Wherwell
Community ID
 
941
 
Town
 
Winchester
 
Diocese
 
Winchester
 
Region
 
Hampshire
 
Modern Location
 
Wherwell
 
Corporate Status
 
Abbey
 
Dedication
 
Holy Cross and S. Peter
 
Date Founded
 
986
 
Date Terminated
 
1539
 
Religious Order
 
Benedictine
 
Rule
 
Benedictine
 
Foundation Information
 

At the time of the foundation, canons were attached to the community. After 1342 there were only priests. According to the tradition related by William of Malmesbury, Aelfthryth founded the abbey as penance for her involvement in the murder of Edward the Martyr (De gestis pontificum Anglorum libri quinque, 78, 87) or in the murder of her first husband (Veiled Women, vol. 1, 4, and vol. 2, 217 and n. 3). A petition on the part of the abbey to the king puts forward a different founder: Alfred son of Osgar/Ordgar, ealdorman of Devon.

 
Notable Heads
 

A daughter of King Aethelred was abbess of Wherwell in 1051. She received the charge of Edith, repudiated wife of the king. Two abbesses, Matilda and Albereda, were thought to have been Norman.

 
Notable Members/Residents/Guests
 

Queen Edith temporarily retired here in 1048. In the mid 10th century, Queen Emma is reported to have resided at Wherwell before she underwent trial by ordeal and proved her innocence (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 194 note m, 207).

 
Population Counts
 

Before 1186 there were reportedly 40 nuns, but by 1257 there were 80 nuns. In 1539 the abbess and 24 nuns were granted pensions.

 
Patrons/Benefactors
 

King Aethelred granted privileges and land to Wherwell.

 
Secular Political Affiliations
 

The West Saxon Royal House maintained close contacts with Wherwell through the 10th and 11th centuries.

 
Relative Wealth
 

Wherwell was the second poorest nunnery recorded in the Domesday book.

 
Assets/Property
 

The Domesday book records Wherwell as holding 57 hides of land in Hampshire, 31 dwellings in Winchester, a fishery, and land in Southhampton.

 
Income
 

According to the Domesday book, the net income of the community was 52 Pounds, 4 shillings, and no pence. The community did not owe a quota of knights. In 1535 the net income of the community was over 339 pounds.

 
Early Documents
 

Wherwell Cartulary, London, British Library, MS. Egerton 2104a

 
Miscellaneous Information
 

Foot notes that, depending on the foundation story that is referenced, the foundation date of Wherwell could have been as early as 960 (Veiled Women, vol. 2, 216-218). It has been argued that women were housed at Wherwell for a full generation before the official foundation by Aelfthryth as part of her penance (Veiled Women, vol. 1, 4).

 
Admin. Notes
 

[V0932]

 
Contributors
 
WRL Project
 
Date Started
 
986
 
Date Finished
 
1539
 
Length
 
778