COVID-19 UPDATE In line with current government advice, we are keeping our lodges closed until at least 30 June. For bookings after 1 July, Please contact Sr Laurentia at Tel: 01347 868931 Shielding requirements at the abbey mean that, sadly, parlours and bookshop have to remain closed until further notice. The bookshop is still operating a mail order service and Sr Benedicta would be delighted to hear from you: Tel: 01347 868927 We await instructions from the diocese about when we might re-open the church for visitors but again shielding will have to be factored into any decisions made. Meanwhile, please be assured of our prayers at this testing time and please do continue to send prayer requests via or the Prayer Page of the website. The telephone is checked frequently so do leave a message if you wish to get in touch or need to speak with someone.

Sunday VII Easter

The Gospel today from Ch 17 of St John speaks of 'glory' and Jesus prays to the Father for that 'glory' he had with the Father before the world was. This brought to mind the familiar doxology which we pray at the end of psalms so often:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Before creation the Blessed Trinity shared their life in constant giving. The overflowing love between them meant that nothing was held onto, and all was self-emptying. Jesus says: 'all I have is yours, and all you have is mine'. Creation is the abundance of Life poured out to be shared by all that has been made.

'Glory' is 'fullness' as the Prologue to St John puts it: 'Of his fullness we have all received. . .' .  In the Old Testament the glory of God filled the Temple, just as St Paul says that the fullness of the deity dwelt in Christ bodily. We are all the 'temples' of God, so we should all be filled with the glory of God, which is nothing else than the outpouring of what we have received: the self-emptying exemplified in Christ.

These thoughts are sketchy but I hope may start you thinking!

Sr Raphael, 24 May 2020


On Primroses and Tides: A Reflection for Eastertide and Ascensiontid
The daffodils at the lodges have been spectacular this year, giving us a real daffodil Easter, though it's been a pity not to be able to share them with visitors to the lodges in the current crisis. Now they have been replaced by a sea of bluebells which is scarcely less lovely. But the humble primrose, harbinger to each of these great flowerings, can still be seen keeping close to the ground: 'Easter's primrose tide of praise', in the words of Sir John Betjeman ('Septuagesima: To Easter's Primrose Tide of Praise').

This phrase conjures up for me the particular quality of Eastertide, a time which combines great power and strength around the Resurrection - remember the earthquakes on Good Friday and Easter day (Matthew 27: 31; 28: 2) and the homely appearances of the Risen Jesus, cooking, eating and walking with his disciples (Luke 24; John 21). And all wound round with wonder as he appears and disappears at will, more randomly than any tide but with a similar yet surpassing mysteriousness.

As the earlier liturgical seasons of Christmastide and Epiphanytide, this one draws us into the life of Christ but even more powerfully. This Easter tide obliterates mankind's sins, making all things as new as a shoreline scoured by the highest spring waves. Week by week we have witnessed the new energy of Christ's life being unleashed in the first Christian community in Acts; daily we have heard the Risen Lord gently teaching the import of his unstoppable love in dying and rising for us: remain in my love; if you love me you will keep my commandments; the one who keeps my commandments will be the one who loves me, feed my lambs, feed my sheep (John 15: 9; 14:15, 21; 21:16,17).

And what of the primrose?
A close look at the primrose flower reveals a catechesis of Easter: five delicate, pale lemon petals, each toothed into the shape of a heart recalling the five wounds of Christ. The base of each petal looks as if it has been dipped in gold leaf and, as these five tips meet together at the centre of the flower, they form a bright, golden five-pointed star. Earth meets heaven in a primrose tide of praise!

As Eastertide flows into Ascensiontide, let's remember this primrose in all its simplicity and power, and allow ourselves to be drawn upwards into the swelling tide of God's relentless love. Alleluia!
                                                                                                                 Sr Laurentia




Weds 4 Easter: 6 May

You have probably had times when, like me, you have envied the clarity with which Saul and Barnabas discerned their vocation - the Holy Spirit himself telling the whole community that they are to be set apart for the work to which they were called. Having said that the work itself wasn't exactly easy, and a strong sense of vocation would have helped carry them through many trials.

In the Gospel we hear Jesus declare himself to be 'the light who has come into the world'. In fact, an alternative to the Gospel acclamation we sang today is 'I am the light of the world, anyone who follows me will have the light of life'. We are used to the convenience of electric light at the flick of a switch. When there is a prolonged power cut, and we are trying to go do things in our cells by torch-light, we are reminded of the deep meaning of Christ as a light to our darkness, that precious light that we must draw near to and cherish. The candles we carry and light at the Easter Vigil are a reminder too of this.

Christ is the light who shows us the Father, the one who sent him. In our Lauds hymn we sang 'Glory crowns creations Lord with light from light unseen'. What is this light unseen? We are invited to use Christ as our light to gaze into this mystery which is bright beyond all telling.
Sr Therese

4 May 2020    Feast of the English & Welsh Martyrs

 Acts 7: 55-60  &  Matthew 10:17-20

St Stephen seems to be following me around! We keep hearing about Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit.  Earlier in Acts we read The synagogue could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.

