the changes above the deep room involving the creation of a house-church. The wall-paintings from this room set the villa apart, as they are the only known paintings in Roman Britain that contains clear Christian symbolism.
The material from the house-church was found collapsed into the cult room below it. The excavators found many thousands of fragments of painted wall plaster which, when painstakingly pieced together, revealed the images that once adorned the walls.
Although the surviving elements of the scenes depicted are fragmentory, enough remains to suggest that a large Chi-Rho- an early Christian symbol formed by the first two letters of Christ`s name in Greek. Chi (X) and Rho (P) was painted on the south wall. (Constantine saw a vision of this in the sky before the battle of Milvian Bridge and had his soldiers paint this symbol on their shields, with victory, later on becoming Emperor ordered the toleration of Christians in the Empire and convened a synod at Nicene (Nicene Creed) and trying to bring peace within the Church with its different views on Christ`s message, it partly achieved this aim). Six near-life size standing figures with their hands raised in the attitude of earl Christian prayer – the Orantes position, still used by priests when saying mass and by modern evangelical Christians – were represented on the west wall. A further Chi – Rho appeared on the east wall, and on the north wall there were more figures, as well as pictures of buildings.
The house-church had a Narthex or anti-chamber, which was possibly used by those who had not yet been formally admitted to the Church through baptism and who could not take part in the full mass. The painted wall plaster from the Narthex/ante-chamber provided clear links to the Church.
ADMISSION CHARGE. 2016
Adult £7 – 00p
Child £4 – 10p
Concession £6 – 20p
Family (2a – 3c) £16 – 10p
OPENING TIMES 20216
25th March – 30th September
Seven days a week – 10.00 – 18.00hrs
1st October – 31st October
Seven days a week – 10.00 – 17.00hrs
members are free, non-members. £2-50p located in the High Street, Eynsford, DA4-0AA (not managed by English Heritage).
There are usual facilities in a place like this, including light refreshments.
The Benedictine Nuns of St. Mildred`s Priory, Minster Abbey, Minster-in-Thanet, Kent, CT12-4HF.
Tel : 01843 821254
This is a St. Benedictine venerated Abbey, St. Benedictine took his monasticism from St. Anthony of Egypt, born in 251 of wealthy parents who decided in the 3rd Century to go into the desert of Egypt to be alone, what is known as an ascetic, he attracted some many people he in the end had to organize it as a monastery, but some remained alone but would still have contact with the world.
The Celtic Church was based on a monasticism, like the Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church of Egypt which fell from the Church, St. Anthony of Egypt became the Father of monasticism, whilst St. Benedict was born in 480, like St. Anthony to wealthy parents, it is claimed he is the Patriarch of Western monasticism but this had already been well established in the West by the Celtic Church taking their lead from St. Anthony of Egypt, St. Benedict organized his monasteries with his own Rule.
The same with Augustine who came to Kent in 597 prompted! by St Gregory the Great, seeing St. Columba in Iona was near death, he had challenged St. Gregory on many religious points and so was challenging the Bishop of Rome, here was time for Rome to bring its own authority through the door Queen Bertha presented, herself a Christian, being the wife of the King of Kent.
The Bishop of Rome/Patriarch from early on was very slowly breaking from the Orthodox Church of which it was apart of, as it was and still is the established Church, established under the Emperor Constantine whose efforts of bringing the church together in the early 4th Century, starting at Nicaea with the First Ecumenical Council 5-6/325 A. D.
St. Bendictine Rule has been handed down through 16 centuries and is still followed by hundreds of monastic communities throughout the world, being born in about 480 in Norcia, Italy, following the example of St. Anthony seeking the inner call to seek God in solitude at Subiaco, like St. Anthony he was soon joined by others and it is said that twelve monasteries were founded on the hills of Subiaco under his leadership, very similar to the monastic community on Mount Athos in Greece which started to be established they reckon in the early 4th Century, possibly 324-337 A. D., being known as the Autonomous Monastic State of the holy Mountain, St. Benedict later established the famous monastery of Monte Cassino in Italy, sadly destroyed by allied bombing during the conquest of Italy in the later part of the last war.
