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St. Wulfhilda, Abbess of Barking
(Died c.AD 990)

Wulfhilda was brought up at Wilton Abbey in Wiltshire, where, it is siad, the King fell in love with her. It is generally said that this king was Edgar the Peaceable (though he is occasionally called Edward). Presents, messages, offers being of no avail, he gained over the lady's aunt, Abbess Wenflaeda of Wherwell who, feigning illness, sent for her niece to attend on her. When Wulfhilda arrived at the house, she found she had been entrapped; and, upon conversing with the King, she found his fervour so alarming, that she fled, leaving her sleeve in his hand, and escaping through the drains.

Immediately after this, the lady took the veil and the King, convinced of her enthusiastic goodness, thenceforth "held her as a thing enskied and sainted" and made her Abbess of Barking, giving to that monastery considerable estates. Wulfhilda bestowed upon it twenty villages of her own and founded another monastery at Horton. Both these houses, she governed with great ability and set an excellent example to the inmates. Queen Elfrida became envious and, on the death of the King, ejected Wulfhilda from her monasteries, as she had herself foretold. She was restored under Aethelred the Unready and died at Barking on 10th December around AD 990. Her virtues in life and the cures wrought at her tomb at Barking raised her to the level of her two great predecessors there, Ethelburga of Barking and Hildelith. She is often, incorrectly, confounded with St. Wulfthrith.

Edited from Agnes Dunbar's "A Dictionary of Saintly Women" (1904).

 

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