Colwich Abbey

I am just back from Colwich Abbey, where I led the nuns in their annual 8-day retreat (which included giving 14 conferences, about 35 minutes each!). The nuns are enclosed and, like Douai Abbey, are part of the English Benedictine Congregation (EBC).

It was founded in 1651 in Paris, a foundation of the monastery at Cambrai, which is now Stanbrook Abbey, recently moved to Yorkshire. They lived in relative poverty and, even though a totally English community, the Archbishop of Paris pressured them to leave the English Congregation, which they did in 1657. They suffered many hardships during the terrors that followed on from the French Revolution, and were initially imprisoned in their own monastery, until they were transferred to Vincennes. At times they lived in real fear of going to the guillotine. They were eventually released and returned to England, settling initially in Dorset, then Somerset,until finally settling at their present home in Staffordshire. They returned to the EBC in 1926, and soon afterwards were raised to the rank of an abbey, under the patronage of our Lady of Good Hope. The community at their daughter house at Atherstone, in Warwickshire, returned to Colwich in 1967. Their archives are a rich source for Dom Augustine Baker (1575-1641), the EBC’s foremost spiritual teacher.

Currently there are seven nuns and one dog in the monastery, although another dog will be joining soon! They maintain the sung office, largely in English though with parts in Latin. They are a warm and friendly community, with a wonderful tradition. Please keep them in your prayers, and direct any women discerning a monastic vocation in their direction, at least for a look.