Gloucestershire Places of Worship

Poor Clare Convent, Woodchester (85k) Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of John Williams
Poor Clare Convent, Woodchester
Poor Clare Convent,
Convent Lane, GL5 5HS,
Woodchester, Gloucestershire.

Cemeteries

This Church had a graveyard.

Note: any church within an urban environment may have had its graveyard closed after the Burial Act of 1853. Any new church built after that is unlikely to have had a graveyard at all.

Church History

This Place of Worship was founded in 1861, but we understand it was closed in 2011.

"Poor Clare" was a young Italian noblewoman, with a burning desire to follow in the footsteps of St Francis of Assisi. She ran away from home to live under his guidance, at the church of San Damiano, where gradually she was joined by other women, also wanting to be "brides of Jesus". And so their Order was formed. Their abiding rule was they "should be allowed to live simply, without revenues, working for their living and relying on the gifts that people gave them". The Order was given papal approval two days before Clare's death in 1253.

The origins of the Poor Clares in England may be traced to 1619, when two English women fled to Belgium to escape religious persecution. They joined the Franciscan Friars in Brussells, and were later joined by others from England, seeking the freedom to follow their beliefs. The community survived in Belgium until the late 18th century, when revolutionary wars on the continent forced them to return to England. They settled first in Winchester, in 1794, and in 1808, moved to Taunton.

The Poor Clares Order in Woodchester was founded in 1860, when 16 volunteers from Taunton settled in an old farmhouse there. Their convent building, designed by Charles HANSOM, was built between 1861 and 1869, retaining the mid-17th century house at its core. It is set in 25 acres of ground, and now a Grade II Listed building. The chapel is at the south east end, on the upper floor, above the library and work rooms - see British Listed Buildings website for more details.

There was still a full complement of 30 nuns in 1950, but by 2000 there were just 14. By 2010, when the convent celebrated its 150th year there were even fewer, and in 2011, the convent is due to close.

The Order's presence will be sadly missed locally. Though an enclosed order, local people have said that Woodchester Poor Clares have not shut themselves away from the outside world. The convent has been well known for making altar breads and communion wafers for more that 200 churches and convents.

Until 1921 it had an orphanage.

The graves of 10 orphans and nuns buried at the convent have been exhumed and moved to the nearby church.

Woodchester also had a Dominican priory until 1971. [Sources: Rosemary Lockie, John Williams, the Poor Clares of Woodchester. website]

Denomination

Now or formerly Roman Catholic (Convent).

If more than one congregation has worshipped here, or its congregation has united with others, in most cases this will record its original dedication.

Maps

This Church was located at OS grid reference SO8392101362. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:

Reference

  • Places recorded by the Registrar General under the provisions of the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 (2010) is available as a "Freedom of Information" document from the website What Do They Know.
Last updated on 31 May 2017 at 09:00.

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This Report was created 4 Nov 2017 - 17:23:43 GMT from information held in the Gloucestershire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 30 Aug 2017 at 16:10.

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