About Us

Benedictines at Turvey

 

Who used to live here?

This is a puzzle. The land may once have been owned by a religious house, possibly the Benedictine Priory of St. Neot’s or the Augustinian Abbey of St. James Northampton. There are no real clues until 1669 when the Brand family is first recorded in the parish register. They were known to be a Catholic family and tenants of the Earl of Peterborough (Lord Mordaunt). The last Brand, Winifred, died in 1745, and the estate was sold in 1786 to Charles Higgins. The Higgins family was responsible for much of the present character of the buildings, the garden and Abbey Park. Tenants of the Higgins family remained until 1955 when the Abbey was bought by the late Mr. Rupert Allen. Turvey Abbey was eventually acquired by Olivetan Benedictine nuns in 1980, and the adjacent mews property by the Olivetan monks.

 

Who lives here now?

The Abbey is occupied by the nuns and is known as the Priory of Our Lady of Peace, while the former stables are now occupied by the monks and known as the Monastery of Christ Our Saviour. The monks are Olivetan Benedictines, the nuns are affiliated to the Olivetan congregation. The Olivetan congregation was first established in the fourteenth century by the Saint Bernard Tolomei at Monte Oliveto in Italy. Dom Constantine Bosschaerts established a small foundation of nuns and monks at Cockfosters in North London in 1936, and from here all of the nuns, led by Mother Lucia Antonissen, and some of the monks, led by Dom Edmund Jones, came to Turvey in 1980.

 

What do we do?

The move to Turvey was, and is, an attempt to return to a more contemplative way of life – without the demands of a school or parish – and more faithful living out of the Rule of St. Benedict. The nuns and monks are seeking God through a life of prayer and work based on the vows of conversion of life, stability and obedience. The prayer is centred on the Celebration of the Mass and the Divine Office which takes place in the chapel each and every day. The work is very varied and encompasses all the activities one would expect in running a house and a home as well as a busy retreat programme. There is a special emphasis here on continuing, the ecumenical work begun by Dom Constantine. His motto of ‘Vita et Pax’ (Life and Peace) sums up well both the outward and inward-looking aspects of our vocation here.