Minster Abbey was founded by the Mercian queen Ermenburga in the 7th century, and according to legend, the boundaries were set by the wanderings of her pet deer – which then became the symbol for the church. St Mildred, the second abbess, became a focus for pilgrimages to the site, and the abbey thrived until the Dissolution. The Norman buildings later served as a manor house, but in 1937 nuns from Eichstatt in Germany established a new Benedictine community here. The international flavour continues today, with nuns representing some eight countries from around the world. Visitors are welcome to the abbey chapel, and to view the historic buildings and gardens on guided tours.
Facilities – at a glance
Assist dogs allowed
- Parking onsite
- Parking nearby
- Fully accessible
- Facilities: Induction loop, ramp, disabled parking space
- Accessible toilets
- Open all year
- Opening Times: Chapel open all year, daily 5.30am–8.45pm; guided tours of historic abbey buildings May–Sep, Mon–Fri 2.45–3.45, Sat 11–12pm, and by arrangement
Also in the Area
About The area
The White Cliffs of Dover are an English icon – the epitome of our island heritage and sense of nationhood. They also mark the point where the Kent Downs AONB, that great arc of chalk downland stretching from the Surrey Hills and sometimes known as ‘the Garden of England’, finally reaches the sea. This is a well-ordered and settled landscape, where chalk and greensand escarpments look down into the wooded Weald to the south.
Many historic parklands, including Knole Park and Sir Winston Churchill’s red-brick former home at Chartwell, are also worth visiting. Attractive settlements such as Charing, site of Archbishop Cranmer’s Tudor palace, and Chilham, with its magnificent half-timbered buildings and 17th-century castle built on a Norman site, can be found on the Pilgrim’s Way, the traditional route for Canterbury-bound pilgrims in the Middle Ages.
In the nature reserves, such as the traditionally coppiced woodlands of Denge Wood and Earley Wood, and the ancient fine chalk woodland of Yockletts Bank high on the North Downs near Ashford, it is still possible to experience the atmosphere of wilderness that must have been felt by the earliest travellers along this ancient ridgeway.
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