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Convent of St Joseph in Lawrence Street, home to Poor Clare Colettines, set for redevelopment
A CONVENT which has been home to a closed order of nuns for more than 140 years in York is finally closing down.
The Convent of St Joseph in Lawrence Street has become unmanageable for the eight remaining Poor Clare Colettines and is going on the market.
The huge property, which has recently been Grade ll listed because of its architectural and historical importance, includes a cloistered quadrangle, chapel, cells and refectory.
Outside, there are almost five acres of land, surrounded by a 15ft brick wall and used until now as gardens and orchards by the nuns, who aimed to be as self-sufficient as possible.
Matthew Jones, of York estate agents Savills, which is handling the sale, said the site was being sold as a whole or in two separate lots.
He said the buildings were suitable for residential conversion while the land was suitable for development with new build homes, but a small burial ground would be retained.
Mr Jones said the land should appeal to buyers from the buoyant residential and student development sector. He said: “Unique opportunities like this in York rarely come to the market.”
The convent’s Mother Abbess said it was founded in 1864 by a group of sisters who came to York from a convent in Bruges.
The buildings were designed by a local Roman Catholic ecclesiastical architect, George Goldie, and were built between 1870 and 1875.
She said that at its peak during the 1940s, the convent was home to more than 40 nuns, but numbers had slowly declined over the years.
There had been escalating bills for maintenance and heating of the huge building and, following lengthy consideration, the decision had been taken to apply for permission to close from both the Middlesbrough Roman Catholic Diocese and then from the Vatican in Rome.
She stressed the Poor Clares planned to remain in the York area by creating a new convent in a converted house.
“We feel that our community has become a special part of York’s heritage and while St Joseph’s has become unmanageable for us, we hope and pray that we’ll stay in the York area and be able to continue our duties close by,” she said.
She said she had mixed feelings about leaving the building but believed it was the right thing to do. “It’s only bricks and mortar,” she said.
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