This is part of a heritage trail around Belper, taking in some of the key historic areas, and talking about some of the people involved in the development of the town. You can find a map of the trail, and information on where to find interpretation boards containing more details on the town and its history at www.derwentvalleymills.org/belper.
The Convent of St Laurence
The Anglican order of the Sisters of St Laurence was founded in Norwich in 1874. In 1876, the Rev. Edward Hillyard came from St Laurence’s Church in Norwich to be the vicar of Christ Church in Belper. Within a year, the sisters also moved to Belper, and the convent built 1882-85 by local builders Wheeldon Brothers at a cost of £12,000. The land was purchased from the Strutt family.
The building included a chapel containing several stained-
glass windows and an organ in the west end. The sisters were engaged in raising orphans and teaching, and ran a school at the Convent. They later engaged in nursing and parochial visiting. In the 1990s, more time was given to retreat work after government legislation brought an end to residential care for the sick and elderly, known to the sisters as ‘the treasures’.
In September 2000, the sisters moved to Southwell, Nottinghamshire, occupying a listed building which had been converted for their needs. The Belper convent building was converted into flats, and houses built in the extensive grounds, in 2004.