Whalley Hermitage

A Hermitage (which basically is just a room) was formed in Whalley Abbey for the purpose of carrying out daily prayers for the soul of Henry VI, who was also the Duke of Lancaster. The Abbot found that there were not enough monks to spare for this task and so installed a nun by the name of Isola of Hetton, to act as a recluse.

She was attended by two maid servants and her entire life was devoted to praying for the soul of the King. The Abbey supplied food and drink, and as tea was not known in England at that time, in its place was a regular supply of ale - about three pints a day for each of the three persons.

After about two years, the Abbot found it necessary to dissolve the Hermitage owing to the "irregular and unsatisfactory conduct of the recluses". One of the attendants and the nun, were found pregnant and the Abbey was relieved from supplying them with sustenance.

You may ask why all this praying could not be carried out by the local priest in the Parish Church? Well the answer was size, the bigger the Church the harder it was for the Abbot to control what happened.