Community ID
Alternate Names
S. Edith
Medieval Location
Originally at Polesworth, Trenstall in the Forest of Arden. Egbert came there with S. Lyne & S. Osyth . Moved to Oldbury after 1066. North Coventry toward Leiceistershire, at Polesworth, on the bank of the Anker.
Modern Location
Corporate Status
Date Founded
Date Terminated
1539, January 3
Religious Order
Original order unknown. In 1130 Benedictine according to Elkins and acording to Oliva in 1135.
Foundation Information

The community has been traditionally thought to be founded by Egbert, son of King Edgar, d. 839, and his son Arnullph of Ettenwolf. According to S. Thompson, the community was refounded in the 12th century. She states that the community of Polesworth resided at Oldbury circa 1129 - 1144 and then moved to Polesworth circa 1138-1144. She also lists the founders as: Walter de Hastings and Hawise, his wife, as well as Robert de Marmion II and Millicent his wife (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 227). However, S. Foot contends that this 12th century move from Oldbury was the original foundation, noting that the attempts to date the foundation to an earlier time were based on a desire to explain the community's dedication to St. Edith (Veiled Women, vol. 2 139-142).

Notable Heads

Edith, (appears during the reign of Egbert)
Osanna, (appears during the reign of Henry I)
Muriel, appears during the reign of John)
Cicely, elected 1234
Margaret de Appleby, elected 1237 and died 1269
Sara/Sarra de Mancestre, elected 1269 and died 1276
Albreda de Canvill, elected 1277, also appears 1285
Katherine de Appleby, elected 1291 and died 1301
Erneberga de Herdeshull, elected 1301 and died 1322
Maud de Pipe, elected 1322
Letitia de Hexstall, elected 1348 and died 1349
NULL , elected 1349 and died 1362
Maud Botetourt, elected 1362 and resigned 1400
Katherine de Wyrley, elected 1400 and died 1414
Benedicta Pryde, elected 1414 and died 1469
Margaret Ruskyn, elected 1469
Elizabeth Bradfield, elected 1501 and died 1505
Elizabeth Fitzherbert, elected 1505 and died 1513
NULL, elected 1513 and surrendered in 1539 see Anchorites and Their Patrons in Medieval England, 217.

Notable Members/Residents/Guests

Katherine Boyden, earlier around 1310, prioress of Henwood a Benedictine community, and Benedicta Burton, anchoress. In 925 the community included Sister Ethelstan, the repudiated wife of Sithrick, King of Northumbria. By 1456 there were many lay men and women. In 1536 there were 38 dependents in the community.

Population Counts

In June 1536 there were 14 nuns with the abbess and anchoress, and in July 1536 the convent consisted of the abbbess and 12 nuns (Medieval Religious Houses in England and Wales, 217).

Priveleges & Papal Exemptions

The community received an exemption in 1399, but this needs further verification.

Dependent Communities

The community relocated to Oldbury when exiled in 1066 by Robert Marmion. After the community returns to Polesworth around 1130, Oldbury remained a dependency until its termination in 1539. Foot raises questions about the involvement of Robert Marmion (See Veiled Women, vol. 2, 141).


There was an ecclesiastical visitation in 1352 and in 1456. Issues included lay residents and election irreguarities. The Archbishop of Canterbury appointed an Abbess in 1414.


Robert Marmion, William of Hastings, Robert Marmion & his wife Millicent and their son, Robert Fitzwalter and his wife Amabill, his sister Alice, William Savage and Picot Archer, William d'Hardreshull, Ralph Lord Basset, and Robert d' Grendo, Alice of Harcourt, Erneburga, Edelina, Cicely d'Limsie, Margaret Banaster, Isabel d'Sumervile. Benefactors; William d'Hardreshull, Ralph Lord Basset, Robert d' Grendon.

Secular Political Affiliations

There was litigation in both ecclesiastic and lay courts with the Rector Eyton over payments to the community in 1327.


The community had land holdings, mills, a chapter house, and also owned doves and cottages. They exercised market, fair, and court rights in Polesworth. In 1536 the community was valued at more than 230 pounds. It was in good repair, owned equipment, bells, woods, and paid debts when due.


Income derived from rents and tithes. The community had about 50 pounds in 1291 and about 87 pounds in 1535.


Educated Polesworth children, distributed alms on Maundy Thursday, and dispensed bread at the community gate weekly.


There was litigation in both ecclesiastic and lay courts with the Rector Eyton over payments to the community in 1327.

Art & Artifacts

Among the remains of the community is a seal in the shape of a pointed oval with the Abbess, perhaps Edith, in a long cloak with a staff.

Manuscript Sources

British Library Landsdowne MS 447, fos. 28-29.

Published Primary Sources
Miscellaneous Information

Architectural evidence suggests that an anchorage may have been attached to the church in the 13th century and still have been used in the 15th century (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 30n).

Admin. Notes

Mad 6/10/97

Marilyn Oliva
Contributors Notes

The community received an indulgence from the Bishop of Herfordshire. Elkins--rule 1130; Oliva--in the age of Stephen 1135-54.

Date Started
Date Finished