The history of Minories

In the late 13th century the Abbey of St Clare was founded in Aldgate by King Edward I's brother Edmund, the Earl of Lancaster, and his wife Blanche. The nuns were a part of the Order of St Clare, the most austere female order of the Roman Catholic Church, known for their vows of a life of extreme poverty. The nuns would have arrived from the continent and been of noble birth. The Abbey would later also include daughters of wealthy merchants. The exact date of establishment is unknown, but records show the nunnery being taxed in 1291, to help finance a crusade to the Holy Land.

The nuns of the St Clare Order were commonly referred to in Latin as sorores minores (lesser sisters), which in medieval England translated to minoresses. Over time this area, but more specifically the street, would be known as Minories. 

The Abbey was then in the parish of St Botolph without Aldgate and within the ward or Portsoken, however, it obtained privileges which were granted by the King and the Pope to make it independent of both. The Abbey's surround land housed a small population of servants and patrons that served it. These residents also fell within this unique jurisdiction, which continued to be protected by the succession of royal and noble patrons as described by E.M Tomlinson:

"The parish was practically a miniature kingdom of its own, acknowledging no allegiance to any authority whatever except the Crown. The parishioners appointed their own minister, and, when appointed, he claimed freedom from any jurisdiction of bishop...persons dwelling in the precinct were free from arrest by outside authorities, and they paid no public taxes, except such as were especially levied upon Royal liberties."

Of course these days Minories where once the Abbey stood is now part of Tower Ward!