Nuns’ secret lives revealed in never-before-seen West Midlands footage

Beyond Solihull, Knowle and Dorridge, and out into the Warwickshire countryside, is The Convent – a small gated development next to a church of St Francis of Assisi.

The name is no accident – nuns occupied Baddesley Clinton’s convent just 11 years ago.

Before being a chic country accommodation, it was the convent of the Poor Clares. Like many across the country, declining interest in religion and the way of life eventually put an end to the convent.

Three decades ago, you would have found 27 nuns there, all praying, reading, sewing and cultivating – when it closed in 2011, only four remained.

Photographer Bob Moore, former president of the Royal Photographic Society, visited the convent in the late 1970s to get a glimpse of a way of life rarely seen today.

You can see his album of unpublished photos by clicking on the gallery below.

The Poor Clare nuns arrived in the region in 1850, from Bruges in Belgium, in the form of six sisters.

Their convent was built for them in 1870 and, apart from a few additions and modifications, it lasted for over a century.

Sister Felicity, the Reverend Mother Abbess, told the Birmingham Post in 2011: “160 years is a long time for a community to be in one place. A normal life cycle of a community is 100 years and it usually closes after 100 years.

“We are pilgrims, so we are called to change.”

The Poor Clare nuns had close ties to John Henry Newman, a saint who played an important role in the return of Catholicism to England after centuries of Anglican rule.

He brought them gifts and provisions to help them continue their work in the mid-19th century, and gave them his purple skullcap to keep after his death.

Furniture and other items from the convent are long gone, having been sold or auctioned off when it closed.

The money will have been used to help the sisters move elsewhere.

There aren’t many convents left, and their lifestyles were never very public at first – but Bob Moore’s never-before-seen photos shine a light on a lifestyle most of us would never dream of.

Have you ever met a nun? Would you ever try the lifestyle? Comment below or talk to us on social media.

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