The Holy Family Group, Thanet will visit the 7th century Minster Abbey on 2nd December
Please contact Rosemary Traynor if you would like to join our group for the day.
Minster Abbey is at the heart of the village of Minster. It was at Ebbsfleet, a few miles from Minster that St. Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory the Great, landed in 597 to begin his mission to the Anglo-Saxon people. Within a few years of his arrival on the shores of Thanet, Christianity had spread throughout southern England, and monastic life began to flourish. Minster Abbey was one of the earliest monastic foundations. Minster was a royal foundation; its foundress and first abbess was Ermenburga or Domneva, a great-granddaughter of King Ethelbert of Kent. Two of her younger brothers had been murdered as a result of a political dispute at the court of their cousin Egbert, King of Kent. Instead of claiming the customary blood money or ‘wergild’ for the murder of her brothers, Domneva asked the repentant King for land on which she could build a house of prayer. The name Minster is derived from the first “mynster” or monasterium/ monastery built on the site of the Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin by Domneva in 670 AD. Her daughter Mildred became the second Abbess. She was one of the best loved Anglo-Saxon Saints and patron of Thanet. Edburga was the third Abbess of Minster. During her time a monastic church, dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, was built on the present site of the Abbey. The monastery was repeatedly attacked and eventually destroyed during Viking raids of the 9th and 10th Centuries. Excavations in the late 1930’s uncovered the foundations of these buildings. The history of the foundation of Minster Abbey is well documented in the old chronicles, and supported by several charters of the Kings of Kent. In 1027 the property was given to the Abbey of St Augustine Abbey in Canterbury and the monastery was rebuilt. Its oldest section, the Saxon Wing, with a small chapel is still in use by the present community. The monks soon resumed the life of prayer, and rebuilt the monastery church as well as the parish church, which became known as the Cathedral of the marshes. For many years, the monk of Minster Abbey served as priests in parishes of Thanet. Together with their tenants they farmed the land; the grain collected as tithes was collected in the great twelfth century barn at Minster. An East grange was built to accommodate guests and those on pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury. The south wing of the Abbey was added within a 100 years of the Norman Conquest in 1066. “The Norman Wing” also remains standing and Minster Abbey is thus considered to be possibly the oldest inhabited house in the country. The Abbey was home to the monks for over 500 years. At the time of the reformation when the monks were forced to leave, it passed into private hands.
In 1937, the Benedictine community of St. Walburga in Bavaria re-established Monastic Life at Minster Abbey. Once again, the Abbey became a place of prayer and dedication to God.