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Minster is an honorific title given to particular churches in England, most famously York Minster in York, Westminster in London and Southwell Minster in Southwell. The term minster is first found in royal foundation charters of the 7th century. Although it corresponds to the Latin monasterium or monastery,<ref name="oed"/> it then designated any settlement of clergy living a communal life and endowed by charter with the obligation of maintaining the daily office of prayer. Widespread in 10th-century Anglo-Saxon England, minsters declined in importance with the systematic introduction of parishes and parish churches from the 11th century onwards. It continued as a title of dignity in later medieval England, for instances where a cathedral, monastery, collegiate church or parish church had originated with an Anglo-Saxon foundation. Eventually a minster came to refer more generally to "any large or important church, especially a collegiate or cathedral church".<ref name="oed"/> In the 21st century, the Church of England has designated additional minsters by bestowing the status on existing parish churches.


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