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Folkestone Abbey

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Folkestone Abbey -- more correctly FOLKESTONE PRIORY -- is situated in the east division of Kent about thirty-seven miles from Maidstone. It was originally a monastery of Benedictine nuns founded in 630 by St. Eanswith or Eanswide, daughter of Eadbald, King of Kent, who was the son of St. Ethelbert, the first Christian king among the English. It was dedicated to St. Peter. Like many other similar foundations it was destroyed by the Danes. In 1095 another monastery for Benedictine monks was erected on the same site by Nigel de Mundeville, Lord of Folkestone. This was an alien priory, a cell belong to the Abbey of Lonley or Lolley in Normandy, dedicated to St. Mary and St. Eanswith, whose relics were deposited in the church. The cliff on which the monastery was built was gradually undermined by the sea, and William de Abrincis in 1137 gave the monks a new site, that of the present church of Folkestone. The conventional buildings were erected between the church and the sea coast. Being an alien priory it was occasionally seized by the king, when England was at war with France, but after a time it was made denizen and independent of the mother-house in Normandy and thus escaped the fate which befell most of the alien priories in the reign of Henry V. It continued to the time of the dissolution and was surrendered to the king on 15 Nov., 1535. The names of twelve priors are known, the last being Thomas Barrett or Bassett. The net income at the dissolution was about £50. It was bestowed by Henry VIII on Edmund, Lord Clinton and Saye; the present owner is Lord Radnor. The only part of the monastic buildings remaining is a Norman doorway, but the foundations may be traced for a considerable distance.

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