St. Benedict`s Rule is centred on the Gospel and neighour. The monk is to prefer nothing to the Love of Christ, singing in praises of God and serving Christ is present in the poor, the suffering and the members of the community, in living according to the inspiration of St. Benedict Rule, we are given an insight into his wisdom, holiness and fatherly care, Benedict died in 547 A. D., His feast is celebrated on 21st March. He took his last breath as he stood, supported by two of his brethren, with raised arms to heaven in prayer.
THE FOUNDATION OF MINSTER ABBEY
THE EARLY ABBESSES
Ermenburga being a great-granddaughter of King AEthelbert of Kent, came to the Isle of Thanet in the mid 7th Century from Mercia, she being the wife of the king of this kingdom. Two of her younger brothers had been murdered as a result of a political dispute at the court of their cousin Egbert, King of Kent. Instead of claiming the customary blood money or `Wergild` for the murder of her brothers, Ermenburga asked the repentant king for the land on which she could build a house of prayer. The King readily agreed.
According to an ancient legend, Ermenburga sent her tame deer on a free course, and the path the deer took established the boundaries of the monastic lands, because of this the deer has become the symbol of the Minster, and the early abbesses of Minster are often pictured with a deer. St. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, consecrated the new monastery in 670 dedicating it to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This was after the Synod of Whitby, 664, where King Oswy of Northumbria was persuaded to follow the new way of the Church of Rome, under the insistence of Wilfred and so in time the death knell of the Celtic Church. The Celtic Church had kept Faith with practices that had been laid out over two previous centuries and now found itself at odds with Rome who had changed certain practices in that time, the Anglo-Saxon invasion had caused the Celtic Church to carry on in isolation the Christian Faith whilst most of Europe was under change by this including Rome, now they found that they were at odds for doing so.
One of these changes was no more double monasteries/abbeys where monks and nuns worked together but seperately under an abbess, which could include a bishop who served the Divine Services, as seen with Minster is was women of a high standing.
With Theodore`s consecration who was one of the most important archbishops of the Church of England ever had, forming the Parishes and organization that we have today, with his soul friend Hadrian of Africa, Canterbury became a beacon of knowledge under their guidance throughout Europe.
Ermenburga, now known as Domneva; became the first Abbess. The nuns lived a life dedicated primarily to the praise of God in the celebration of the Liturgy, gathering in the monastery Church seven times a day for Divine Office and rising for the prayer of Vigils during the night. The monastery also became a center of learning in East Kent, with its own scriptorium to copy texts of the Holy Scriptures and the Church Fathers. The community would also have had the care of pilgrims and other travellers and a hospice for the sick.
The first monastery was constructed on the site of the present church of St. Mary the Virgin in Minster, on the southern shores of the Isle of Thanet. It had a natural harbour leading into the Wantsum Channel, which cut the island off from mainland Kent. The River Stour is all that remains of this today. Gradually a village community grew up around the monastery and Minster developing into a port and toll-station for the shipping route to London. Different charters of this time make it evident that the monastery built and owned ships, perhaps to convey grain from the fertile land to the London corn markets.
Abbess Domneva died around the year 690 A.D. She was soon venerated as a saint (19th November). Her daughter, Mildred, who had entered her mother`s community shortly after its foundation, was consecrated Abbess by St. Theodore of Canterbury. Mildred, whose name means `peaceful counsel`, led her community with wisdom and love for more than 30 years. She was renowned during her lifetime as a peacemaker and was especially close to the poor, Mildred died about 725. Soon after her death people started coming in pilgrimage to her tomb. Miracles of healing were reported and the veneration of St. Mildred spread throughout Southern England and across Europe. Her feast day is kept on 13th July.
Edburga was the third Abbess of minster. The community had grown greatly, and a new monastery was built in 741, a short distance away, on the site of the present Minster Abbey. The monastic buildings were probably constructed of wood and wattle like most Saxon buildings, but the monastic church was built of stone. It was dedicated to SS Peter and Paul by Cuthbert Archbishop of Canterbury. Edburga had the relics of St. Mildred brought from St. Mary`s Church and re-interred behind the altar of the new church. From Abbess Edburga`s correspondence with St. Boniface we learn that the nuns of minster encouraged his missionary work in Germany and assisted him by sending gifts of manuscripts. Several of the Anglo-Saxon/Englisc missionaries, who set sail for the continent did so from Minster. St. Lioba (originally from Wimborne Abbey in Dorset), who became a co-worker with St. Boniface, refers to her “dearest mistress Edburga” in her letters, Edburga died in 751 and was buried in the monastic church she had built at Minster. She, too, is venerated as a saint. Her feast is kept on 12th December.