Today we celebrate the canonised and beatified martyrs of England & Wales of the 16
th and 17th
centuries. The most well-known of these are the Forty Martyrs of England & Wales.

As a child I went to the little primary school attached to our parish church in Neston. We skipped back and forth through the graveyard as we went between our classrooms and the church, several times a day. I am not sure what Ofsted would make of it all today! It was definitely a Catholic education in a very unfussy and everyday way. One of the things that comes to my mind when we celebrate this feast is how, at least once a day, we had a prayer for the canonization of these Forty Martyrs. They were part of our lives even though most of us would have been pushed to tell you much about them, apart from one.

Our parish was within what would have been the mission field of St John Plessington. He was originally from Lancashire; did his studies at St Omer, then came back and worked in the Chester area, and along the Wirral. No doubt he ventured into North Wales and the shrine of St Winefride at Holywell. He had a base at Puddington, in my parish, where he was tutor to the Stanley Massey family. It was here that he was caught.  After his martyrdom at Broughton outside Chester he was thought to be buried at Burton, a few miles down the road from Neston. In the 1960s this was disproved. His vestments are kept on display at St Winefride's, and are worn occasionally. The last time I know of was at a Mass celebrated at Puddington Hall by Fr Peter Phillips on St John's feast in July.

Why this detour? Our Forty Martyrs, plus the many others from that time recognised as blessed by the Church, as indeed all the saints, were individuals. Each had their own story, belonged to a family, to a parish, a location. In other words, they were just like us. Each was filled, like St Stephen, with the Holy Spirit and bore witness to Christ. They would have known fear and anxiety, and yet we know they spoke fearlessly: the Spirit of their Father was speaking in them. Many of these martyrs had a great wit, a lightness of heart and spirit, as shown by our monk martyrs.

They have much to teach us at this time, when people of all denominations and beliefs are unable to gather in places of public worship. Now, as in the 16
th and 17th
centuries, blessings and graces will flow from all of this. We need to surrender ourselves to the Lord, as they did.

We should make our own the prayer that Stephen uttered at his death, which our martyrs also prayed, those words of Christ which we sang in the response to the psalm and pray each night at Compline : Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my Spirit. And let us not forget the end of Psalm 30: Be strong, let your heart take courage, all who hope in the Lord.

 Sr Benedicta





News & Photo Archive

Summer News

27 June 2019, Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sr Marian Sweeting-Hempsall made her Solemn Profession of Vows and thus became a full member of the Stanbrook community. 

17 July, on the completion of Dame Andrea Savage's 12-year term of office, Dame Anna Brennan was elected the new abbess of our monastery. 

19 July, we celebrated the Requiem Mass of Dame Agatha Backhouse (1937-2019) who had died peacefully at Apley Grange, Harrogate, on 12 July. R. I. P.

News of a collaborative venture between our own Sr Philippa and Mirfield's Fr Nicolas Stebbing. 

These two veteran monastics share their vast experience of monastic life in a way that should be helpful to all Christians. 'Making space for God: an invitation', published by Mirfield. ISBN 978-0-902834-48-9. �6.50. Available via Stanbrook Abbey bookshop: A poem of D. Laurentia's, 'Mary Reflects', formed part of the programme of 'Carols from King's' on BBC 2 on Christmas Eve 2018. 

Links below: 

The video download (just as an fyi): 

The pdf of the booklet:

Photographs of Stanbrook.

Aerial footage of Stanbrook Abbey
Made by students of the Kent School of Architecture

The monastery won a national RIBA award in June 2016.

In November 2016 we were awarded the Presidents' Award for new church buildings.

The abbey church has also won an award from the Wood Trust for 'excellence in architecture and product design in the world's only sustainable material.'

For an article about Stanbrook in the Yorkshire Post April 2016, please click on the link below:


Deo Gratias! The abbey church was duly and solemnly dedicated by the Right Revd Terence Patrick Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough, to much rejoicing.
For a full photographic record, please click here


The inaugural Mass in the new Abbey Church took place on Sunday 26 April 2015, thanks be to God and thanks to all our kind benefactors.
Read more by clicking here

 Right: Choir of the new Abbey Church (still incomplete)
Below: Inaugural Mass: the Gospel is proclaimed at the ambo

 Archive: The project since the start of the build:

Click here for Blessing of the East Wing site 6 February 2014
Deo gratias, building work began February 2014
Click here for March 2014 update

Work in progress, Spring 2015

Inside the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

March 2015
Much activity inside the church which it is
hoped will be finished by the end of April.
So one more Easter in the Chapter House...

August 2015, the new chairs for guests arrive! Many of these have been sponsored by kind benefactors.

West-facing view of the church

East-facing view of the church