Hild of Streonshalh (Hilda of Whitby) 614 - 680

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Hild of Streonshalh (Hilda of Whitby) 614 – 680

‘Her prudence was so great that not only indifferent persons but even kings and princes asked and received her advice’.

The Ecclesiastical History of the English, 731, the Venerable Bede

Hild was the founder of the monastery of Streonshalh, later renamed Whitby by Viking invaders, in present-day North Yorkshire.

She became a nun at the age of 33, and was the Abbess of Streonshalh in 657. In this influential ‘double monastery’, men and women lived separately, but worshipped together in church. According to accounts by the 7th century monk the Venerable Bede, Hilda upheld ideals of Christianity, and ruled that all property and goods be held in common. Bede describes Hild as a woman of great energy, who was a skilled administrator and teacher. Renowned for her knowledge and spiritual power, she offered counsel and advice to kings, commanding a level of prestige and authority usually reserved for bishops.

Hild valued learning and actively recruited students for her monastery, including Caedmon, the earliest known English poet. A champion of female education, her monastery fostered a community of highly educated women.

From the late 19th century until the present day, there has been a revival of interest in St Hilda. With the development of education for modern women she has become the patron of many schools and colleges all over the world, such as the College of St Hild and St Bede in Durham, and St Hilda’s College, Oxford.

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