Ely
Community ID
 
832
 
Town
 
Ely
 
Diocese
 
Ely
 
Region
 
Cambridge
 
Modern Location
 
Ely
 
Corporate Status
 
Abbey
 
Date Founded
 
672-3 (needs verification)
 
Date Terminated
 
870
 
Religious Order
 
Benedictine
 
Foundation Information
 

First founded by Danes and refounded as male monastery that was a Benedictine cathedral priory in the 10th century. According to Foot, Aethelthryth, wife of Ecgfrith of Northumbria founded Ely and appointed herself abbess. Aethelthryth or Etheldreda (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 457) preserved her virginity during her marriage to Ecfrith/Egfrid, king of Northumbria and he allowed her to retire to Coldingham. When he tried to force her to leave Coldingham and return to his court, she fled to the isle of Ely and founded a monastery there.

 
First Members
 

The queen Edelthryd served as abbess (d. 679) and was followed by her sister Sexburga (d. 699).

 
Notable Heads
 

Aethelthryth may have been the first abbess.
She was followed as abbess by Sexburga, her sister and queen of Kent. Ermenilda, the queen of Mercia followed her. Werberga followed Ermenilda, adding Ely to the other communities she had charge of (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 457, 470).

 
Notable Members/Residents/Guests
 

In the 11th century, Aethelswith lived on an estate, Coveney ,possibly as a vowess, that was promised to the abbey. Two other women, Aethelflaed and Wulfflaed, may also have been vowesses at Ely. Both made land donations to Ely on becoming nonnae but it is not clear where they became nonnae.

 
Miscellaneous Information
 

Between 866 and 872, the minster was said to have been burned and the nuns slaughtered (Veiled Women, vol. 1, 72). Edgar refounded the monastery as one for men in 970 (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 458). Sarah Foot suggests that there may have been women vowesses living at the margins of the male monastery in the 10th through 12th centuries.

 
Admin. Notes
 

[V0102]

 
Contributors
 
Bruce Venarde; Marilyn Dunn
 
Date Started
 
672
 
Date Finished
 
870 or later
 
Length
 
281