The Nunnaminster, later known as St Mary's Abbey, was founded by Queen Ealhswith, Alfred the Great's wife, in 903 as a Nunnery, and it became one of the foremost centres of learning and art in England. By the 16th century it was one of the largest religious houses in England with 102 people living there including 26 Nuns, officials, servants and children of lords and gentlemen who were there to be educated.
In November 1539 the Abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and most of the monastic buildings were demolished. The site was cleared for the City's Guildhall in 1873. Archaeological excavations were carried out in the 1980s and here we can see stone coffins which were discovered.