"Matilda" is the English form of "Mechtildis," the name of a well-loved Saint who was the Abbess of Edelstetten
in Bavaria. She devoted her whole life to prayer and to austerities of many kind. She had evident gifts of healing and
was prone to ecstatic revelations. Her reforms at Edelstetten went down well with the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor
who supported her efforts to restore proper monastic discipline to her community. Matilda died in 1160.
The reasoning behind the church's dedication to St. Matilda is somewhat obscure. No date is given for it. However, we
may speculate either that a relic of the saint was brought to Potherton, or that one of the medieval abbots felt an urge to
bring a reminder of the constant need for austerity and reform through the new dedication.
As the priory was a place also of convalescence as well as retreat St. Matilda's fame as a healer may have a part to
play in the choice of name. It was not the policy always for monastic retreat houses to have a dedication. We may
surmise, therefore, that the dedication was made following the building of the nave in recognition of the increasing
use of the church as a "chapel-of-ease" in the parish of Chartres Magna.
Like Matilda St. Withburga was of a noble family, one of the saintly daughters of King Anna of the East Saxons. She spent
much time alone on the Norfolk coast but towards the end of her life she founded a small community of nuns at Dereham in mid-Norfolk,
where a well in the churchyard bears her name.
On her death in 743 she was buried at Dereham. Her body was translated later to the great Abbey now Ely Cathedral,
to lie next to her sisters, Etheldreda and Sexburga.
The choice of St. Withburga as a dedication was natural for the nunnery attached to the priory. Indeed, the
dedication is recorded earlier than that of the main church.