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Dorset, England
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Wimborne Minster, Dorsetshire

The Minster, dedicated to St Cuthbergha, dates from the 11th century and is reknowned for its chained library, the second largest of its kind country.

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Cuthburgha married the King of Northumbria in the 8th century but retired for a time to a nunnery at Barking in Essex before founding the Nunnery in Wimborne.

The present minster is reputed to have been built on the site of the Saxon nunnery founded by Cuthbergha and Cwenburh (both sisters of King Ine of Wessex) in 718 AD. Both the nunnery and the town were destroyed by the Danes in the early 11th century.

Cuthbergha died in 725 and was buried in the Saxon Church which is thought to have stood on the site of the present Minster.

After the destruction of Cuthbergha's convent and church by the Danes, a college of secular cannons was established on the site by Edward the Confessor and survived until Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries. The college became a royal free chapel.

When King Aethelred I (the elder brother of Alefred - later Alfred the Great) was mortally wounded by an arrow in a battle with the Danes at Martin in 871 AD, his body was brought to Wimborne for burial by his brother. When the present Norman Minster was built, his remains were removed to its Sanctuary. The Minster still contains his grave slab - complete with a 14th brass insert.

The Danish King Sifferth is also buried at the Minster. He met his death in 962, either by accident or a deliberate murder.


This peculiar jurisdiction established during the Tudor period remained until 1848 - the twelve lay governors remain as patrons of the benefice.

Margaret, Countess of Richmond and the mother of King Henry VII, founded a chantry and seminary at Wimborne. This was dissolved along with Edward the Confessor's college in 1547 as part of Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries but later re-established as a grammar with twelve governors by a royal charter of Queen Elizabeth I.

Cardinal Pole, Archbishop of Canterbury and son of Margaret, Countess of Salisbury became Dean here when only seventeen years of age. The strife between Church and monarch when Henry VIII decided to take on a new wife caused the Cardinal/Archbishop to publish an attack upon the King on the continent. The furious Henry wrought vengeance on the family, descendents of the Plantagenets, by exterminating them; some he had brought to trial and executed, others he had attainted without trial.

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The astronomical clock is thought to have been made by Peter Lightfoot in 1320.

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1562Wimborne Grammar School re-founded under a new grant

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