Minster in Thanet
Community ID
 
963
 
Alternate Names
 
Thanet; Minster; St. Mildrith's, St. Mildred's
 
Region
 
Kent
 
Medieval Location
 
Thanet
 
Modern Location
 
Minster inside Thanet
 
Corporate Status
 
Abbey
 
Dedication
 
St. Mildrith/Mildred
 
Date Founded
 
669-90
 
Date Terminated
 
1011
 
Religious Order
 
Benedictine
 
Rule
 
Benedictine
 
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.

 
Litigations
 

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
 

[V0841]

 
Contributors
 
WRL Project
 
Date Started
 
669
 
Date Finished
 
1011
 
Length
 
335