Advent Update: Howton Grove Priory

efactory, Howton Grove Priory
Calefactory, Howton Grove Priory

Now that we have been here six months, we thought we should update you. As you can see from the above photo, the bookcases in the calefactory* are now complete, and the overspill (just a few thousand books . . .) consigned to every other available corner of the house and garages. We began to think we would never finish unpacking. In fact, there are still lots of boxes to be tackled, but none so urgent as the books.

The grandeur of the calefactory still takes us by surprise, as does waking up in a house that is dry and warm, but it is something we shall be very happy to get used to! Monasteries, of course, are never places just for those who live there but for everyone who comes to share its prayer and work. Indeed, the day after we had finished unpacking the calefactory books, we welcomed our first non-monastic group for a day of recollection and, by all accounts, they enjoyed the woodburner as much as we and Bro Duncan PBGV.

There is still much to do in house and gardens to ensure that we can run things as economically as possible, but we begin to feel that the monastery is taking shape and becoming known as a local resource as well as a cyber resource. Whenever time permits, we have been hard at work redesigning our websites, which will include lots of new features we have been longing to introduce. However, there are a number of challenges to overcome, not least financial, so we are not making any promises about when they will come online. It is frustrating, but there aren’t many monastic communities so dependent on their own work and the generosity of well-wishers for survival. (Cue here to say again how very grateful we are for all whose generosity helped us manage the deposit and bank loan for this house. Ed.) We continue to rely hugely on our wonderful Veilaudio volunteers to help us keep the audio books for the visually impaired going. Travelling between Hereford and Hendred is fine in summer, but we have found it more difficult during the winter months.

The best news we keep till last. After several nailbiting months, the UKBA has approved our sponsorship application for Denise’s visa. We’re not sure how long it will take for the visa itself to come through, and because of all the delays, Denise has had to take up another post which means she will not be free to join us until next year, but at least we have cleared the major hurdle; and because of Skype we are able to have regular transatlantic chats so we keep in touch.

*calefactory: the traditional name for the community room in which there is heating in winter, in our case a lovely woodburner stove.

More photos, Christmas lists and so on

If you would like to see more photos of the monastery, they are available on our Facebook page, where you will also find our Christmas wish-list and a direct link to our Charity Choice microsite, where donations can be made securely online (including Gift Aid if desired).


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8 thoughts on “Advent Update: Howton Grove Priory”

  1. As one of that lucky group who spent a day of recollection at the monastery I must say what a wonderful place it is! Peaceful, prayerful and welcoming – we felt enfolded in God’s love from the minute we arrived. Sister Catherine led us in two marvellous, deep meditations and Brother Duncan helped us relax into a warm, ‘furry’ sort of place! We are SO happy to have found such a super resource so close to us in Hereford, thank you Sisters.

    • Thank you, Shellie: they’ll never believe I wasn’t standing over you with a cudgel! Seriously, we loved having your group here for the day and are very pleased you all enjoyed your time with us.

  2. All wonderful news! So glad there’s light at the end of the tunnel regarding Denise.

    I only wish I lived nearer. May you have a truly blessed first Christmas in your new abode.

    Thanks be to God!

    With love and prayers,


    • Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen — his breed. It began as a joke, because some people are obsessed with having letters after their names, then it became a necessity because some people assumed he was human. He seems to think he is human, at times, but we can’t help that.

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