Minster’s heritage stems from its royal Saxon abbey which, from its hilltop vantage point, no doubt dominated the skyline and was originally a Benedictine convent founded in the 7th century by Queen Sexburga of Kent. Now one of the oldest functioning churches in England, its unique architecture and history attracts visitors from all over the world. The adjoining 1,000-year-old Gatehouse is now a museum and is home to a range of exhibits depicting the Island’s heritage. Whilst open most days of the summer months, take time to experience the outstanding views from the battlements 200ft above sea level.
There is evidence of people living in Minster from as far back as Roman times. During the Anglo- Saxon period, Saxons swarmed on to the Island, threw up fortifications and settled in and around Minster, guarding the mouth of the Thames.
Charles Dickens also has a close association with Minster and the abbey. He liked to visit a friend, Captain Johns, who lived in Prospect Villa, a house that still exists at the bottom of Minster Hill. Dickens used to take the church warden’s daughter for “pick-a-back” rides through the churchyard so doubtless the author knew the abbey well, and used his knowledge of Minster to describe the area in The Old Curiosity Shop.
Today, Minster-on-Sea, as it is known, is by far the largest parish on the Island and one of the biggest in Kent. The beach and the Leas are ideal places to grab some fresh air – make sure you try out the new outside gym equipment, as well as keeping an eye out for the charming new pastel coloured beach huts. However, a 10-minute walk to The Glen, newly designated as a village green, contrasts with this bustling village and will afford some spectacular views over the North Sea, the Swale and the Nore.