To revive the monastic life in Wessex, Alfred the Great encouraged the arts. He invited scholars from the Frankish lands and brought men of learning together from all over England. The result was a blossoming of the arts in manuscript illumination, embroidery, ivory and bone working, and enamelling. The sisters of the Nunnaminster were in the forefront of this movement. They made and embroidered St Cuthbert’s Stole, which is now at Durham, and it is said that they may have worked on the Bayeaux Tapestry.
After Ethelwold's reforms the nuns followed the rules of St Benedict. Suitable women could enter the nunnery at any time during their lives. Many of the novices were young girls who, after taking their vows, lead a cloistered life under a strict regime for the rest of their lives.
The regime called for an ordered day divided into eight canonical hours known as divine office. The normal day started at 2 am with Matins, followed successively by Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None (noon), Vespers and ended with Compline about 7 pm. there was also the Chapter Office, held in the Chapter House, where the business of the Abbey was discussed, followed by readings from the Rule of St Benedict. During the period between None and Vespers the nuns would fulfil other duties.