Ruins of Barking Abbey

Hildelith of Barking, also known as Hildelitha, was an 8th-century Christian saint,[1] from Anglo-Saxon England.

Very little is known of her life; however, she is known to history mainly through the hagiography of the Secgan Manuscript,[2] and the Life of St Hildelith written in 1087 by the Medieval Benedictine hagiographical writer Goscelin.[3] She was abbess of the nunnery at Barking in England,[4] succeeding the role from the abbey's founder, Æthelburh of Barking. It is not known who replaced her as the next known abbess is Wulfhild of Norway, three centuries later and just prior to the Norman Invasion. Hildelith was unique in that under her control the abbey acted as a double monastery.[5]

She was also the superior to Cwenburh of Wimborne prior to that saint's founding of Wimborne Abbey. She was abbess until about 700 AD and she died about 725 AD, being buried in Barking.


  1. The Oxford Dictionary of Saints
  2. Stowe MS 944, British Library
  3. M.L. Colker, Lives of the female saints of Barking Abbey, "Texts of Jocelyn of Canterbury which relate to the history of Barking Abbey." Studia Monastica 7.2 (1965). 383-460.
  4. William Page & J. Horace Round, ed. (1907). 'Houses of Benedictine nuns: Abbey of Barking', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2. pp. 115–122.
  5. Hollis, Stephanie. Anglo-Saxon Women and the Church: Sharing A Common Fate. Rochester: Boydell, 1992. p259.

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