St. Erkenwald

St. Erkenwald (right in red), Abbot Beocca and the monks slaughtered by the Vikings in AD 871 (centre)

Erkenwald founded Chertsey Abbey in A.D.666, and became it’s first Benedictine Abbot. He spread the name and influence of the Abbey increasing it’s property and wealth. Only 9 years after the Abbey’s foundation, Erkenwald gained further lands for the Abbey, the gift of Frithwald, a Surrey Earl. Under the care of the first Abbot, Chertsey Abbey became one of the greatest religious houses in South East England.

Described as a fine organiser with a saintly character, Erkenwald assisted the King of Wessex in compiling the first code of the Anglo-Saxon Laws. Subsequently he was appointed as Bishop of London, and founded the great Abbey of Barking for nuns. His sister, Ethelburga became the first Abbess.

When Erkenwald died his reputation was so great that there were several claims for his body. The Abbey of Barking nuns claimed `right of possession’, Chertsey Abbey monks requested the return of their Abbot, and London citizens demanding the right to keep their Bishop. Amidst dispute an armed force of citizens seized Erkenwald’s body, and carried it to St. Paul’s, London, where he was canonised. His shrine was the most glorious in old St. Paul’s.