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CHESTER GREYFRIARS

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Franciscan friary founded 1238-40, dissolved 1538. The precinct measured some 7 acres, a roughly rectangular area bounded by Watergate Street on the South, the city wall on the West, the backs of the houses in Linen Hall Street on the East, and a line parallel with, and slightly South of, Bedward Row on the North. Documentary sources indicate that the church had an aisleless quire, and nave with North and South aisles. There appears to have been a large transeptal chapel abutting the South aisle. A plan of the site in the Randle Holmes MSS in the British Museum depicts the claustral complex North of the church, and separated from it. The plan shows a large separation between the church and cloister, which may be an exaggeration, or may show a lesser cloister after demolition of a greater cloister. It is clear from the post-dissolution inventory that in either case, the cloister did not abut the church. Additionally, there was a guesthouse North or West of the claustral complex. The principal gateway lay immediately to the North of where the present 3-9 Linen Hall Street now stand. The only surviving parts of the friary buildings remaining (in the 1960's) is a section of the precinct wall on the East, forming the rear boundary of the houses on the West side of Linen Hall Street. (5) Ward suggests that there were indeed two cloisters, a small cloister with the chapter house and guest house in the East and West ranges. The lesser cloister, a much larger range adjoined to the North, and contained the kitchen, frater, infirmary, and other buildings. Two North-South drains excavated in the 1920's apparently show this arrangement. (7)

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