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Peterborough, Abbey of


Former benedictine monastery in the town of the same name, Northamptonshire, England. The original monastery, called Medehamstede, was founded c. 655 by King Peada of Mercia and by Saxulf, the first abbot. Destroyed by the normans in 870, it was restored c. 970 by ethelwold of winchester. It proved to be an important Anglo-Saxon monastery, especially under Abbot Leofric, who died in the year of the Norman Conquest, 1066. Peterborough continued to be one of the wealthiest and most important abbeys in Anglo-Norman England. The year after Abbot Arnulf of Beauvais was made bishop of Rochester in 1115, the abbey church burned. It was rebuilt in Norman style (with later emendations) and consecrated by robert grosseteste in 1237. benedict of peterborough, chronicler of becket and friend of King Richard I, the Lion-Heart, was abbot from 1177 to 1193. The Black Death reduced the number of monks there from 64 to 32. In 1534 the abbot and monks subscribed to the Act of Supremacy, and when King henry viii created the new Anglican diocese of Peterborough, comprised of Northampton and Rutland, the last abbot, John Chambers, became the first Anglican bishop, while the abbey church became the cathedral in 1541. catherine of aragon is buried there, as was mary stuart, Queen of Scots, until transferred to westminster abbey in 1612.

Bibliography: Sources. The Peterborough Chronicle, ed. c. plummer in Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel, 2 v. (Oxford 189299). The Peterborough Chronicle, 10701154, ed. c. clark (London 1958). The Peterborough Chronicle, tr. g. n. garmonsway in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (New York 1953). w. t. mellows, ed., The Last Days of Peterborough Monastery (Kettering 1947); Peterborough Local Administration (Kettering 1941). Carte nativorum: A Peterborough Abbey Cartulary of the 14th Century, ed. c. n. l. brooke and m. m. postan (London 1960). Literature. w. dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum (London 165573); best ed. by j. caley et al., 6 v. (181730) 1:344404. j. britton, History and Antiquities of the Abbey and Cathedral Church of Peterborough (London 1828). The Victoria History of the County of Northampton, ed. w. r. d. adkins et al. (Westminster, Eng. 1902 ). l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 193539) 2:226263. d. knowles and r. n. hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales (New York 1953) 73, 299, 34.7. d. knowles, The Monastic Order in England, 9431216 (2d ed. Cambridge, Eng. 1962). d. knowles, The Religious Orders in England, 3 v. (Cambridge, Eng. 194860). f.l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 1057.

[m. j. hamilton]

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