Eadburh of Winchester

Eadburh (or Edburga) (died 15 June 960) was the daughter of King Edward the Elder of England and his third wife, Eadgifu of Kent.


Eadburh of Winchester
Edburgah of Winchester.png
Died15 June 960
Venerated inAnglican Communion
Catholic Church
Orthodox Church
Feast15 June


In the twelfth century, a Latin Life of her was written by Osbert de Clare, who became prior of Westminster in 1136 (and who also wrote a Life of King Edward the Confessor).[1] According to Osbert, at the age of three, Eadburh was given as an oblate to the Queen Mother Ealhswith's foundation of St Mary's Abbey, Winchester (Nunnaminster). There Eadburh was educated and there she remained as a nun and died probably before the age of forty.[2]

There is little contemporary information for her life, but in a Winchester charter dated 939, she was the beneficiary of land at Droxford in Hampshire granted by her half-brother King Athelstan.[3]

According to one account, when Eadburh was three years of age, her father sought an indication as to whether she would live in the world or as a religious. On one side he placed rings and bracelets, on the other a chalice and gospel book. A nurse brought the child, and King Edward set her on his knee, inviting her to choose. When he set her down, she chose the religious items.[4][5]

The hagiography written of her in the 12th century by Osbert of Clare shows evidence of some of the unusual occurrences that might have happened in that time period when a member of a royal family became a monk or nun. In one story, her father visits her in the monastery and she sings for him, and he asks her if there is anything he can do for her, and she asks for him to give the community an estate at Canning, which he does so. In another story, the abbess found her reading alone, which was against the rules of the monastery, and then thrashed her. When the abbess realized it was the princess and not an ordinary nun, the abbess then begged forgiveness from her. In another story, she one time insisted on cleaning the shoes of her well-born companions, and they felt shocked by this and reported it to her father as behaviour that is not right for her.[6]


A cult developed after her death and is first mentioned in the Salisbury Psalter from the early 970s.[7] In 972, some of her remains were transferred to Pershore Abbey in Worcestershire, which is dedicated to SS. Mary, Peter and Paul, and Eadburh. Her feast is celebrated on 15 June.[2]

Her cultus continued to flourish to judge by the Lives written in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Dedication of parish churchesEdit

There are a number of Church of England parish churches dedicated to St. Eadburh of Winchester.[8] Most of them are not far from Pershore Abbey, to which they were connected in some way.

St Edburg, Bicester, Oxfordshire and SS Mary & Edburga, Stratton Audley, Oxfordshire are both dedicated to Edburga of Bicester.

Dedication of abbey churchesEdit

St Mary's Abbey, Winchester was at one time co-dedicated to St. Eadburh. Pershore Abbey was also for some time dedicated to her after Egilwado (Alwardus or Æthelweard), the nephew of the Abbess of St. Mary's Abbey, acquired some of her bones for £100.[18] The dedication of the Abbey varied at different times in its history. In the Domesday Book it is called the Abbey of St. Mary; in Henry VIII's time the Valor of St. Edburga. It has also been called the Church of SS Mary, Edburga and Holy Cross (the parochial portion was dedicated to the Holy Cross). In its earlier years SS. Mary, Peter, and Paul were its patron saints, but at the time of the introduction of the Benedictines it was probably dedicated to St. Mary, with whom was joined St. Edburga, whose relics had then not long been added to its treasure.[18]


