Wilton Abbey

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Wiltshire, England, established in 773 by Egbert, King of the East Saxons, as a college for priests. St. Alburga, sister of King Egbert, and first abbess, converted it to a Benedictine nunnery for 12 companions c. 800. Seventy years later alfred the great restored it to house 26 nuns. Its most famous member, St. Edith (d.984), daughter of King edgar, was a friend of dunstan and ethelwold. Another Edith, wife of edward the confessor, replaced the wooden structure with a stone building. Royal benefactions increased its importance; King Stephen fortified it in 1143. The abbess ranked as baroness, a distinction shared by only the abbesses of Shaftesbury, barking, and Winchester. Cecily Bodenham, the last abbess, surrendered the house to Henry VIII on March 25, 1539, and nothing now remains of the original buildings.

Bibliography: w. dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum (London 165573); best ed. by j. caley, et al., 6 v. (181730) 2:315332. l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 193539) 2:345657. d. knowles, The Monastic Order in England, 9431216 (2d ed. Cambridge, England 1962) 136138, 270.

[f. corrigan]