THE VIKING INVASION
During the time of the 4th Abbess Sigeburg, the Vikings/Danes began to raid the South-East of England. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the Isle of Thanet was repeatedly attacked and plundered. The first invasion was recorded in 753, and Viking raids were to continue to plague the country for more than two centuries. Several times the community of nuns and the villagers crossed the Wantsum to take refuge in the fortified city of Canterbury – to return and rebuild Minster when the immediate danger had passed. However, when Canterbury fell to the invading Danes at the end of the 10th Century the traces of the Minster community of nuns were finally lost and the monastery lands lay deserted.
THE FIRST RE-FOUNDATION OF MINSTER
Barely a generation later in 1027, the monks of St. Augustine`s Abbey in Canterbury petitioned the Danish King Canute (1017-1035), now King of England, to grant the property in Thanet to the monks with his permission, they built a small grange or courthouse on the site as a residence for those who were to administer the estate; the name Minster Court dates from this time. Realizing the tomb of St. Mildred was already a centre for prayer and pilgrimage, they gained permission from the king to transfer St. Mildred`s relics to their own monastery church in Canterbury, this caused outrage at the site as in a way they were stealing the relics for their own profit, knowing full well how they would gain financially with all the people who would come to visit the shrine they had built for the relics of St. Mildred, which was placed behind the high altar, near those of SS Augustine, Theodore and Hadrian. For centuries her tomb was a focus for pilgrimage. Goscelin, the chronicler of St. Augustine`s Abbey in Canterbury, writing in 1097 enthusiastically describes St. Mildred as “the fairest lilly of the English), the one jewel of our father`s” and adds, “Who is there who is blind or deaf or dumb, or ailing from whatever cause in mind or body, who has failed to obtain relief through her intercession?”
Following the Norman Conquest the buildings of Minster were extended. The monastery Church of SS Peter and Paul was rebuilt, as was the old church of St. Mary the Virgin which now served as the Parish Church. From Minster the monks took on the pastoral care of the people of Thanet, over the next few decades a further eight churches were built on the island.
A listing in the Doomsday Book of 1088 shows that with the grange at Minster, the abbots of St. Augustine held great tracts of arable land on Thanet. In the 12th Century a vast tithe barn, was erected near the fish ponds for the collection of the grain grown on monastic lands. The monastery also had two salt-works on the marshes. During the 13th Century the `Abbot`s Dyke` was constructed to prevent flooding of arable land.
This carried on for 500 years, until the arrival of the Reformation and the dissolution of the Church under King Henry VIII, the estates went to the crown and the buildings were either pulled down for the stones to be reused or left into decay, in the ensuing centuries the lands changed hands several times, until in 1928 when the Manor House and 10 acres were sold to Mr & Mrs Senior, who had an archaeological investigation and found out what they had actually bought an old monastery. Minster Manor was refurbished to be purchased in 25th March 1937 by the Benedictine nuns of St. Walburga`s Abbey, Eichstaff, Bavaria and re-founded a monastic community, later the relics of St. Mildred were returned and in 1996 St. Mildred`s Priory became an independent monastery.
Monday – Friday :- 14.45 – 16.00hrs.
1st May too 30th September
Saturday :- 11.00 – 12.00hrs
throughout the year.
Tours can also be arranged by appointment please
telephone St. Benedict on 01843 821254
There is a small shop selling cards, some hand-craft items, books and religious articles.
there are toilets which also cater for the disabled.
PLACES TO EAT
There are plenty of places in which you can find to eat, which cover various tastes.
Parking is available on Bedlam Court Lane, entrance to the Abbey.
No 11 – Canterbury – Minster – Westwood, Margate.
Mon – Fri :- 5-6 journeys during the day.
Sat :- 4-5 journeys during the day.
Sun no service.
No 42 – Monkton – Minster – Cliffsend – Ramsgate – Westwood, Margate.
Mon – Fri :- 7 journeys during the day.
Sat :- 5 journeys during the day.
Sun no service
Line from Charing Cross, hourly service.
Their is a station at Minster which is about a five minute walk from the Abbey.