Mother Nikola and the sisters from Minster viewing the 7th Century church from the viewing platform
We were delighted to welcome Mother Nikola and the sisters from Minster Abbey to view our Anglo-Saxon church at Lyminge today. This was special because of the ancient connection between Minster-in-Thanet and Lyminge. At the end of the 8th Century, both Minster and Lyminge were under the rule of a single abbess, Selethryth, and this seems to have been the context in which the relics of St Eadburg, the third abbess at Minster, were translated from Minster to Lyminge. A shrine to St Eadburg was established at Lyminge and seems to have flourished into the 11th Century for a hagiography was commissioned in Canterbury around 1000. However, the evidence for an abbey at Lyminge peters out in the mid 9th Century and it seems likely that the community moved to Canterbury where a refuge, probably from Danish raiding, is known to have been given to them in 804. So the visit today by the nuns from Minster was possibly the first since the first half of the 9th Century, almost 1,200 years ago.
For the present day community at Minster Abbey, St Eadburg remains a real spiritual presence, so it was a great pleasure to show the sisters the church that almost certainly housed her relics for nearly 300 years up to the time when they were removed by Archbishop Lanfranc in 1085 and taken to Canterbury.
Embroidery in the chapel at Minster Abbey showing the first three abbesses, including St Eadburg on the right
Following completion of the archaeological excavation, the 7th Century church will soon be covered up as contractors will be returning to site to backfill the archaeology and install new paths. Readers of this blog may remember that when the church was first uncovered, we began an evensong service within the walls. Subject to the weather being fine, this will be repeated this coming Sunday. Evensong commences at 6pm. Everyone is welcome.