Saint Francis of Assisi founded several Franciscan orders in Italy before his death in 1226. The Greyfriars Abbey was established in 1240 by an Anglo-Norman knight named Sir Hugh Purcell. The friars derived their name from the gray wool robes they wore as a sign of their poverty and humility. The 82 foot tower was added to the French Church during the late 15th century. After the priory and church were confiscated by King Henry VIII in 1540, it became an almshouse called the Holy Ghost Hospital.