Biography of Bishop Earconwald 630-693

Bishop Earconwald was born to Father of Earconwald and Æthelburh.

In 666 Bishop Earconwald founded Chertsey Abbey [Map] for men and Barking Abbey [Map] for women. He served as Abbot Chertsey Abbey whilst his sister [his sister] Æthelburh of Barking served as Abbess of Barking.

Bede. 674. He then also appointed Earconwald bishop of the East Saxons, in the city of London, over whom at that time presided Sebbe (age 48) and Sighere, of whom mention has been made above. This Earconwald's life and conversation, as well when he was bishop as before his advancement to that dignity, is reported to have been most holy, as is even at this time testified by heavenly miracles; for to this day, his horse-litter, in which he was wont to be carried when sick, is kept by his disciples, and continues to cure many of agues and other distempers; and not only sick persons who are laid in that litter, or close by it, are cured; but the very chips of it, when carried to the sick, are wont immediately to restore them to health.

Bede. 674. This man, before he was made bishop, had built two famous monasteries, the one [Map] for himself, and the other [Map] for his sister [his sister] Ethelberga, and established them both in regular discipline of the best kind. That for himself was in the county of Surrey, by the river Thames, at a place called Ceortesei [Map], that is, the Island of Ceorot; that for his sister in the province of the East Saxons, at the place called Bercingum [Map], wherein she might be a mother and nurse of devout women. Being put into the government of that monastery, she behaved herself in all respects as became the sister of such a brother, living herself regularly, and piously, and orderly, providing for those under her, as was also manifested by heavenly miracles.

In 675 Bishop Earconwald was appointed Bishop of London.

In 693 Bishop Earconwald died.

Bede. 694. At that time, as the same little book informs us, Sebbi (age 68), a devout man, of whom mention has been made above, governed the kingdom of the East Saxons. He was much addicted to religious actions, almsgivings, and frequent prayer; preferring a private and monastic life to all the wealth and honours of his kingdom, which sort of life he would also long before have undertaken, had not his wife positively refused to be divorced from him; for which reason many were of opinion, and often said so, that a person of such a disposition ought rather to have been a bishop than a king. When he had been thirty years a king, and a soldier of the heavenly kingdom, he fell into a violent sickness, of which he died, and admonished his wife, that they should then at least jointly devote themselves to the service of God, since they could no longer enjoy, or rather serve, the world. Having with much difficulty obtained this of her, he repaired to Waldhere, bishop of London, who had succeeded Earconwald, and with his blessing received the religious habit, which he had long desired. He also carried to him a considerable sum of money, to be given to the poor, reserving nothing for himself, but rather coveting to remain poor in spirit for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.