The British Province of Carmelite Friars
Carmel in Britain
The brothers were first brought to Britain in 1242 by returning crusaders; arriving first at Hulne in the north east of England and then, later in the same year, at Aylesford in the south. At that time we were still a group of hermits but, following a historic meeting (General Chapter) held in Aylesford in 1247, we became part of the newly formed movement of Friars. From England the Order soon spread to Scotland and also to Ireland. At its height before the Reformation there were more than 1000 friars England in many communities. Carmelites were pastors and theologians, confessors to kings and servants of the poor. Our presence disappeared in 1538 with the Reformation. The friars were dispersed and the houses were either desecrated and destroyed or handed out as rewards by the Crown. The last active friar we know of, George Rayner, died for the Faith in chains (in odium fidei) in York prison during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. [A number of studies and further information on the medieval province can be found at the Carmelite Studies section of the website.]
In the centuries following the Reformation a number of unsuccessful attempts were made to re-establish the Order in England. It was in the spirit of the prophet Elijah that two Irish Carmelites came to England in 1925 and then to Wales. The efforts of these friars and those who followed them led to the formation of a General Commisariate in 1952. On September 12th 1969 the ancient province of England and Wales again became a reality under the title of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Fr. Kilian Lynch, O.Carm. as the first Provincial of the restored mediaeval Province.
Seventy years on the Carmelites continue form praying communities and to minister to the needs of God's people in England, Scotland and Wales. We serve in parishes, as chaplains in hospitals, prisons, universities and schools; as retreat directors and in centres where people gather on pilgrimage. Depending on our unique talent and training and the needs of a particular time and place, we, Carmelites, can be found in a variety of settings. Like Elijah the prophet and the founders of our province before us, we remain ordinary people witnessing to an extraordinary reality - God's abiding presence and God's love for every human person!
We presently have communities in: Aylesford, East Finchley, Faversham, Llanelli, Walworth and York.