Jefferson Hall, our home from 1955 to 2009
The family home of Mother Mary of Saint-John Vavasour had been Hazlewood Castle near Tadcaster. In the 1970s Rt. Rev. William Wheeler, the Bishop of Leeds, encouraged the Carmelite friars to form a community and retreat house at the Castle, which remained until 1995. He also wanted a community of Carmelite nuns within his diocese, thus in 1969, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, seven sisters from Thicket made a foundation at Wood Hall near Wetherby, which had been the dower house of Hazlewood.
As the new millennium dawned it became clear to us nuns at Thicket that the old Victorian house we lived in was becoming increasingly unsuitable; the cost of renovating and updating the building was completely beyond the means of the community. We decided that we did not want to leave the area, but knew that we should move whilst we had the energy and ability to do so.
After a long period of prayer, discussion and discernment a creative solution was found. The old house and part of the surrounding land was sold as a private residence, and we could then build a new monastery on the land we had retained.
We retained some of our own land to build the new monastery, within the walls of what had been the Victorian vegetable garden. The pear trees along the eastern curved wall behind the chapel are over 150 years old. The ruins you see as you enter the walled garden belonged to an early 18th-century house on the site, which is thought to have been destroyed by a fire. The surviving South-West corner was later incorporated into the vegetable garden wall.
A special service to inaugurate the bell of the new monastery in 2009
A cross on the lawn marks the burial site of the bones of the Cistercian nuns who lived in the original Thicket Priory, a medieval foundation dating from 1180, which was dissolved at the Reformation. We discovered after building our new monastery for fifteen sisters that the Cistercian monastery had choir stall for fifteen sisters. They numbered twelve at the time of the Dissolution, and in 2009 when we took possession of our new monastery building, our community also numbered twelve.
A stained glass window we took from the old chapel to the new.
2015 seemed like an auspicious year in which to have the chapel of the new monastery formally blessed by the Bishop of Middlesbrough, Rt. Rev. Terence Drainey. 2015 was the 5th centenary of the birth of Saint Teresa, the Year of Consecrated Life within the Catholic Church, and the 60th anniversary of the move from Devon to Yorkshire.
The bishop anointing the walls of the chapel with the oil of chrism.
We have made a video about our move from the old monastery into the new building. To watch it, please click on the play (arrow) button on the frame below.
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