Monument record MYO2014 - Clementhorpe Nunnery (St Clements Priory)


The priory of Clementhorpe was the only medieval nunnery in the immediate vicinity of the city of York and the first post-Conquest religious house for women in the whole of Yorkshire. The priory is very inadequately documented. Founded by Archbishop Thurstan between 1125 and 1133, Clementhorpe Priory played a much negelcted but significant role in the lives of the inhabitants of York until its dissolution in 1536. From the 16th century onwards the medieval buildings of the nunnery gradually became more and more dilapidated, and the area around the derelict priory was largely devoted to grazing. By the 19th century only street-names in the area preserved the memory of the nuns of medieval Clementhorpe. Precinct wall circuit only known from cartography.


Grid reference Centred SE 60311 51068 (256m by 97m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (7)

Full Description


(SE 6032 5107) Remains of St Clement's Church (united with St Mary's AD 1585) and site of the Nunnery of St Clement (Benedictine) Founded AD 1145.
(SE 6025 3110 - SE 6028 5110) Stone Walls.
(SE 6033 5110 - SE 6039 5110) Remains of the Nunnery Wall. (1)

The priory of St Clement was founded between 1125 and 1133 by Archbishop Thurstan and was suppressed in 1536. (2-3). Excavations in 1976-77 by the York Archaeological Trust revealed fragmentary structures and some 250 medieval burials. Exact identification of the features proved difficult because of massive disturbance in post-medieval times but the relative position of the burials suggest that they lay within the nunnery church itself. It therefore seems probable that the church lay to the north of where it is located on 19th century maps. Study of the 17th and early 19th century drawings of the priory suggest that the structures depicted were part of the south claustral range and not those of the nunnery church.
It was possible to delineate the approximate extent of the precinct of the priory from cartographic evidence. The single frament of presumed precinct wall (RCHM) was examined in detail before excavation and was found to stand on footings containing post-medieval brickwork; the location and the alignment were completely at odds with the cartographic evidence. (2) RCHM reference. (4). (For Roman remains seen in the same excavations see SE 65 SW 53).

1 Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date) Ordnance Survey 1:1056 Scale Map - York 15 1852
2 VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION Dobson R B & Donaghey S. 1984. `The History of Clementhorpe Nunnery' - The Archaeology of York Volume 2 - Historical Sources for York Archaeology after AD 1100. Fascicule 1. (ed P V Addyman) Plans. Drawings.
3 Medieval religious houses in England and Wales 269 by David Knowles and R Neville Hadcock
4 An inventory of the historical monuments in the City of York. Volume III: south-west of the Ouse 48 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, England

NMR, 2019, NMR data (Digital archive). SYO2214.

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Digital archive: NMR. 2019. NMR data.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Record last edited

Dec 16 2019 4:20PM


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