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Abbot Herbert

Abbot Herbert, of Norman extraction, was a monk at Westminster Abbey from about 1085 and may have come with Gilbert Crispin from Bec. He was appointed Abbot in January 1121. The Abbey had been without an abbot for several years before his appointment. The date of his death is uncertain but was probably in 1136 and he was buried in the southern part of the cloister "in front of the second bench as you go from the east cloister". Nothing marks his grave today. But his epitaph was recorded in John Flete's history of the Abbey (translated from the Latin):

The body of our Abbot Herbert lies here: now dead, may his spirit live before God.

He founded and endowed the small nunnery at Kilburn so that they could pray for the soul of King Edward the Confessor and the well being of the monastery at Westminster. There were various financial worries during his time and he was in bitter dispute with the Prior, Osbert of Clare.

Further reading

Westminster Abbey and its People c.1050-c.1216 by Emma Mason, 1996

The original charters of Herbert and Gervase Abbots of Westminster by Pierre Chaplais in A medieval miscellany for Doris Mary Stanton, Pipe Roll Society 1962


Priest; abbot


South Cloister

Abbot Herbert
Westminster Abbey in early Norman times

Reconstruction drawing by Terry Ball 1980.

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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You are surrounded by history at the Abbey, not like a museum where it’s just displayed, but here you are standing where history has happened.


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