Wareham (female)
Community ID
Medieval Location
Between the Frome and the Tarrant rivers
Modern Location
Corporate Status
St. Mary?
Date Founded
672 (circa)
Date Terminated
Destroyed by Danes in 876, may have been a community of nuns until 982.
Religious Order
Unknown; Benedictine after 1135.
Notable Heads

Abbess Wulfwyn, who may have had connection to the West Saxon Royal house, died in 982.

Dependency Of

Wareham was one of five communities (Wareham, Shaftesbury, Southhampton, Horton, Wilton) given to Wulfhild after King Edgar failed to seduce her and returned her to Barking. Wareham may have remained a dependent of Horton.

Secular Political Affiliations

Wareham seems to have had some connection to the West Saxon royal house. It was apparently the burial place of one king, Boerthtric. Barbara Yorke suggests that this connection to Boerthric may have been a factor in the communities lack of success (See Veiled Women, vol. 2, 201 and n 1). Wulfwyn, abbess in the last half of the 9th century, was related to Aethelweard who claimed descent from the West Saxon royal house (Veiled Women, 198).

Architecture & Archaeology

A cemetery with burial inscriptions that may be dated as between the 7th and 10th centuries provide evidence that there was at least a church, possibly two, at Wareham in the Anglo-Saxon period. Foot notes that one should not assume this indicates a congregation of women was present (The Wareham Inscriptions and The Inscribed Stones in Lady St Mary Church, Wareham). Textual evidence for Wareham as a burial place that probably had a congregation can be found in the description of the burial of Beorhtric in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle (Veiled Women, vol. 2, 200-201).

State Of Medieval Structure

At present a hotel sits on the site of the medieval foundation and only the gardens of the later male foundation remain.


Edward the Martyr's body may have rested at Wareham for a short time, perhaps as little as five days, in 802 before its translation to Shaftesbury.

Manuscript Sources

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Manuscripts A, C, D, E,

Miscellaneous Information

The first mention of a women's religious community at Wareham may be found in Asser's life of King Alfred, together with the Annals of Saint Neots erroneously ascribed to Asser when Asser describes the Danish occupation of a fortified site at Wareham that housed a congregation of women religious. While the congregation was dispersed at this time, 876, it was not necessarily destroyed. Foot ascribes the accounts of its destruction as coming only from non-medieval sources (SeeVeiled Women, vol. 2, 199, n 1). If it was destroyed it was apparently rebuilt since reference is made to an abbess of Wareham in 982. The community may have been a priory instead of an abbey (needs verification).

Between 1100-1135 the community was changed into a Benedictine community for men (Venarde). Knowles lists this as a male Benedictine monastery only founded by Henry I in 1515 with an almshouse for poor men and women.

Admin. Notes

Medieval location--DATES? MAKE SENSE?
Where is this information from?
Do we need the information about the male community listed above?

Bruce Venarde; Marilyn Dunn
Contributors Notes

This community needs further verification.

Date Started
Date Finished