Anglo- Saxon Nuns and Nonington by Peter Hobbs

Peter Hobbs is the present owner of the old St. Alban’s Court manor house in Nonington.  Peter has published numerous articles concerning the extensive, and still ongoing,  archaeological investigations he has undertaken over the past twenty or more years  in and around the old St. Alban’s Court manor house and on the nearby site of  the now gone Esole, also Easole, manor house.

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Nonington is a rural parish in East Kent about two miles East of the A2 and broadly equidistant from Canterbury, Dover and Sandwich. Formerly some 4000 acres in extent, the mining village of Aylesham and the site of Snowdown Colliery were removed in 1951 to form a separate parish. The underlying natural geology is chalk of the Seaford Formation overlain by a thick deposit of brickearth. The land is woodland or corn growing and some pasture and other than the diminution of woodland, seems to have been so for centuries. Hasted[i] described it as “fine, open champaign country, exceedingly dry and healthy….”

Quite a lot is known about the parish area of Nonington in Anglo-Saxon times both from Anglo-Saxon charters and from the Domesday Book, William the Conqueror’s incredibly detailed land ownership record. Here, we focus on Anglo-Saxon Oeswalum, an estate of no more and probably less than about 1200 acres, quite small by the standards of the time.  All authorities [ii] link it to Easole, one of the three hamlets that now make up the parish of Nonington, and therefore it perhaps covered an area roughly from near Chillenden in the East to Butter Street/ Nightingale Lane to the West and bounded approximately to the North by what is now Church Lane, Pinners Lane and Beauchamps Lane but then following near  or to the North of the ancient roadway[iii] that used to go in front of the 19thC St Albans Court now Beechgrove, and was bounded to the South by the road along the top of St Albans Down . Clive Webb[iv] on the other hand believes Oeswalum lies broadly to the North West of the old road as far as the Wingham – Barham road , a pre- Roman ridgeway[v], still  covering much the same extent but encompassing Womenswold and as far as Chillenden to the North East. There are plans for the Dover Archaeological Group and Clive Webb to walk the area to see if there are still any natural landmarks but until that happens, as a general indicator, this note on the basis of philology will assume the former definition which means that we are writing about an area where, by the early 1000s, the original estate had become two. Broadly, one became the St Albans Court estate (Eswalt) formerly belonging to the Abbey of St Albans and then to the Hammond family, and the other the Fredville Estate (Eswelle ) now belonging to the Plumptre family.  The alternative would take in Womenswold, Ackholt and North and South Nonington,

Maps relevant to this article can be seen here 

Oeswalum was the subject of two court cases in the 820s[vi] between the daughter of Coenwulf King of Mercia and Kent and Wulfred, Archbishop of Canterbury from 805 to 832. She lost and apparently agreed to give up substantial lands and rents and this estate, and he made sure the records were written afterwards so that nobody could doubt how just the decisions were to put right the great wrong that he maintained had been done to him by her father.

We need to go back at least thirty years to understand what was happening. Oeswalum was then owned by Ealdberht and Selethryth, brother and sister[vii]. The brother was one of Offa of Mercia’s top thegns ( barons, nobles) and his sister had been appointed Abbess of no less than two major but possibly run down royal monastic sites, Minster in Thanet and Lyminge, both  of which needed some reformation.  This was clearly a political appointment, not a sinecure, and given the significance of women both in Mercia and later Wessex in those times[viii], one must assume not a figurehead but an able and important woman.

Offa King of Mercia (broadly the Midlands then and the largest and most important of the kingdoms within the British Isles) was in the process of regaining control of Kent having defeated the Kentish forces in battle. Offa and his successor Coenwulf seem to have retained their supremacy in Kent not by soldiers on the ground but by the proxy use of trusted supporters[ix]. This brother and sister were part of Offa’s plans to exercise influence and regain control over his new territory and in particular with Selethryth, to boost royal monastic revenues. Selethryth’s name may be West Saxon in origin or even Mercian but the speculation is that she and her brother were perhaps family members of one of the junior Kent kings who had thrown their lot in with Mercia and then remained loyal to that line [x]. Offa lavished land grants on them but it looks a though they already owned Oeswalum in their own right, possibly as a family inheritance.

