Essex, England, a Benedictine nunnery dedicated to Our Lady and St. Ethelburga, was founded by St. ercon wald, Bishop of London, c. 677; his sister ethelburga was its first abbess. It was burnt by the Danes in 870 and restored by King edgar. The abbey numbered among its abbesses St. hildelide (d. 717?), to whom aldhelm addressed his De virginitate, and Mary, the sister of Thomas becket. The shrine of St. Ethelburga was a center of pilgrimage in medieval England. Tradition says that william i resided at Barking after his coronation until the Tower of London was built. Dame Dorothy Barley surrendered the house to Henry VIII, Nov. 14, 1539. Of this once magnificent abbey, nothing now remains.
Bibliography: w. dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum (London 1655–73); best ed. by j. caley et al., 6 v. (1817–30) 1:435–446. j. b. l. tolhurst, ed., The Ordinale and Customary of the Benedictine Nuns of Barking Abbey, 2 v. (Henry Bradshaw Society 65,66; London 1927–28). l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 1935–39) 1:266. d. knowles and r. n. hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales (New York 1953) 210.