The Abbey in Saxon Times

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The original title of the new "Western Monastery" or "Minster of the West" was the Collegiate Church or Abbey of St. Peter, and the story goes that it was built in honour of King Edward's favourite saint, in fulfilment, or rather in lieu of the fulfilment, of a vow made by the superstitious monarch when an exile in Normandy, that he would if he returned home in safety make a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle in Rome.

The nobles of England naturally opposed a scheme which would leave the Saxon kingdom once more a prey to the anarchy scarcely suppressed by the coronation of its lawful ruler, and the Pope released Edward from his vow on condition of his founding a monastery of St. Peter in his native land.

The first fifteen years of the reign of the last of the Saxons were occupied almost entirely in supervising the building of the new institution; one-tenth of the revenues of the kingdom was spent upon it, and whilst the defences of London, of the coast, and of the marches were rapidly falling into decay, the village of Charing was alive with native and foreign workmen employed on the abbey and palace of Westminster, the rise of which was simultaneous.

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