These were brutal times: Offa took back Kent by force of arms and at his death, there was a rising put down by his successor Coenwulf who then ruled, initially via his brother Cuthred, until his own unexpected death in 820.  Another threat was the start of the Danish coastal raids  – Thanet had already been attacked and Lyminge was apparently threatened – as well as the menace of the Kingdom of Wessex, growing into the power which in turn would take over Mercia and Kent from 825.

Selethryth was the Abbess of both Lyminge and Minster, royal foundations with finances not in the control of the ecclesiastical authorities ( ie the Archbishop), and her job was to ensure that both establishments  were revived and organized to maximise income and support for the crown in their own right. Archbishop Aethelheardus by his support enabled her on this process whereas his successor Wulfred was wholly opposed.

Lyminge had been founded by Queen Aethelburh[xi], the daughter of King Aethelbert (who welcomed St Augustine) and was the wife of King Edwin of Northumbria who was killed in battle with the pagans. She then fled back to Kent and was set up in Lyminge by her brother. Lyminge appears at that time to have been the site of one of the Kent Kings’ palaces[xii] which was probably occupied once or twice a year as the King made his royal progress around his kingdom. Either within or alongside the complex, Aethelburh set up a monastic community. She was well regarded locally but of course was not a proper saint with a shrine who could attract a wider circle of donors. There is some evidence that the community was in decline in the mid 700s.[xiii] A factor might have been that unlike all the other known monastic institutions at that time in Kent, the nearest access to sea or a navigable waterway was some 7 miles away and then via the steep escarpment of the Downs.

Maps relevant to this article can be seen here 

In contrast, Minster, despite being vulnerable to Danish sea raids, was a successful trading monastery in the then separate Isle  of Thanet owning at least three ships in the 700s and with toll free access to various ports including London[xiv]. As part of it’s religious attractions, Minster not only had St Mildrith, a popular cult figure but also St Eadburh (successor to Mildreth as Abbess) who had a lesser but still significant reputation[xv]. One expression of royal authority and probably also a demonstration of episcopal authority by the Archbishop Aethelheardus, newly returned from Rome and restored to Canterbury in 803, was the agreement for Abbess Selethryth to capitalize on St Eadburgh by moving her relics to Lyminge (where indeed she became a good earner for that Abbey.) However, this was no theft in the night business as happened two centuries later when the monks of St Augustines’ in Canterbury were pursued by the local inhabitants as they took away the relics of St Mildreth from Minster.[xvi]. We know little if anything about Anglo-Saxon ceremonial  practices but we do know that saints produced pilgrims together with donations and Selethryth was a well favoured political appointee and as such carried a responsibility to enhance the reputation as well as the revenues of her royal masters. This move was both a marketing and a propaganda project , as much political as religious, so potential new customers would have been an important consideration as well as the avoidance of any mishap in the transfer which might have reflected on the competence of the regime or the religious power of the Archbishop.

On that basis, the Abbess would not have undertaken the exposed route by sea to Folkestone or Lympne and then by land, nor would she with her holy burden have crossed the Wantsum at Sarre. .Although this was the main route to Canterbury, that was too far North and would entail a much longer sea crossing probably to Wingham with consequent exposure to Danish attack and then on land through what seems from the findings record to be lightly occupied country along the ridgeway to Barham. Initially that route would also have taken her through settlements which if anything were the economic losers from the move. However, to go South[xvii] and then through Ebbsfleet, Richborough / Stonar would mean only a very short  exposed ferry crossing to the Sandwich area, and then to Woodnesborough, Eastry perhaps, and on to the security of her own estate at Oeswalum: then, after joining  the Roman Dover to Canterbury road via Womenswold or perhaps by the Barham ridgeway, on to Lyminge.  This could have taken in the congregations of the chapel at Richborough, the minster at Eastry and an area of relatively high occupation[xviii]. Either land route could if necessary have been covered easily in less than a couple of days but the latter allowed greater security and stops where there were significant settlements[1] and the relics could be displayed.  The Abbess herself would certainly have been aware of the added value to her own estate of having the holy relics stop there overnight – perhaps for even longer – to allow visitors from further afield. She after all was the boss of the entire process and could have set up a temporary shrine for pilgrims  – publicity was the key to future income from the faithful as well as allowing others to make a signal of their public support for the regime. We know there were at least two existing settlements on her estate because their burial grounds have been excavated[xix]. The resting place would not necessarily have been where Nonington church now is: although the church is probably an Anglo-Saxon foundation, not this early, and the site of the present church anyway we think was on the boundary of but not in Oeswalum itself [xx]( although Clive Webb disagrees). The route itself was probably the main and customary route for travellers between the two monasteries whilst under Selethryth’s aegis because of the security it offered with the relative density of the population, the Abbess’ own estate and the short sea crossing.

