Anchorites

An anchorite was a hermit who lived in a cell attached to a church. The cell was completely sealed except for a small window into the church, and perhaps one outside. The anchorite/anchoress was seen as a holy person, and became a central figure in the community, giving advice and praying with people who came to the window. One of the most famous anchoresses was Julian of Norwich, but there were many others as well. The Ancrene Wisse (or Ancrene Riwle) was a middle English document that outlined the rule for the anchoress. It was written either by an Augustinian canon or a Dominican friar.