Copyright Kent Past 2010
The History of Kent
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History of Minster in Sheppey
Minster comes from the Old English 'mynster' meaning a ‘monastery, the church of
In about 670AD the widowed Kentish queen, Seaxburh of Ely, built the monastery, on land given by her son of Kent, to establish a Benedictine nunnery at Minster, one of the first in Kent. In 835AD, the Danes overran Sheppey making it their base camp. They remained there until the Norman Conquest.
The Abbey Church is a Grade I listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary and Saint Seaxburh. In 855, the Danes burnt the original 7th century church to the ground. Following the Norman invasion of 1066, King William the Conqueror partly rebuilt the Minster church and priory and allowed nuns from to take up residence. It remained impoverished until Archbishop de Corbeuil rebuilt it between 1123 and 1139. He is credited with the unusual arrangement of two adjacent 'churches' with the northern church for the nuns and the southern for the parishioners. It is thought curtains originally hung to cover the arches separating the two churches. The stone for the Norman part of the Minster church came from Caen using the same quarry that provided the stone for .
In 1603, William Hatch cast and hung a ring of five bells. In 1798, Edward Hasted described the Minster church as consisting of ‘two isles and two chancels. The steeple is at the west end, being a large square tower, with a turret at the top, in which there is a clock, and a ring of five bells. It was formerly higher than it is at present, as appears by the remains. There was formerly a building adjoining to the east end of the north chancel, as appears by a doorcase and some ornaments on the outside of it’. By 1879, the whole church had reached a ruinous condition, which Ewan Christian restored in 1881. Mears and Stainbank added a treble to make six, in 1929. On 23 March 1929, the Dean of Canterbury rededicated the bells.