Maps relevant to this article can be seen here 

This visitation could begin to explain a conundrum: the importance which is attached to the estate of Oeswalum in the written records  of the period. For after the death of Selethryth, probably in 814, and then of her brother about 820, the deeds (landbok) for the land were taken by a kinsman and senior thegn Oswulf[xxi] and delivered to the daughter of King Coenwulf, Cwoenthryh, who had succeeded as Abbess at Minster[xxii] and was being prepared after the earlier murder of her brother to succeed her father on the throne. Archbishop Wulfred argued that he had been entitled to the estate because the abbess sister and her thegn brother had agreed that after their demise, it should be payment for a safe residence inside the walls of Canterbury for Selethyrth’s nuns (the monks had to look after themselves) from Lyminge in the event of a Danish raid. There is a deed to this effect [xxiii] dated 804 in which it is clear that St Eadburh was already enshrined at Lyminge and this had been carried out under Aethelheardus’ jurisdiction as was this deed as well. Archbishop Wulfred was installed in 805 and shortly afterwards Selethryth appears to have wrested back  various Minster revenues which even then would have not been in accord with his desire to restore all church revenues to his control. However, in 820 he was not politically strong enough to press his case because he has just had to make up with King Coenwulf after a monumental dispute[xxiv] in which he notably failed to secure support from the Pope or Charlemagne’s successor. Coenwuf later attributed some responsibility to Wulfred  for the murder of his son and heir Kenelm and to avoid banishment, Wulfred reluctantly paid a fine of the equivalent of about £1million today as well as handing over vast tracts of his substantial personal land holdings[xxv], all of which confirm that the controversy was about more than the allocation of church revenues by a reforming Archbishop which Wulfred later claimed..

However by 824, Coenwulf, unexpectedly, had died in the Welsh Marches; his daughter had been beaten to the crown by his brother who in turn was then ousted by a cousin. Politically Cwoenthryth was still important but now vulnerable and Wulfred with the support of the new King went to court to recover the rentals of Reculver and Minster, restitution of his lost estates, and of Oeswalum.  Cwoenthryth lost the case and committed to hand over, inter alia, Oeswalum but it seems she then endeavoured to hold onto it, offering other land instead[xxvi]. She may  have suceeded although the last mention we have of Oeswalum is in the will of Wulfred’s kinsman whom he had promoted to a senior position in the church[xxvii]. The priest-abbot Werhard stresses he is carrying out Wulfred’s wishes and that includes giving more charitable support to the poor residents of Oeswalum than to those in the archbishopric of Canterbury.

Clearly the King’s daughter, the Archbishop and then Werhard attached an importance to Oeswalum of which we now have no record. Was it because some religious event took place at Oeswalum during the presence there of the relics of St Eadburgh ? Without being cynical, it was in the clear interests of Abbess Selethryth and the King and Archbishop Aethelheardus that the saintliness of St Eadburgh should be bruited far and wide by whatever means. So was this the significance of Oeswalum ?  St Eadburgh was venerated then and nearly 300 years later, Lanfranc thought  her sufficiently important still to move her from Lyminge to his new foundation of St Gregory’s around 1085.[xxviii] But in later times she was forgotten, and in modern times also even by her church at Lyminge[xxix]. That, after the translation of the Saint, in 804 Selethryth had a charter to convey Oeswalum to Christchurch following the death of herself and her brother perhaps also reinforces the concept that it had a significance beyond just a movement of property capital.

