Community ID
Alternate Names
Helnestow, Helenstou, Helenstow
St. Helen and the Holy Cross
Date Founded
Date Terminated
946 or later
Foundation Information

An excerpt from the Historia de primis Fundatoribus Abendeniae that is excerpted in Dugdale lists Cissa, sister of Heana abbot of the monks at Abingdon, as the founder of the monastery for nuns. It is supposed to have been located near Tamisian at a place called Helnestou. After the death of Cissa, the nuns were to be transferred to Witteham. On the way there, because of the war between king Offa of Mercia and Kenewulf of the West Saxons, the nuns were dispersed (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 511).

Notable Heads

Cissa or Cilla, apparently the sister of Heana, was the founder and apparently the only abbess (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 511).

Notable Members/Residents/Guests

Aelfhild, kinswoman of King Edmund, and two religious women, Eadwulfu and Saethryth, received grants from King Edmund and may have been part of the community at Abingdon.


The cross of Saint Helen was transferred to the monastery of monks at Abingdon after the dispersal of the nuns (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 512).

Manuscript Sources

Historia de primus Fundatoribus Abendoniae -- Bibl. Cottoniana
Registrus de Abbendon -- Bibl. Cottoniana -- Claudii B. VI fol. 5b, cap. 11 and fol. 6a

Miscellaneous Information

Foot argues against Meyer and Halpin, stating that one should not assume that the granting of these three charters necessarily means that there was a women's house at Abingdon in the tenth century (see secondary sources above as well as Veiled Women, 18-20 and 18 n. 1 and 5, 19 n. 1 and 2).

Admin. Notes

I wonder if there is an error in Foot's text, or perhaps I misunderstood. She refers to land in Berkshire, but when she mentions specific charters, she states that the land is in Oxfordshire. A perusal of the charters themselves might be in order.

Date Started
Date Finished