Continued entries/extra info

[Page] 53

[continued from page 52]

Franciscan Nunnery

This Congregation of Grey Sisters otherwise Claresses, Nuns of St Clare, or Franciscan Monachae
occupied a large building which still remains and is the only one of all the religious houses which
the town contained that remains, externally, at least, entire. This house is situated at the top of the
Methodist Close a few yards east of Barrack Street. It is seperated from the Houff by the in-
terposition only of the Coach building premises of the Messrs Cuthbert. The building is lofty and
forms three sides of a square en­closing a very small court the eastern side being only two flats
in height. The ground floor of the west and north sides is vaulted but the ground of the east side
is occupied with three arches in the nature of a Cloister or covered walk in which the sisters had taken
the exercise of walk­ing during inclement weather. These arches are as they long have been divided
into three divisions by cross walls and two of these divisions the south and middle ones are used as cellars. Above
the vaults on the north side there is a large hall which extends the whole length and breadth of that part of the
house. Before the Reformation this hall was the chapel of the nunnery and at one time towards the end of
last century it was used by the Society of methodists as a place of worship (from which circumstance the
name of the Closed is derived), after their establishment in the town, afterwards by coach builder's workshop
and nearly forty years ago as a schoolroom and now as it belongs to the Hammermen Incorporation it is fitted up
for almost any purpose being occasionally used by the unbeneficed preacher the itinerant salesman the philo-
sophical lecturer, and not unfrequently it has been the scene of the stage struck follies of would-be Edmund
Keans and Fanny Kembles. Another apartment above this equal in extent but made so by putting several
rooms into one was long and perhaps still is used as a place of devotional meeting by a small society
of Christians who called themselves Bereans or were so called by others and formerly when the hall below was
[continued on page 54]

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