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FOLKESTONE PRIORY

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Nunnery and minster founded before 640. It was destroyed by the Danes before 927, at which time its revenues were transferred to Christ Church, Canterbury. Nigel de Muneville re-founded the priory as a Benedictine alien priory of Lonlay in 1095. In 1137, the site, which lay within the bailey of the Castle (TR23NW53) was abandoned, possibly because of erosion, but alternatively because Stephen wished to refortify the castle. The tradition that Folkestone, founded for Eanswith, daughter of Eadbald, was the first Kentish nunnery, is confirmed by the precedence of the abbesses in witnessing charters. The triangle lying seaward of the street called the Bayle, traditionally the site of St Eanswith's minster, was much disturbed in the later 18th century by the building of a fort. Leland in the 1540s noted a burial ground exposed here by coast erosion, and impressive ruins of ecclesiastical character which contained much Roman bonding tile and which he called 'a solemn old nunnery' Lambarde in 1826 reported much the same. Stukely saw pieces of old wall on the cliff edge, "seemingly of man work", and recorded the common occurence of Roman coins. The Domesday Monachorum records that the minster had 10 dependent churches circa 1080. This implies that the church was rebuilt before the alien priory was founded, and that the priory used the minster church as the priory church.

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