Minster in Thanet
Community ID
Alternate Names
Thanet; Minster; St. Mildrith's, St. Mildred's
Medieval Location
Modern Location
Minster inside Thanet
Corporate Status
St. Mildrith/Mildred
Date Founded
Date Terminated
Religious Order
Foundation Information

Legend attributes the foundation of this community to Aebbe, also called Domneva, and Ermenburga, the daughter of Eormenred of Kent, and granddaughter of King Ethelberht and Queen Bertha of Kent. The land was donated by King Egbert of Kent to compensate for the murder of Aebbe's brothers, Ethelred and Ethelbert. It was destroyed twice by Danes. The nuns left in 1011, and the abbey and Mildrith's relics were granted to the male monastery of S. Augustine, Canterbury by King Cnut. It was rebuilt after 1027.

First Members

Aebbe and her daughter Mildrith were said to be among the first members, along with 70 consecrated virgins.

Notable Heads

S. Edburga (d. 759) who corresponded with S. Boniface (NULL).
Sigeburga or Sigeburtha was abbess at the time of one attack by the Danes.
Siledritha or Selethryth, also abbess of Lyminge
Cwoenthryth may have briefly reestablished independence from Lyminge
Leofrima was abbess when the nuns were burnt in their minster (either 987 or 1014) and she alone survived (See Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 448).

Population Counts

At its inception the abbey supposedly housed over 70 nuns. Currently, there are 10 nuns living at the abbey.

Dependency Of

Siledritha or Selethryth, also abbess of Lyminge, led the community of Thanet to refuge within the walls of Canterbury during a Viking attack. The abbey apparently became independent from Lyminge again under Abbess Cwoenthryth. By 825, the community was under the control of Archbishop Wulfred of Canterbury. Dugdale implies that Minister in Thanet was in the control of the Augustinian canons of Canterbury in 1022 (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 121).

Other Economic Activities

In the 760's, the fourth abbess Segeburh was granted remission of a toll due on the Minster's ships.


Abbess Selethryth was named in a dispute over land between the archbishop of Canterbury and Thanet (See Cartularium saxonicum: a collection of charters relating to Anglo-Saxon history, 378 (S 1434)).

Art & Artifacts

Anglo-Saxon fabric that may have belonged to the church of St. Mildrith's in Canterbury and before that to the community at Thanet.

Architecture & Archaeology

A church dedicated to St. Mildrith's was located in the south-west corner of the city of Canterbury beside the city walls. Dugdale refers to this as a destroyed monastery. Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 6 Part 3
Destroyed Monastery of St. Mildred, Canterbury

State Of Medieval Structure

The abbey was refounded in 1937 and there is currently a community of 13 Benedictine nuns living at the site. The ancient buildings are in ruins but are in relatively good condition. The saxon tower and west wing of the abbey, which included the kitchen, novice quarters and the sisters living quarters, and the Marian chapel are all currently undergoing restoration. Pictures and info are available on the abbey's website ">http://www.minsterabbeynuns.org/index.html"> [Minster Abbey]


In 1027, after the monastery had been dissolved, Cnut, according to a rather spurious document, gave the body of Saint Mildred to the Augustinian monks at Canterbury (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 448). However, this was much disputed by the monks at St. Gregory's, Canterbury, who claimed that they had taken ownership of the relics during the reign of Archbishop Lanfranc. In response, Goscelin of Canterbury wrote a treatise confirming St. Augustine's possession of the relics. A Hagiographic Polemic Sometime during the dissolution of the monasteries Mildrith's relics were supposedly taken to Deventer, Holland for safekeeping. In 1953, a small relic was granted to the Minster.

Manuscript Sources

"Charta Cnuti regis, decorporibus Saint Mildredae, cum totae terrae suae, in abbatiam S. Augustini Cantuarie translatione" in Annales S. Augustini Cantuar in bib. Cottoniana, Julii D.2. Cart. Antiq. 1.10.

Miscellaneous Information

Shouldn't be confused with Thanington, a hospital founded in 1164. Foot notes that after 826, no clear reference to a women's commmunity is made. Reference has been made to individual women but it has not been convincingly shown that they have a connection to Thanet. See Veiled Women, vol. 2, 128-130, for discussion of the problems surrounding the termination date for Thanet.

Manuscripts Produced

"Charta Cnuti regis, decorporibus Saint Mildredae, cum totae terrae suae, in abbatiam S. Augustini Cantuarie translatione"

Admin. Notes


WRL Project
Date Started
Date Finished