Recent research suggests that this building is one of the earliest surviving Franciscan friary churches in Europe and the oldest friary building in England.
It was built as part of the friary, probably the church, in the early 13th century with a stone-vaulted first floor added later in the century. The friary precinct occupied a large site, extending south to north from either the River Witham or Greyfriars Passage to Silver Street, with Free School Lane on the west and, on the east, the line of the Roman defences running down the west side of Broadgate.
Other friary buildings including the kitchen, refectory and dormitory were excavated in the 1990s when the Central Library was redeveloped.
Like many survivors of the Dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century, it has had many uses.