(d. c. 640)

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(d. c.640),

virgin. The daughter of Edbald, king of Kent and the granddaughter of Ethelbert, Eanswyth refused to marry a Northumbrian prince; instead she founded a nunnery at Folkestone, which she entered and where she died at an early age. It seems likely that she was trained in France and that hers was the first nunnery in England. This was destroyed in Viking raids and the church, but not the convent, was restored by King Athelstan. In 1095 a monastery of Black Benedictine monks was founded on the same site, but the cliff became unsafe and eventually fell into the sea. A new church was built for them in the early 12th century, which is substantially the present parish church of SS. Mary and Eanswythe. Here, according to N.L.A. and C.S.P., was the shrine of the saint. In 1885 a Saxon coffer was found in the north wall containing the bones of a young woman. It was assumed that these were the bones of Eanswyth, although there is no certain record of a genuine translation. Feast (in two 13th-century calendars and several medieval martyrologies): 31 August (St Augustine's, Canterbury and Durham) or 12 September. Eanswyth is depicted on the seals of Folkestone.

Stanton, pp. 429–32; B.L.S., viii. 331; A. Cockayne, Leechdoms (R.S.), iii. 422; N.L.A., i. 296–9.

Subjects: Christianity.

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