The stories of monastic impropriety, vice and excess that were to be collected by [[Thomas Cromwell]]'s visitors may have been biased and exaggerated. Nevertheless, the religious houses of England and Wales—with the notable exceptions of those of the [[Carthusian]]s, the Observant [[Franciscan]]s, and the [[Bridgettine]] nuns and monks—had long ceased to play a leading role in the spiritual life of the country, and other than in these three orders, observance of strict monastic rules was partial at best.ref The exceptional spiritual discipline of the Carthusian, Observant Franciscan and Bridgettine orders had, over the previous century, resulted in their being singled out for royal favour; in particular with houses benefitting from endowments confiscated by the Crown from the suppressed alien priories; otherwise in this latter period, donations and legacies had tended to go instead towards parish churches, university colleges, grammar schools and collegiate churches, which suggests greater public approbation of such purposes. Levels of monastic debt were increasing, and average numbers of professed religious were falling;ref albeit that the monasteries did continue to attract recruits right up to the end. Only a few monks and nuns lived in conspicuous luxury, but most were very comfortably fed and housed by the standards of the time, and few any longer set standards of ascetic piety or religious observance.ref Only a minority of houses could now support the twelve or thirteen professed religious usually regarded as the minimum necessary to maintain the full [[Canonical hours]] of the . Even in houses with adequate numbers, the regular obligations of communal eating and shared living had not been fully enforced for centuries, as communities tended to sub-divide into a number of distinct familiae. In most larger houses, the full observance of the Canonical Hours had become the task of a sub-group of 'Cloister Monks', such that the majority of the professed members of the house were freed to conduct their business and live much of their lives in the secular world. Extensive monastic complexes dominated English towns of any size, but most were less than half full.