About St Eanswythe's House the First Nunnery in the UK
Friends of St Mary and St Eanswythe are dedicated to the preservation of the oldest Church in Folkestone as a focal point of historical interest for residents and visitors to Folkestone. The funds raised are devoted to the upkeep of the building and furthering public understanding of its history, architecture and significance.
Starting in the 7th century with a Kentish Princess called Eanswythe, who chose Christianity over marriage, she set up what is said to be, the first Convent in England as well as the early version of the ‘Food Bank’. St Eanwythe’s relics are still housed in the Church.
Churches came and went throughout our long history.
The town of Folkestone was incorporated in 1313 by Edward 11 and from then until the Reformation the burgesses met annually at the Churchyard cross on the feast of the Nativity of our Lady (8th September) to elect the Mayor. The present cross is a restoration of 1897, but the steps on which it stands are mediaeval. The official stall of the Mayors of Folkestone may be seen within the Church at the head of the nave. It is decorated by an elaborately wrought brass mace-rest set with municipal seal of St Eanswythe.
St Eanswythe's House the First Nunnery in the UK Registered charity number 1161358