Maps relevant to this article can be seen here 

But there may just be other faint echoes of events of those times. Oeswalum had been split into probably two estates by the 1000s. In 1070 we have the first appearance of Nunnyngitun as a name[xxx].  Dr F.W. Hardman, a respected scholar and knowledgeable philologist who worked closely with Gordon Ward, an able historian and linguist who died only in the 1970s, proposed with Ward an idea to the members of the Kent Archaeological Society during their 1936 86th Excursion which was to Nonington. In his papers, he left a fifty page first draft of an History of Early Nonington[xxxi] in which he devotes much time to translating all the Anglo Saxon records around these particular events. His belief was that Selethryth brought to Oeswalum not her nuns from Lyminge but those from Minster which was being devastated by Danish  raids[xxxii] and set them up there in some sort of settlement which Cwoenthryth then had no choice but to maintain[xxxiii]. By then, the Danish raids had made an establishment of nuns at Minster unsustainable and Oeswalum also had the advantage of not being on the direct attack route from Thanet to Canterbury.[xxxiv] Hardman argues that the site was called Bedesham in the Domesday Book meaning “the house of prayer, the prayed for home” and that Hasted correctly identified the estate with the later Beachams or Beauchamps (named probably from Sir John de Beauchamp who built himself a manor there in the 1340s).[xxxv] He deplores the Victoria County History for attributing the name to Betteshanger.  Interestingly, Paul Cullen agrees with him[xxxvi]. Hardman also translated Nunyngton as straightforwardly “the tun or homestead of the nuns” whereas all other authorities including Paul Cullen assert that it is equally straightforwardly the” homestead of Nunna.”[xxxvii] Since then Clive Webb has unearthed an earlier version as Nuningitun and points out that Paul Cullen and his fellow professionals did not know of the potential ecclesiastical presence. Hardman’s other thought was that it could be significant that Nonington Church was dedicated to St Mary as was Minster, Lyminge and the Abbey of Winchcombe[xxxviii], the place where Cwoenthryth’s murdered brother (later Saint) Kenelm was buried and she was the first abbess[xxxix]. Finally, he refers to the existing ruins at Nonington as a possible home for the nuns but the Dover Archaeological Group have now extensively excavated there and as yet found no evidence of any church or indeed of an Anglo Saxon presence of any kind[xl], although a burial site dating to this period lies within 0.5 kilometres to the North, the inhabitants of which demonstrate  elements of wealth and status[xli] and a further site  about 0.5 kilometres to the South has also just been excavated of a broadly similar date. The estate was clearly occupied and working..

Maps relevant to this article can be seen here 

There may be one further clue. Clive Webb points out that at Domesday, the estates comprising Eswalt and Esswelle are a pocket of Crown territory surrounded by Christchurch and archiepiscopal lands although the court cases ruled [xlii] that Oeswalum should be handed over to Wulfred. But we know Cwoenthryth did not do so immediately: perhaps she never did so and therefore, at her death, Oeswalum remained part of the Mercian patrimony and then continued as Crown land thereafter. Perhaps indeed there were nuns there, a relatively safe refuge in a dangerous sea of Danish incursions, sustained in part by the legend of St Eadburh and ministering to a wide area so thus deserving charitable support once Wulfred was near the end of his life?

That there was some folk history of nuns on the site is borne out by John Harris in his History of Kent in 1719 who makes a link between Beachams and a nunnery[xliii] as does the owner  of St Albans Court, William Hammond, talking to Boteler for Hasted in 1789[xliv]. Later accounts link a chapel there to the monks of St Albans Abbey who had been given the estate in 1096 but these are without substance[xlv].

It is far from impossible that some nuns were established on the site and that St Eadburgh did rest there en route to Lyminge. There is no material evidence so far for either event but both seem plausible. What do you think?

