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A brief history of Wimborne Minster

13 October 2020

Wimborne Minster

The Wimborne Minster, referred to locally as the Minster is Wimborne’s parish church and has served the residents of Wimborne for over 1,300 years, in our latest blog, we look at the fascinating history of the Minster.

The site that the Minster stands on today started life as a Benedictine abbey of nuns founded by Saint Cuthburga in c.705. Around the same time, a monastery for men was built adjacent to the abbey and over the next hundred years both the abbey and the monastery grew in stature.

In 871 King Ethelred I of Wessex, Alfred the Great’s elder brother was laid to rest at the Minster. Alfred was succeeded by his son Edward the Elder and Ethelred’s son rebelled against this and made an attempt to claim the throne. During his attempt to overthrow Edward, he seized a nun at Wimborne and made a stand there – with historians believing this was due to the symbolic importance as his father’s resting place.

In 1013 the women’s monastery was destroyed during an attack by the Danes and was not rebuilt, although the main abbey building survived the attack. Thirty years later, Edward the Confessor founded a college of secular canons at the Minster, leading to its remodelling by the Normans between 1120 and 1180.

During the reign of Henry VIII, the additional and remaining parts of the monastery were adopted into the minster to stop them from being destroyed, however, Henry VIII did confiscate much of the minster’s wealth.

Following Charles I beheading during the English Civil War, his coat of arms was painted out from the wall of the minster, but on the restoration of Charles II they were quickly replaced and restored.

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