Lifting the veil: the life of cloistered women in medieval England – talk by Prof James Clark, 2pm

In the Middle Ages, women, like men, committed themselves to the enclosed and strictly regulated life of the monastery. The largest and wealthiest monastery in medieval Exeter was a community of women (at Polsloe), and there were further colonies of cloistered women across the West Country. Today the visible remains of their convents are few and far between and traces of them in the archive are very slight by comparison with the monasteries of men. This talk considers what can be known of the experience of the girls and women who passed their whole lives set apart from the world.

James Clark is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. His research concentrates on cultural and religious life in England at the end of the Middle Ages and during the Reformation. He has published widely on these themes and is currently completing a new history of the dissolution of the monasteries. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he is regular contributor on historical topics to TV, radio and new media and has written for BBC History, History Today and for various outlets online.

This talk is part of our Benedictine Day on 25th March. For a full programme of the day, please click here

Do come and join us to soak up the history of Exeter’s oldest building and this quiet corner of the city.

Founded by William the Conqueror in 1087, St Nicholas Priory was home to Benedictine monks for over 400 years and is the oldest building in Exeter. In 1536, like other monasteries, it was closed and the remains became the home of wealthy Tudor merchants.



St Nicholas Priory is in Mint Lane with walking access from Fore Street or Bartholomew Street West.
The nearest car park is Mary Arches Street (5 mins). Parking at Smythen Street and Harlequin Shopping Centre is also available.  Exeter Central railway station (10 mins). The bus station is a 15-minute walk away with many buses stopping on the High Street (1o mins).


Unfortunately, only the ground floor of our building is wheelchair-accessible.

Accessible loos and nappy-changing facilities.

If you have any questions or concerns about your visit, please email me on


Mar 25 2023








St Nicholas Priory
Mint Lane, Off Fore Street, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3BL
For Tickets Click Here!