Maps relevant to this article can be seen here 

[i]E.Hasted: The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent

ed, ix (1797-1801) 251

[ii]Mawer; Wallenberg; Hardman; Ekberg; Cameron; Smith; Mills; Watts; and Cullen. All are absolute that the linguistic case that Oeswalum is the source of Easole, Esswell and Eswalt, and Witney for example and Brooks accept this unquestioningly. There is however considerable interest in the translation of Oeswalum as either a geographic feature or a pagan site.

[iii] Stuart Brookes: Walking with Anglo-Saxons: Landscapes of the Dead in Early Anglo-Saxon Kent, Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History 14, 2007. Economics and Social Change in Anglo-Saxon Kent AD 400-900, BAR British Series 431 2007 57 Fig 24. The importance of this very old route, still partly recognised as late as 1915 in the Invasion Evacuation Plan from the Sandwich area, has been forgotten in the succeeding century. The Anglo-Saxon route identified by Stuart Brookes is still distinguishable on the roads and tracks shown in the first !” to the mile Ordnance Survey map of 1801 leading from the Roman Dover to Canterbury road through Womenswold, Nonington and Chillenden. The road onto Lyminge  seems always to have been pretty much the line of the modern B2065.

[iv]  Clive Webb is the author of most of the information on the Old Parish of Nonington web site which includes detailed researched histories of the area which he knows intimately having always lived in Nonington. They include his rationale for the alternative location of Oeswalum.

[v] !.Margary: Notes on Roman Roads in East Kent. Arch Cant 61 (1948)129.

[vi] NP Brooks & SE Kelly ed: Charters of Christchurch Canterbury, Anglo-Saxon Charters ( British Academy ) 2O13.  1 . Charters 59 and 59A with critical appraisal and commentary. This comprehensive publication subsumes and scholarly evaluates most of earlier writing around all the Christchurch Charters.

[vii]  Ibid: 1. 403,469.

[viii]  P. Stafford: Political Women in Mercia Eighth to Early Tenth Centuries, 3/41, in Gender, family and the legitimization of power: England from the ninth to the early twelfth century (ed ) P Stafford, Ashgate 2006

[ix]  MP Brown & CA Farr: Mercia, an Anglo-Saxon Kingdom in Europe, Continuous Studies in Medieval History, Leicester University 2001.

[x]  Brooks & Kelly: 1. 31,403

[xi] R.Baldwin:  Antiquarians, Victorian Parsons and Re-Writing the Past. How Lyminge  Parish Church acquired an invented dedication. Arch Cant 138 (2017).

Brooks & Kelly: 1. 28-9;465.

[xii] G.Thomas: Life before the Minster: the Social Dynamics of Monastic Foundation at Anglo-Saxon Lyminge, Kent. Kent Antiquarian Journal 93 (2013) 69-145.

[xiii] Brooks & Kelly: 1. 31.

[xiv] Ibid: 1  465.

[xv]  R.Baldwin op cit; Brooks & Kelly: 1. 465. Eadburh was the only daughter of  King Centwine of Wessex and was Abbess from 733 until 751.She is credited with building a new church to house the shrine of St Mildrith  perhaps enabled by her negotiation of reduced tolls on trade with London and the purchase of an additional ship for the Abbey trading fleet. S.Leslie: Dictionary of National Biography Smith& Elder 1888. The attribution of her substantial correspondence with St Boniface and St Lullus seems now erroneous . Baldwin op cit.

[xvi]  A.Thacker The Making of a Local Saint, 45-73, in A.Thacker & R.Sharpe ( ed): Local Saints and Local Churches in the early Medieval West, Oxford 2002

[xvii] H.Clarke, S.Pearson, M.Mate and K.Parfitt: Sandwich the ’completist medieval town in England’ Oxbow 2010  13 .The difference in distance between the two routes is at most perhaps 3 km ( over a maximum of perhaps 34 km ) with the latter being the longer and almost entirely on land. Both routes could have used Oeswalum as a central staging point.

