Mucknell Abbey

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Mucknell Abbey is an Anglican Benedictine monastery in Worcestershire, England. The community, which formerly lived at Burford, has both male and female members. Its formal legal name is The Society of the Salutation of Mary the Virgin. [1]

Worcestershire County of England

Worcestershire is a county in the West Midlands of England.



The present abbey was previously a farm and was purchased by the community after they had sold their former house at Burford Priory, a Grade I listed building, which was highly impractical both to maintain and also for the elderly members of the community. Between the sale of the house at Burford in 2008 and the completion of Mucknell Abbey in late 2010, the community lived in rented accommodation near Evesham.

Burford Priory Country house in Oxfordshire

Burford Priory is a Grade I listed country house and former priory at Burford in West Oxfordshire, England owned by Elizabeth Murdoch, daughter of Rupert Murdoch, together with Matthew Freud.


The new monastery is on the site of a derelict farm (Mucknell Farm). When the community purchased the site, the buildings were shells. The former farmhouse was unable to be redeveloped and was demolished to make way for a new community block on the south side of the courtyard. Within the community building are the cells, the community room (recreation space), the laundry, and several workrooms. The remaining three sides of the courtyard have been converted into a Guest Wing (North-west corner), a Refectory (West side), and a Library, Chapter Room and general office (East side and North-east corner).

Refectory dining room, especially in monasteries, boarding schools, and academic institutions

A refectory is a dining room, especially in monasteries, boarding schools, and academic institutions. One of the places the term is most often used today is in graduate seminaries. It derives from the Latin reficere "to remake or restore," via Late Latin refectorium, which means "a place one goes to be restored".

Chapter house building or room that is part of a cathedral, monastery or collegiate church in which larger meetings are held

A chapter house or chapterhouse is a building or room that is part of a cathedral, monastery or collegiate church in which larger meetings are held. When attached to a cathedral, the cathedral chapter meets there. In monasteries, the whole community often met there daily for readings and to hear the abbot or senior monks talk. When attached to a collegiate church, the dean, prebendaries and canons of the college meet there. The rooms may also be used for other meetings of various sorts; in medieval times monarchs on tour in their territory would often take them over for their meetings and audiences. Synods, ecclesiastical courts and similar meetings often took place in chapter houses.

A new Oratory was built in the centre of the courtyard and is accessible both from the courtyard and from the Monastic Enclosure. The foundation stone of the Oratory was laid by the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, on 13 May 2010 and the Oratory was dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, on 25 March 2011. [2]

In the canon law of the Catholic Church, an oratory is a place which is set aside by permission of an ordinary for divine worship, for the convenience of some community or group of the faithful who assemble there, but to which other members of the faithful may have access with the consent of the competent superior. The word "oratory" comes from the Latin verb orare, to pray.

Bishop of Worcester Diocesan bishop in the Church of England

The Bishop of Worcester is the head of the Church of England Diocese of Worcester in the Province of Canterbury, England.

John Inge Bishop of Worcester; Bishop of Huntingdon

John Geoffrey Inge is a bishop in the Church of England. He is currently the Bishop of Worcester in the Diocese of Worcester. From 2003 to 2008, he was Bishop of Huntingdon, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Ely.


A large part of the ethos of the community is ecological sustainability. To this end, the new abbey was built with numerous features to enable and assist sustainable living. [3] The buildings feature high grade insulation to minimise heat loss; the heating is powered by a biomass fuelled boiler. [4] Electrical power is provided in part by photovoltaic panels, [5] and solar water heating panels [6] reduce the use of the boiler during the summer months. In addition to harnessing solar energy, the new buildings also harvest rain water, which is stored in a 5000 litre tank and is used to flush the lavatories and water the kitchen garden; there is a further 45000 litres available for fire-fighting. The wastewater from the site is treated in a bio-digester and consequently the buildings are not connected to the sewage network. [7] Much of the community's vegetables are grown onsite in the kitchen garden, [8] and once the orchard [9] has developed, it will further reduce the need to buy in fruits and vegetables. Both the kitchen garden and orchard are managed using eco-friendly means.

Biomass Biological material used as a renewable energy source

Biomass is plant or animal material used for energy production, or in various industrial processes as raw material for a range of products. It can be purposely grown energy crops, wood or forest residues, waste from food crops, horticulture, food processing, animal farming, or human waste from sewage plants.

Solar water heating conversion of sunlight into renewable energy for water heating using a solar thermal collector

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Kitchen garden space separate from the rest of the residential garden

Kailyard redirects here. For the grouping of Scottish literature see Kailyard school

The Community

The community is made up of professed monks and nuns, novices, and 'alongsiders'. Alongsiders live with the community [10] for a variety of reasons, ranging from exploring a possible monastic vocation, to a simple desire to experience the monastic life for a while. Alongsiders stay with the community for between one and twelve months and while living alongside are expected to follow the community's timetable and participate in its work.

The Timetable

In common with other religious orders, the primary work of the community at Mucknell Abbey is the work of God, that is to say, prayer. During the day the community come together six times to sing the Offices and also for Holy Communion. Work periods are between Terce and Holy Communion in the morning and between None and Vespers in the afternoon. After Compline the community observe Greater Silence through the night until the end of Terce the following morning. There is also solitude time allocated during the day; in the morning between the offices, and in the afternoon between Vespers and supper. On Thursdays, the community normally meet for corporate Lectio Divina which is followed by corporate tea. Corporate tea affords the community an opportunity to engage in conversation which otherwise is scarce in the monastic life.

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  1. See web page footnote.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-14. Retrieved 2011-07-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Coordinates: 52°09′35″N2°08′20″W / 52.1596°N 2.1388°W / 52.1596; -2.1388