Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Woodchester's Poor Clares are moving from Gloucestershire to Devon

Here is some sad news from today's Gloucestershire Echo
Chapter closes on convent history as nuns leave area:

Nuns are preparing to leave an historic Gloucestershire convent after 150 years.
Dwindling numbers mean the enclosed order of Poor Clares is moving from South Woodchester to Devon.
Founded by 16 volunteers in a farmhouse in 1860, there was still a full complement of 30 sisters in 1950 but by 1980 there were 25 and by 2000, 14 nuns.
Today there are five.
The convent had an orphanage until 1921 and was well known for making altar breads, or communion wafers, for more than 200 churches and convents.
Abbess Sister Irene Joseph said moving away was not easy but the convent, near Stroud, was too large for the remaining nuns.
The group will move to another Poor Clare convent in Lynton.
"We feel we are called to a particular house," she said.
"There are 10 Poor Clare houses now and we are one big family.
"When I came here, the peace here was a calling from God. I thought I would end my days here.
"It is a huge wrench but I believe for some reason it is an intervention from God."
Sister Mary Therese was 24 when she arrived in 1950 as a novice and will turn 85 this year.
"I have always been happy here, even when I was miserable," she said. Parishioners are sad to see the sisters go.
"They don't go out to the world but they welcome the world in," said Deborah Everton-Wallach, who attends daily mass there.
"They have had a profound effect on my life – that they live a simple and fulfilling lives says something."
The future of grade II-listed building, set in 25 acres, is undecided.

How sad. But the large building they live in, with its typical Cotswolds complexity of design, must be a nightmare for just five nuns to maintain. A real burden, both financial and physical. It seems to have been a realistic and inevitable decision.

Photograph courtesy of

No comments: