Barking Abbey

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The ruined remains of Barking Abbey are situated in Barking in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham in east London, England, and now form a public open space.


Dedicated at first to Saint Mary, and later to Saints Mary and Ethelburga, Barking Abbey was founded by Saint Erkenwald, Bishop of London, for his sister Saint Ethelburga in 666, as a missionary centre. All Hallows Barking, at Tower Hill, was founded by the abbey in 675.

One of the great early works of Anglo-Latin scholarship, the De Laude Virginitatis ("In Praise of Virginity"), a double (prose and verse) work in the complex Latin style taught at the Canterbury School of Adrian of Canterbury praising Christian martyrdom and spiritual virginity, was dedicated by its author Saint Aldhelm (d. 709) to the ladies of Barking.

Bede recorded the foundation. The abbey was destroyed by the Vikings in 870, and 100 years later was re-established as a Royal foundation.

As overseer of the abbey, Queen Ælfthryth deposed the abbess Wulfida after complaints made by the nuns, but she reinstated her twenty years later.

William the Conqueror spent his first New Year after the Norman Conquest in 1066 at the abbey. Archbishop Dunstan made Barking Abbey a strict Benedictine nunnery.

In November 1539 the abbey was dissolved by order of Henry VIII. After that, the site was used as a quarry and a farm. A modern ward of the present borough is named Abbey after the...
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