Abingdon
Community ID
 
2779
 
Alternate Names
 
Helnestow, Helenstou, Helenstow
 
Dedication
 
St. Helen and the Holy Cross
 
Date Founded
 
939-940
 
Date Terminated
 
946 or later
 
Foundation Information
 

An excerpt from the Historia de primis Fundatoribus Abendeniae that is excerpted in Dugdale lists Cissa, sister of Heana abbot of the monks at Abingdon, as the founder of the monastery for nuns. It is supposed to have been located near Tamisian at a place called Helnestou. After the death of Cissa, the nuns were to be transferred to Witteham. On the way there, because of the war between king Offa of Mercia and Kenewulf of the West Saxons, the nuns were dispersed (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 511).

 
Notable Heads
 

Cissa or Cilla, apparently the sister of Heana, was the founder and apparently the only abbess (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 511).

 
Notable Members/Residents/Guests
 

Aelfhild, kinswoman of King Edmund, and two religious women, Eadwulfu and Saethryth, received grants from King Edmund and may have been part of the community at Abingdon.

 
Relics
 

The cross of Saint Helen was transferred to the monastery of monks at Abingdon after the dispersal of the nuns (Dugdale's Monasticon Volume 1, 512).

 
Manuscript Sources
 

Historia de primus Fundatoribus Abendoniae -- Bibl. Cottoniana
Registrus de Abbendon -- Bibl. Cottoniana -- Claudii B. VI fol. 5b, cap. 11 and fol. 6a

 
Miscellaneous Information
 

Foot argues against Meyer and Halpin, stating that one should not assume that the granting of these three charters necessarily means that there was a women's house at Abingdon in the tenth century (see secondary sources above as well as Veiled Women, 18-20 and 18 n. 1 and 5, 19 n. 1 and 2).

 
Admin. Notes
 

I wonder if there is an error in Foot's text, or perhaps I misunderstood. She refers to land in Berkshire, but when she mentions specific charters, she states that the land is in Oxfordshire. A perusal of the charters themselves might be in order.

 
Date Started
 
939
 
Date Finished
 
946