[xviii]Stuart Brookes: Economics and Social Change  100 Fig 51.

[xviii] The minster at Northbourne is also nearby so that there are three accessible congregations at least in the area.

[xix]  K.Parfitt:  Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Nonington, Kent Archaeological Review 147 (2002) 154 -159. Nonington and some other AngloSaxon  cemeteries                                                                                                                                 on the east Kent downs in I. Riddler, J. Soulat and L. Keys ( eds ) The Evidence of Material Culture; Studies in Honour of Professor Vera Evison,  Europe Medievale /1o. 2016;. Since this report, further burial grounds, so far unreported, have been excavated approximately 1.5 kilometres to the South of this site at Easole, and at Aylesham  about 2.5 kilometres to the West.

[xx]. That the nearest Christian burials of that period are not around the church but sited in groups elsewhere suggests that at that time there was no church there.

[xxi] J. Crick:   Church, Land and Local Nobility in Early C9th Kent: the case of Earldorman Oswulf. Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research LX1 146 Oct 1988. Brooks & Kelly 1. 13,403,583.

[xxii] Brooks & Kelly 1.  13,33.

[xxiii] Ibid: 1 . 32,,403,583.This seems anomalous when Minster would have been more at risk than Lyminge. But we know nothing of the detail of the Danish threat then other than it was clearly perceived to be very real. The charter is witnessed by Coenwulf, his brother Cuthred and Archbishop Aethelheardus so was no lightweight decision. See also Note 33 below.

[xxiv] R. North: Revenue and Real Estate: Archbishop Wulfred and the Strange Case of Cynhelm; J.Roberts & L.Webster ( Ed ) Anglo-Saxon traces, Essays in AngloSaxon Studies 4, Medieval and Renaissance Texts & Studies 405, University of Tempe, Arizona 2011.

[xxv]  Brooks & Kelly: 1.13.

[xxvi] Ibid: !. 583, 602-3.

[xxvii] Ibid: 1. 584, 629.

[xxviii]   R.Baldwin op cit;  Brooks & Kelly: 1. 465.

[xxix]  R. Baldwin op cit.

[xxx] Clive Webb op cit.

[xxxi]  P.Hobbs: Dr Hardman and the Ghostly Nun, KAS Newsletter 97 Summer 2013 4-5.

[xxxii]  Whatever the impact of the Danes, the rentals and income from Minster were worth wresting from Wulfred by Selethryth about 805 and then for Wulfred to go to court to retrieve them  from Cwoenthryth in 820.

[xxxiii] F.W.Hardman; An History of early Nonington. Written on the backs of paper from various sources, full of corrections and additions, the historical account includes translations of all the Anglo-Saxon charters concerned with the events under scrutiny as well as detailed linguistic identifications of Oeswalum with Esswelle and Eswale,  of Bedesham and of Nonington.

[xxxiv] Recorded big Danish raids in 842 and 851 but smaller and earlier exploratory  forays must have occurred.

[xxxv] Lyminge disappears from the record after 844 and Minster by 857. S.Brooks and S.Harrington: The Kingdom and People of Kent AD 400-1066 History Press 2010 121

[xxxvi] Pers com.

[xxxvii] There is a West Saxon King Nunna in the 600s.

[xxxviii]  But so were Sandwich  and Reculver from earlier dates.

[xxxix] R.Baldwin op cit; Brooks & Kelly 1. 446; E.S.Hartland The legend of St Kenelm,  13-65, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society  39 (1916) . Cwoenthryth’s  later vilification seems to have been propagated as the result of much later medieval monkish politics although Wulfred might not have demurred.

[xl]  Ongoing excavations by the Dover Archaeological Group from 2010. An observer’s account is on the Nonington Village Web site.

[xli] K. Parfitt op cit.

[xlii] Brooks & Kelly: 1 Charter 59A.

[xliii]  J.Harris : The History of Kent In Five Parts  1719. Under Nonington.

[xliv] Boteler to Hasted 7 Sept 1789 Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U11/433/289.