  1. ^ The text is edited by Susan J. Ridyard in her The Royal Saints of Anglo-Saxon England, 253 ff.
  2. ^ a b Farmer, David. "Edburga of Winchester", The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, 5th ed revised, Oxford University Press, 2011 ISBN 9780199596607
  3. ^ Sawyer no. 446
  4. ^ Hervey, Thomas. The bishops of Winchester in the Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman periods, 1877, p. 92]
  5. ^ Hunt, William. A History of the English Church, Macmillan and Company, Limited, 1899, p. 297
  6. ^ Studies in the Early History of Shaftesbury Abbey, Dorset County Council, 1999
  7. ^ Forbes, Helen Foxhall. "Gender and Monastic Life in Late Anglo-Saxon Winchester", Gender and the City Before Modernity, (Lin Foxhall and Gabriele Neher, eds.), John Wiley & Sons, 2012 ISBN 9781118234433
  8. ^ Sean Blanchflower. "St Edburga". Church of England Saint dedications. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  9. ^ *Robertson, John Drummond (1890). Moreton, Henry H. Reynolds, Lord (ed.). A glossary of dialect & archaic words used in the County of Gloucester. London: Published for the English Dialect Society by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner. p. 183.
  10. ^ The old local name for Ebrington was 'Yabberton', or more likely 'Yad-berton. See e.g. Stone, James Samuel (1893). Over the hills to Broadway. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates. p. 15. or Savory, Arthur H. (1920). Grain and Chaff from an English Manor. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. Chapter XXV (n.p.). This echoes the name of Abberton, Worcs., which was anciently called 'Eadbrihtinctune'. The 'Y' in Yabberton is formed in a similar way to the old Cotswold dialect word for 'head', yud, or yarn for 'to earn':[9] thus *Yeadbrihtinctune.
  11. ^ Ebrington Manor belonged to Roger de Quincy, 2nd Earl of Winchester (c.1195 – 25 April 1264), who died without leaving a male heir."Roger de Quency alias de Quinsy, sometime earl of Winchester (C 132/40/9)". National Archives. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  12. ^ The advowson belonged to the Abbot and convent of Pershore from the earliest times of which records are obtainable, up to the Dissolution. Page, William; Willis-Bund, J, W., eds. (1924). "Parishes: Broadway," in A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. London: Victoria County History. p. 33-43, para 51. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  13. ^ Abberton was called 'Eadbrihtinctune' in the 10th century, The advowson was in the hands of the Abbot of Pershore by 1283, and was held by the abbey until its suppression. Page, William; Willis-Bund, J, W., eds. (1924). "Parishes: Abberton" in A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. London: Victoria County History. pp. 4–7, para 15. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  14. ^ Before the Conquest Leigh was held by the abbey of Pershore, to which abbey it still belonged in 1086. Page, William; Willis-Bund, J, W., eds. (1913). "Parishes: Leigh with Bransford" in A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. London: Victoria County History. pp. 101–111, para 12. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  15. ^ Yardley formed part of the original endowment of Pershore Abbey. Page, William; Willis-Bund, J, W., eds. (1913). "Parishes: Yardley" in A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. London: Victoria County History. pp. 238–245, para 111. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  16. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Aldhelm and St Eadburgha (1248192)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  17. ^ 'Braodheath - Brockhall', in A Topographical Dictionary of England, ed. Samuel Lewis (London, 1848), pp. 389-392. British History Online [accessed 1 December 2019].
  18. ^ a b Andrews, Francis Baugh (1901). The Benedictine abbey of SS. Mary, Peter, and Paul at Pershore, Worcestershire. Birmingham and Pershore: Midland Educational Co. : Fearnside & Martin. p. 6.


  • Sawyer no. 446
  • Osbert de Clare, Vita Edburgae, MS. Laud Misc. 114, f. 85–120 (Bodleian, Oxford), ed. S.J. Ridyard, The Royal Saints of Anglo-Saxon England. A Study of West Saxon and East Anglian Cults. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought 4. Cambridge, 2008. 253 ff (Appendix).
  • Anonymous, De vita sanctae Edburgae virginis, preserved in the early fourteenth-century MS Lansdowne 436, f. 41v-43v (British Library, London), ed. Laurel Braswell, "Saint Edburga" (see below). 329-33.
  • Lectiones in Breviary of Hyde Abbey (late 13th century), Rawlinson liturg. E I and Gough liturg. 8 (Bodleian, Oxford)
  • Life (in Middle English, late 13th century), MS Egerton 1993, f. 160-1 (BL, London); Eng. Poet. A I f. 32-32v and Bodley 779, f. 282-293v (Bodleian, Oxford), ed. Laurel Braswell, "Saint Edburga" (see below). 329-33.

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