Franciscan Nunnery

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 40160 30240, map


Methodist Close, Overgait
Bank Street


The order of the Gray Sisters was founded in 1212 and specialised in the care of the 'opressed and sorrowing, parentless, husbandless and homeless women of all classes.'

Description (exterior)

The following description of their building is a summary of the description within A.C Lamb (1898).

The building stood at the head of the Methodist Close, Overgate, and appears to be the town's second accommodation for the nuns. The only date reference, 1621 placed on a skewput, represents a date of erection or alteration for that section. The first floor contained a large dining area that was lit by four windows and used for religious meetings by various groups. One of the windows had a carved pieta representing the Virgin Mary with a dead Jesus Christ. Due to the condition of the stone it is thought that this pieta was transferred from an earlier building. This carving and two dormer windows that had pediments was the only decoration upon this building. There was a cloistered section to the east of the building that contained three arches 'with graceful pillars' that were considered to be older than the nunnery itself. The principal entrance, at the west, showed a pedimented door, winding staircase and underground vault. There was evidence of a well in the cloisters.

Description (interior)

Internally, the rooms were hightly decorated.
At the 1870 demolition, objects removed included an ornate fireplace carved with fruit and flowers and elaborate wainscoted wall panels. Other items included armorial bearings with the letters J.F. and a fireplace lintel with the letters D.H. Panels with several references to French and Scottish royalty suggest they were inserted circa 1536 after the marriage of James V to Queen Magdalen. These panels were saved by John Leng M.P. One of the doors contained large ornamental wrought-iron hinges and lock. A blocked window pane bore the inscription 'Eternity, Eternity, Eternity.'
The kitchen appears to have been at the highest level and dating from an earlier period than the main sections.




  • Nunnery/convent: Alteration/conversion (1621)
    found on skewput
  • Nunnery/convent: Destruction/demolition (1870)