Music & Light Symbiosis no. 4 | water and music for St. Eanswythe

Please click on the YouTube link to listen to music composed in the 9th Century, whilst you read about my proposal..

My proposal is to combine a very early (early medieval 500-1300AD) music concert with a water installation in the church of St. Mary and St. Eanswythe to honour the local Saint Eanswythe (c.614 – c.640), whose remains are kept in the church.

The event could be over the weekend of Saturday 12th September, St. Eanswythe’s Day.

Proposal: water channels | reflection pools in the church

Photomontage image of Reflection Pool no. 1, reflecting the altar, the sanctuary, the chancel and stain glass windows of the east end.
The channel of water would be shallow, leading up the aisle towards the altar and the safe, where the possible remains of St. Eanswythe are kept.
Any wind or touch on the water would ripple the reflection.
Photomontage image of Reflection Pool no. 2, reflecting the south stained glass window

Eanswythe was an Anglo-Saxon princess born circa 631-41, a granddaughter of king Æthelberht of Kent (who was converted to Christianity by Augustine of Canterbury), and daughter of King Eadbald of Kent, who reigned from 616 to 640. She founded, and was Abbess of, the first nunnery in Kent, of St Peter and St Paul, founded in Folkestone in c.660. St Eanswythe died circa 653-663.

More music to listen to from C5th. Chants de l’Eglise Milanaise – Tecum Principium – 5th century Ambrosian Plain-chant, Milan Ensemble Organum, Dir. Marcel Pérès, sung by Sister Marie Keyrouz

Eanswythe refused to marry and “renouncing secular pomp from her infancy, she studied to serve God, trod down each worldly precious thing and, having embraced holy teaching with all her power, she sighted with a never-ending desire for the life of the heavenly kingdom and sought to submit to the rule of the holy life.” Nova Legenda Angli, 2 vols. translated by James Lloyd taken form The Finding St. Eanswythe exhibition at The Sassoon Gallery, Folkestone to 17th March 2019

Eanswythe was believed to have performed miracles: communicating to geese and persuading them to leave the area so as not to cause more destruction to crops, helping a blind woman to see etc.

Abraham Walter Map, 1698 – Broadmead and Sandgate Plain, showing the labelled, “Eanswith Water Course to the Towne“.
The Pent River runs along the valley to the right of the Eanswythe Watercourse.

The miracle she is most well known for is the myth that she miraculously made a watercourse run from a spring outside of Folkestone to the Bayle water, located near the church, a distance of approx 3-4 miles. It has been discovered that this incredible feat of engineering was “possibly the earliest example of water engineering in England: St. Eanswythe’s watercourse must be at least 500 years earlier than the wonder constructed by Prior Wibert of Christ Church, Canterbury”. Quote taken from a newspaper cutting from 1928, featured in the Finding St. Eanswythe exhibition. So the water course was possibly constructed at the end of the 11th Century, carbon dating of bones found in an archaeological dig near the construction are the main pointer to this date.


Trying to source music and musicians that evoke the period would be ideal.

Sequentia a Medieval Ensemble based in Paris have worked with the Early Music specialist Dr Sam Barrett in Cambridge, specifically trying to decipher what the early medieval music might’ve sounded like, as it wasn’t until the C13th that music was first annotated.

Sequentia Ensemble

Canterbury Cathedral Girls Choir is lead by David Newsholme and we were in productive conversation about his girls choir singing early female composers such as the music by Hildegarde of Bingen

Canterbury Cathedral Girls Choir