[xlv] D.Knowles and R.N.Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses, England and Wales,  2nd ed  Harlow, 1971. P.Hobbs, Old St Albans Court, Nonington, Arch. Cant.125 (2005) 285.

[1]E.Hasted: The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent

ed, ix (1797-1801) 251

[1]Mawer; Wallenberg; Hardman; Ekberg; Cameron; Smith; Mills; Watts; and Cullen. All are absolute that the linguistic case that Oeswalum is the source of Easole, Esswell and Eswalt, and Witney for example and Brooks accept this unquestioningly. There is however considerable interest in the translation of Oeswalum as either a geographic feature or a pagan site.

[1] Stuart Brookes: Walking with Anglo-Saxons: Landscapes of the Dead in Early Anglo-Saxon Kent, Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History 14, 2007. Economics and Social Change in Anglo-Saxon Kent AD 400-900, BAR British Series 431 2007 57 Fig 24. The importance of this very old route, still partly recognised as late as 1915 in the Invasion Evacuation Plan from the Sandwich area, has been forgotten in the succeeding century. The Anglo-Saxon route identified by Stuart Brookes is still distinguishable on the roads and tracks shown in the first !” to the mile Ordnance Survey map of 1801 leading from the Roman Dover to Canterbury road through Womenswold, Nonington and Chillenden. The road onto Lyminge  seems always to have been pretty much the line of the modern B2065.

[1]  Clive Webb is the author of most of the information on the Nonington Village  web site which includes detailed researched histories of the area which he knows intimately having always lived in Nonington. They include his rationale for the alternative location of Oeswalum.

[1] !.Margary: Notes on Roman Roads in East Kent. Arch Cant 61 (1948)129.

[1] NP Brooks & SE Kelly ed: Charters of Christchurch Canterbury, Anglo-Saxon Charters ( British Academy ) 2O13.  1 . Charters 59 and 59A with critical appraisal and commentary. This comprehensive publication subsumes and scholarly evaluates most of earlier writing around all the Christchurch Charters.

[1]  Ibid: 1. 403,469.

[1]  P. Stafford: Political Women in Mercia Eighth to Early Tenth Centuries, 3/41, in Gender, family and the legitimization of power: England from the ninth to the early twelfth century (ed ) P Stafford, Ashgate 2006

[1]  MP Brown & CA Farr: Mercia, an Anglo-Saxon Kingdom in Europe, Continuous Studies in Medieval History, Leicester University 2001.

[1]  Brooks & Kelly: 1. 31,403

[1] R.Baldwin:  Antiquarians, Victorian Parsons and Re-Writing the Past. How Lyminge  Parish Church acquired an invented dedication. Arch Cant 138 (2017).

Brooks & Kelly: 1. 28-9;465.

[1] G.Thomas: Life before the Minster: the Social Dynamics of Monastic Foundation at Anglo-Saxon Lyminge, Kent. Kent Antiquarian Journal 93 (2013) 69-145.

[1] Brooks & Kelly: 1. 31.

[1] Ibid: 1  465.

[1]  R.Baldwin op cit; Brooks & Kelly: 1. 465. Eadburh was the only daughter of  King Centwine of Wessex and was Abbess from 733 until 751.She is credited with building a new church to house the shrine of St Mildrith  perhaps enabled by her negotiation of reduced tolls on trade with London and the purchase of an additional ship for the Abbey trading fleet. S.Leslie: Dictionary of National Biography Smith& Elder 1888. The attribution of her substantial correspondence with St Boniface and St Lullus seems now erroneous . Baldwin op cit.

[1]  A.Thacker The Making of a Local Saint, 45-73, in A.Thacker & R.Sharpe ( ed): Local Saints and Local Churches in the early Medieval West, Oxford 2002

[1] H.Clarke, S.Pearson, M.Mate and K.Parfitt: Sandwich the ’completist medieval town in England’ Oxbow 2010  13 .The difference in distance between the two routes is at most perhaps 3 km ( over a maximum of perhaps 34 km ) with the latter being the longer and almost entirely on land. Both routes could have used Oeswalum as a central staging point.

