An Abbey is a christian monastery or convent, under the government of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.
A Priory is a house of men or women under religious vows headed by a prior or prioress. Priories may be houses of mendicant friars or religious sisters, or monasteries of monks or nuns.
A Friary is the residence of friars dating from the 12th century. The various orders of friars were supported by the local mediaeval people, who were impressed by their commitment to genuine poverty and to preaching. Because friars depended not on revenue from lands but from charitable donations they preferred to settle in towns and cities.