Minster, from the Anglo-Saxon mynster, was the name for a monastery and used for churches served by monks during seventh and eighth centuries, when Christianity was being spread among the Anglo-Saxon population. Minsters were founded where there was a noble or royal residence, as the conversion of the noble would be followed by that of his court and the local populace. Priests from the minster then went into the surrounding areas to convert or to minister to people.
At the Reformation most monasteries were abolished, but the name continued in use for York Minster and a few others such as Southwell and Wimborne, and for former minsters at Beverley and Iwerne Minster. The term minster is largely historic, but has been revived as a title for some large town parish churches, including Dewsbury, Halifax and Rotherham.