S. Sexburga
Community ID
Alternate Names
Minster, Minster in Sheppey, St. Seaxburg
Canterbury or Sheppey
Medieval Location
later site Sheppey , by nuns from Newington , 1087.
Modern Location
Corporate Status
Sexburga, S. Mary
Date Founded
670-75; refounded in 1130?
Date Terminated
1066 or before, probably as early as 890
Religious Order
Foundation Information

The original community had been established by a royal widow circa 670, possibly Seaxburg, the widow of Eorcenberht of Kent, and was probably destroyed by the Danes before 1066. Nuns from Newington who moved to Sheppey about 1087 rebuilt and refounded the community. Dugdale states that William the Conqueror forced the nuns of Newington to move into the ruins of Sheppey because they had strangled their prioress. The nuns lived among the ruins until Archbishop William de Corbeil rebuilt the monastery and replinished it with nuns (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 2, 49-52). S. Thompson lists the probable refounder as Archbishop William de Corbeil ( circa 1130 (See Sheppey for more information the refoundation).

First Members

Seaxburg and her daughter Eormenhild were said to be among the earliest members.

Notable Heads

Ermenilda dowager of a Merican king succeeded Seaxburga as abbess.
The last prioress was Alicia Crane. On November 20th in the 28th year of Henry VIII's reign she surrendered the monastery and was pensioned at 14 l. for life. The manor of the priory was granted to Sir Thomas Cheney at this time (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 2, 50-51).

Dependency Of

The early minster was said to be subject to the archbishop Canterbury in the time of Archbishop Wulfred (805-832) (Veiled Women, Vol. 2, 121).

Social Characteristics

According to S. Thompson, the community was a double monastery (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 54).


Robert, abbot of St. Augustine gave certain tithes to Agnes, prioress of S. Sexburga in 1186 and 1188: the Church of Middleton in Bobing parish that produced 10 shillings worth of rent and the tithes of Westlonde which produced 14 shillings worth of income. There was a condition placed on the tithes of the MIddleton church. The "housekeepers" of the land belonging to the church were obligated to go to the chruch without any men on feast days (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 2, 49-51).

Architecture & Archaeology

The north and south walls of the 7th century church's nave still remain (See Veiled Women, vol. 2, 122, n. 7; see also Anglo-Saxon Architecture, vol. 1, 429-430).

Miscellaneous Information

Foot notes that there is no evidence to suggest a connection between St. Seaxburg's foundation and Sheppey other than location. St. Seaxburg's had been dissolved long before the foundation of Sheppey.

Admin. Notes

There were several references to Sandwich in this record, but neither Foot nor Thompson seems to mention the connection. As a result I removed those connections. At some point this reference to Sandwich should be checked.

WRL Project
Date Started
Date Finished