[1]Stuart Brookes: Economics and Social Change  100 Fig 51.

[1] The minster at Northbourne is also nearby so that there are three accessible congregations at least in the area.

[1]  K.Parfitt:  Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Nonington, Kent Archaeological Review 147 (2002) 154 -159. Nonington and some other AngloSaxon  cemeteries                                                                                                                                 on the east Kent downs in I. Riddler, J. Soulat and L. Keys ( eds ) The Evidence of Material Culture; Studies in Honour of Professor Vera Evison,  Europe Medievale /1o. 2016;. Since this report, further burial grounds, so far unreported, have been excavated approximately 1.5 kilometres to the South of this site at Easole, and at Aylesham  about 2.5 kilometres to the West.

[1]. That the nearest Christian burials of that period are not around the church but sited in groups elsewhere suggests that at that time there was no church there.

[1] J. Crick:   Church, Land and Local Nobility in Early C9th Kent: the case of Earldorman Oswulf. Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research LX1 146 Oct 1988. Brooks & Kelly 1. 13,403,583.

[1] Brooks & Kelly 1.  13,33.

[1] Ibid: 1 . 32,,403,583.This seems anomalous when Minster would have been more at risk than Lyminge. But we know nothing of the detail of the Danish threat then other than it was clearly perceived to be very real. The charter is witnessed by Coenwulf, his brother Cuthred and Archbishop Aethelheardus so was no lightweight decision. See also Note 33 below.

[1] R. North: Revenue and Real Estate: Archbishop Wulfred and the Strange Case of Cynhelm; J.Roberts & L.Webster ( Ed ) Anglo-Saxon traces, Essays in AngloSaxon Studies 4, Medieval and Renaissance Texts & Studies 405, University of Tempe, Arizona 2011.

[1]  Brooks & Kelly: 1.13.

[1] Ibid: !. 583, 602-3.

[1] Ibid: 1. 584, 629.

[1]   R.Baldwin op cit;  Brooks & Kelly: 1. 465.

[1]  R. Baldwin op cit.

[1] Clive Webb op cit.

[1]  P.Hobbs: Dr Hardman and the Ghostly Nun, KAS Newsletter 97 Summer 2013 4-5.

[1]  Whatever the impact of the Danes, the rentals and income from Minster were worth wresting from Wulfred by Selethryth about 805 and then for Wulfred to go to court to retrieve them  from Cwoenthryth in 820.

[1] F.W.Hardman; An History of early Nonington. Written on the backs of paper from various sources, full of corrections and additions, the historical account includes translations of all the Anglo-Saxon charters concerned with the events under scrutiny as well as detailed linguistic identifications of Oeswalum with Esswelle and Eswale,  of Bedesham and of Nonington.

[1] Recorded big Danish raids in 842 and 851 but smaller and earlier exploratory  forays must have occurred.

[1] Lyminge disappears from the record after 844 and Minster by 857. S.Brooks and S.Harrington: The Kingdom and People of Kent AD 400-1066 History Press 2010 121

[1] Pers com.

[1] There is a West Saxon King Nunna in the 600s.

[1]  But so were Sandwich  and Reculver from earlier dates.

[1] R.Baldwin op cit; Brooks & Kelly 1. 446; E.S.Hartland The legend of St Kenelm,  13-65, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society  39 (1916) . Cwoenthryth’s  later vilification seems to have been propagated as the result of much later medieval monkish politics although Wulfred might not have demurred.

[1]  Ongoing excavations by the Dover Archaeological Group from 2010. An observer’s account is on the Nonington Village Web site.

[1] K. Parfitt op cit.

[1] Brooks & Kelly: 1 Charter 59A.

[1]  J.Harris : The History of Kent In Five Parts  1719. Under Nonington.

[1] Boteler to Hasted 7 Sept 1789 Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U11/433/289.

[1] D.Knowles and R.N.Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses, England and Wales,  2nd ed  Harlow, 1971. P.Hobbs, Old St Albans Court, Nonington, Arch. Cant.125 (2005) 285.

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