THE Poor Clares convent in Woodchester is to close its doors for good next month a year after it celebrated 150 years of service to the community.

The five remaining sisters will join an affiliated Poor Clare Community in Lynton, North Devon and the building in Convent Lane will be sold.

"We visited Lynton in September for their centenary, as we are affiliated with them," said Mother Irene, who has lived at the convent for 31 years.

"100 years ago, while their monastery was being built, the sisters trained at Woodchester and so their customs are similar to ours.

"It was clear when we were there, that this was the right discernment, and it has all fallen into place."

The convent is named after Italian noblewoman Clare, who wanted to imitate St Francis of Assisi and live a poor humble life for Jesus.

She ran away from home and in a little chapel outside Assisi, gave herself to God and was joined by her sister, living a very simple life.

Clare wrote her Rule of St Clare, being the first woman to write a rule, and it received papal approval two days before her death in 1253.

The Woodchester convent has developed a retreat and conference centre, however, the cost of maintaining the building has become unsustainable.

Sisters Mary Therese, Ruth Agnes, Susanna and Pemphero have lived in the convent for 61, 24, 11 and eight year respectively and say it will be a big wrench to leave.

"Usually a sister enters a convent expecting never to leave," said Sister Ruth Agnes.

"They would be there until they die, it is a big commitment."

"But we know it is what God wants and that comes before our own personal feelings."