St Mary’s Abbey, also known as Malling Abbey, in the town of West Malling in Kent, was founded as a community of Benedictine nuns in about 1090 by Gundulf, the Bishop of Rochester. The name comes from the Old English ingas meaning people of, and the personal name Mealla, literally Maella’s people. St Mary’s was one of the first post-Conquest monasteries for women. Just before his death in 1108, Gundulf appointed the French nun Avicia as its first abbess. Having been endowed with the manors of Malling and East Malling, the abbey prospered and West Malling became a flourishing market town. Major events in its life included a fire in 1190 which destroyed much of the abbey and town, and the Black Death in 1349 which reduced the community to four nuns and four novices. It was closed in 1538 by Henry VIII during his cull of the monasteries. Like many of the roads on the St Helier’s estate this is named after British monasteries and abbeys in remembrance of the area’s historic ownership by Westminster Abbey. The road names are in alphabetical order, of which Aberconway Road in the north west of the estate is first.
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