The parish church of St. Mary-the-Virgin is largely Norman but with significant traces of earlier work, the problems of which are unresolved. The nave is impressive with five bays, and thecrossing has an ancient chalk block vaulting. The chancel is Early English with later flying buttresses intended to halt the very obvious spread of the upper walls. There is a fine set ofmisericords reliably dated around 1400. The tower has a curious turret at its southeast corner that is locally referred to as a Saxon watch tower but is built at least partly from Caen stone; it may be that it dates from the time of the conquest but is built in an antique style sometimes called Saxo-Norman. A doorway in the turret opens out some two metres above the present roof line.
The church was used by both the brethren of the second abbey, a dependency of St. Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury, and as a parish church. Socket holes in the piers of the crossing suggest that, as well as a rood screen, there was a further screen dividing nave and crossing, such as still exists at Dunster in Somerset. This abbey surrendered during the dissolution in 1534.
Minster Abbey is a house incorporating remains of the Anglo-Saxon abbey and alleged to be the oldest continuously inhabited house in England. It now houses the village's third religious community, a priory of Roman Catholic Benedictine sisters that is a daughter community of Eichstätt in Bavaria. It was settled in 1937 by refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and continues to flourish as an international community. The Priory has the care of a relic of St. Mildred that had been in the care of a church in Deventer in the Netherlands since the Reformation.
|Like the unusual buttress|
|Weird looking tree|