Aerial view of Aylesford Priory
The Origins of Aylesford
Statue of Our Lady and the infant Christ at the entrance to Aylesford Priory.
Five years later Aylesford hosted a General Chapter (meeting) of Carmelites from across Europe. The hermits took decisions at that Chapter which led them to adopt the lifestyle of mendicant friars at the service of Church and Society. So fundamental was this decision to the future development of the Carmelite Order that Aylesford was henceforth revered as a spiritual epicentre, sometimes nicknamed "the second Carmel". Several leading figures of the medieval Order were associated with the priory.
A friar at prayer in the medieval Prior's Hall.
Aylesford has many beautifully restored medieval buildings.
A painting by Adam Kossowski in the Prior's Hall
depicting the return of the Carmelites in 1949.
Many of the medieval buildings have been restored and a new open-air church has been built on the site of the medieval chapel.
"The Friars" seen from the River Medway.
Friars honouring the Blessed Virgin Mary during their "Saturday Station" prayer.
Retreats and Pilgrimages
The two main public ministries at Aylesford are that of a pilgrimage and retreat centre. You can download the programmes for pilgrimages, retreats and faith-sharing groups (in PDF format) by clicking on the links below:
- "The Friars" Retreats Programme 2018
- "The Friars" Pilgrimages Programme 2018
- "The Friars" Pilgrimages Programme 2019
Pilgrims at prayer in front of the main shrine at Aylesford.
The Cloister Chapel.
As well as pilgrimage and retreat ministry, members of the Carmelite friar community is involved in other kinds of service; one brother is chaplain to the local prison and others are often involved in helping out the local parishes and giving spiritual input.
The Priory's medieval watergate.
The statue of Our Lady of the Assumption at the main shrine.
In addition to the friars, Aylesford Priory is the home to a variety of Carmelite vocations. A large Chapter of the Carmelite Third Order meets monthly at The Friars, and the Third Order Information Centre (TOIC) helps respond to enquiries about the Lay Carmelite vocation. Aylesford is also the spiritual home of The Leaven, a Secular Institute affiliated to the Carmelite Order.
Aylesford hosts popular Christmas and Summer Fayres.
The Cloister Chapel.
The Priory houses the Carmelite Provincial Library which can be consulted by visiting scholars by previous arrangement, as well as the Pilgrims' Library which is open to all in the medieval Pilgrims' Hall.
The Priory seen from the River Medway.
A friar visiting the Province Cemetery at Aylesford.
The bookshop and tea room in one of the ancient barns.
For a general publicity leaflet about Aylesford Priory (in PDF format) please click here.
The Carmelite community at Aylesford keeps in touch with its many friends and supporters through the quarterly Pilgrims' Newsletter. To be added to the mailing list for Pilgrims' Newsletter, please email your contact details to the Newsletter Office by clicking here. You can read recent editions of Pilgrims' Newsletter (in PDF format) by clicking here
For a full programme of events click here
Community Website and Blog
You can visit the Aylesford Community blog by clicking here.
Click here to visit the Aylesford page in our Heritage & Archive section.