Home Page     Churches Index     Minster     11th July 1999

Extract from: Sheppey Historic Church Trail
The Church of St. Mary with St. Sexburgha, or MINSTER ABBEY as it is usually called, stands high up on a hill in Minster. Although it is one of the oldest churches in England, visitors will find an historic building which is also the focus of a living and growing church family.

Minster Abbey was founded in 664, and part of the original nuns' chapel built with Kentish ragstone, containing flints and Roman tiles which can be seen in the north-east corner of the present church.

For over 1300 years, people have worshipped God on this site, during which time the Saxons, Danes and Normans have come and gone. All have left their mark, together with succeeding generations to the present day. In the Abbey you will find monuments to great people in Sheppey’s past, such as the stone effigies to Sir Robert de Shurland and his faithful horse, Grey Dolphin; the Northwode brasses (13th century) and the tomb of Sir Thomas Cheyney, treasurer to Henry VIII.

The magnificent roof over the south aisle built by local carpenters and shipwrights of the 19th century should also be seen.

Visitors are welcome daily including Sundays, although during summer there can be several weddings on Saturdays. From mid-May to early September there is a team of ‘Abbey Watchers’ available 10am - noon and 2pm - 5pm to show you round and answer questions. At other times you may be able to collect a key from the nearby Vicarage. Parties are welcome and cream teas can be organised by arrangement. For more details please contact Miss Eileen Clark (01795 875508) or the Vicar, Revd. Gilbert Spencer (01795 873185).

Standing close by the Abbey is the Gatehouse Museum - a building of great age, full of interesting Sheppey artefacts and well worth a visit. Open from 2pm to 5pm during the 4 days of Easter; the early and spring bank holiday weekends; all weekends during June; then mid July to mid-September daily except Thursdays. Further details from the Local History Society - 01795 872303 or 01795 661119.

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