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History of Minster-in-Thanet

Minster comes from the Old English ‘mynster’ meaning a ‘monastery, the church of a monastery’. The Domesday Book chronicles Minster as Tanet.

It is said that King Egbert of Kent arranged the death of his nephews, whom his councillor Thunor said ‘are plotting to take your throne’. When they discovered the deceased’s bodies behind the king’s throne, he agreed to give their sister Ermenburga as much land as her pet hind could cover in a day. King Egbert subsequently founded a nunnery on the land, with Ermenburga as Abbess. She took the name Eva, becoming known as Domna Eva. The minster eventually gave its name to the parish, the largest on the Island.

The Danes burnt the original building to the ground in the ninth century, with the death of 70 nuns and townspeople. In 1027, the monks of St Augustine’s Abbey, in Canterbury rebuilt the Abbey. Further building extensions followed the Norman Conquest. After the reformation, it passed into private hands until 1937 when a group of Benedictine sisters took it over as a daughter priory to Eichstadt, Bavaria.

Minster parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, and dates to the early Saxon period. The Normans built a tower together with a chancel - 37 feet long and 22 feet wide – in the 11th century. From simple beginnings, it grew over the next 400 years with additions and extensions. With the church being placed on the edge of the river Wantsum estuary, the churchyard wall acted as a sea defence at high tides. In 1561, William Oldfield cast and hung a bell in the tower. Joseph Hatch added another bell in 1626 and a treble and tenor ten years later. Thomas Palmer completed the ring of five in 1660. In 1800, Edward Hasted described St Mary’s church as a ‘very handsome structure, consisting of a nave and two side isles, a cross sept, and east chancel; the nave is of Saxon, the transept and chancel of gothic architecture; the last is curiously vaulted with stone, and provision was made for the same in the transept, but it was never completed. In it are eighteen collegiate stalis, in good preservation. At the west end of the church is a tall spire steeple, in which is a clock and five bells’. In 1863, the Victorian architect Ewan Christian carried out a restoration of the Minster church. The spire blew down in the strong winds of 1987, although rebuilt in the following year…. more

Minster railway station opened on the South Eastern Railway’s Canterbury to Margate section of the Ashford to Margate branch line, on 1 December 1846. Minster became a junction with the opening of the line to Deal on 1 July 1847…. more