The following information has been collated by the
Victoria County History Lutterworth Group.
In the autumn of 1911 the old Bank House in Bank Street Lutterworth received some unusual new tenants, they were a Rev. Mother and some sisters of a small community of nuns from the Order of Poor Clares. The Poor Clares are a religious order consisting of autonomous houses, and this community came from a convent in Nantes western France which was founded in the fifteenth century. The convent was destroyed during the French Revolution but the order was re-founded in Nantes in 1859.
After the French elections in 1902 the new administration under Emil Combes applied strict anti-clerical laws ruthlessly, 81 congregations of women and 54 of men were dissolved and between 30,000 and 60,000 priests and nuns were exiled. This group first arrived in England in 1904 and were housed at Bagshot, but then moved to Lutterworth a few years later where they were welcomed. As Lutterworth is in the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham they would have to have obtained the permission of the Bishop of Nottingham to set up a convent.
There were about fifteen nuns from the enclosed order and four or five extern sisters whose chief occupation was begging, within the Diocese, for the support of their community. The enclosed nuns worked in the garden which was surrounded by a high wall to prevent them being overlooked.
They stayed until 1925 when they probably moved back to Nantes as there is no record of Poor Clares from Nantes in England now, but a convent was re-founded and there was a community of Poor Clares in Nantes until recently.
After they left it is reported that all the fireplaces had been boarded up.
Richard Elkington of Shawell by will dated 1607 gave £50 to be held in trust by the Corporation of Leicester, the interest of which to be given to the parson and churchwardens of Lutterworth to give to five poor tradesmen each year.
A similar amount was left to St. Martin’s parish in Leicester. This charitable donation either from the neglect of the trustees or from some other cause does not appear to have been ever carried into effect
In 1639 the Corporation, using this money together with £41 of their own, totalling £141, purchased some property in Leicester.
In 1807 the Corporation tried to sell this property but their clerk noticed that they did not own it solely, in fact they only owned two sevenths of it.
In consequence this case went to the Court of Chancery which made a decree in 1825 ordering that the property be sold and the proceeds invested and divided between the Corporation – two sevenths, St. Martins and Lutterworth – five sevenths. The situation was finally resolved and in 1875 Lutterworth Parish Officers received a sum of £1286.9.7. as their share of the charity, part of this went towards building the Lutterworth Grammar School and £660.17s,5d left invested.