On Thursday I took this picture on Kirk Edge Road. That high wall was I believe built in the early 1900's. It surrounds a convent known as Carmel of the Holy Spirit.
The location is remote and illogical. It sits high up on a ridge between the valleys of The River Loxley and The River Don. Initially it wasn't a convent at all but an orphanage for lost or abandoned children under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church. Waifs and strays were brought here from the booming steel city of Sheffield with its belching furnaces and slum housing. The orphanage's remoteness meant it was a hard place for small children to run away from. They were cut off from everything they had known before.
The orphanage project did not last many years. This was partly because of issues with accessing water. Towards the end of the nineteenth century the place became an "industrial school" for girls but that venture only lasted ten years and by 1890 the site was disused and more or less forgotten.
However, around 1910, the Duke of Norfolk's sister who was herself a Carmelite nun, suggested that the place could be changed into a convent. Appropriate new building work was undertaken and the tall boundary wall was built. The first nuns came to live at the new convent in 1911 and it has remained a convent ever since.
Kirk Edge Convent or The Monastery of the Holy Spirit or Carmel of The Holy Spirit is a mysterious place. It is not open to the general public and the dozen or so nuns who occupy it are very rarely seen. By all accounts, they live an austere life - no doubt chanting a multitude of prayers and seeking to commune with their imaginary "God".
In researching the nunnery, I came across a blog created by an American nun originally from Texas who entered the order in late 2014 and as far as I or anyone else knows still resides within. She is known as Sister Mary Maravillas of Jesus and the Holy Face. The blog - created between June 2012 and November 2014 pre-empts her admission into Kirk Edge Convent as a fully-fledged nun. She called the blog, "Carmel, Garden of God". Here's a link to it.
I would love to pick her up in my car and take her for a pub lunch at "The Old Horns Inn" in High Bradfield just to see how her holy life is going in there. She'd probably order a half of "Farmer's Blonde" to wash down her steak pie and chips and we'd laugh about all the funny stuff that nuns get up to behind those walls. But I can't see such a meeting happening any time soon. After all, "God" wouldn't like it.
|Rare picture of Carmelite nuns inside Kirk Edge Convent|
Are they queuing for the loo?ReplyDelete
Possibly but is more likely that they are praying to "the one true Lord" (i.e. "God")Delete
Religions are just weird. As I have so often said, there has to be a religion gene. This gene allows people to transcend all logic and sense in order to accept the most bizarre rituals and beliefs. Thank god (not "God") I didn't get it.ReplyDelete
You got the grandma gene!Delete
You are strange. You take what isn't yours. You do service to big business charities but mock people who do no harm but have a belief.ReplyDelete
You voted for Jared. Not worth a tinkers toss is Jared but because he wore the red rosette you thought him worthy of a cross on a ballot paper.
You despise any spiritual belief or at the least are derogatory of it yet your "princess" wants a high church wedding. That's okay is it or are you all mouth and no trousers.
You have clearly given these matters a lot of thought and come up with a bunch of nasty conclusions. That says more about you than it does about me.Delete
No more than a couple of minutes. I can suss competent folk and quick. It's what I do.Delete
Why bother visiting this blog then? I will be very happy if you stay away forever. I don't need such nastiness in my world thank you very much.Delete
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Business once took me to that convent. A very strange experience - spoke to an unseen sister through a grille in a door. All rather sinister. She was polite but not terribly helpful.ReplyDelete
Were you selling Everest double-glazing Bel-Ami? Lord knows, they need it up there. Thanks for this interesting tidbit.Delete
I'm fascinated by convents and monasteries for some reason. One of my favorite books of all time is Rumer Godden's In This House of Brede. Godden spent three years living at the gate of an English Benedictine abbey (Abbey of Saint Cecelia at Ryde on the Isle of Wight) and the novel is loosely based on the lives of the sisters there. She also wrote The Black Narcissus.ReplyDelete
There's a monastery which is partially open to the public down near Charleston called Mepkin Abbey. I've been meaning to go visit for years and one day soon I'm going to. They have gorgeous gardens that I would love to tour.
As for the religious belief...that gene skipped me, too. I can't really believe in all that mythology, but they way people still practice their faith can be so interesting!
I agree. If you do visit Mepkin Abbey - best take Gregg with you in case they try to keep you there! They are probably constantly on the look out for new recruits.Delete
I think I'm safe...its a monastery for men (monks). I doubt there's anything about me that they'd have any interest in! ;)Delete
Surprisingly the "carmel" on the edge of Sheffield is also known as a "monastery" even though it is only for nuns. Quite confusing.Delete
Years ago, I read a book about Medieaval (spelling?) history. Among many other interesting things, it said that back then, monasteries were the only place a man who did not wish to fight could live, and learn. Before we had universities, we had monasteries. Before we had hospitals and orphanages, we had monasteries. The bizarre rituals and clothes serve their purpose: to keep the residents visibly apart from the rest of the world. If someone - like the woman who wrote that blog - believes in all that, and feels her life at the convent is what she wants and it makes her happy, so be it. I would not want it for myself, but I can partly understand the appeal of such a regulated and sheltered life, away from all the confusion of the world.ReplyDelete
I admire religious people who roll their sleeves up and help society in various ways - nursing, teaching or caring for the poor and needy. There are many nuns and monks who still do this - but I cannot applaud those who hide away to "devote" themselves to the mythical figures known as God and Jesus. It seems so self-indulgent in my opinion.Delete
This seems odd as most convents are connected to the community. Here one convent was for retired sisters. They were often out in the community.ReplyDelete
Not these Carmelite nuns Red!Delete
Each to their own. I'm sure throughout her life the lady has done good deeds, helped others who needed help, and harmed no one.ReplyDelete
It's not a life I understand, but there is much about life I don't understand.
If you're interested in hearing what the Nun has to say...to discuss with her your beliefs and hers etc., I'm sure she would welcome you to sit in the convent garden with her and share a pleasant conversation, perhaps over a pot of tea or coffee.
You have a very generous heart Lee.Delete
It would not be allowed to meet up with any of the nuns. They live like voluntary prisoners - almost entirely cut off from the world outside the convent.
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Yorkshire Pudding, you'd be amazed if you even asked for a visit, meeting one of the Sisters in the visiting parlour. These ladies have chosen this life. Their attention is not on the lifestyle you would consider austere but they consider simple. That simplicity enables them to avoid distractions so they can pursue what they see as important: loving Jesus and praying for others. A friend has lived there for 30 years or more. She's so full of light and joy (and wisdom she did not have in her youth). Yes, she does have funny stories to tell - and also stories that are full of love and respect for the Sisters she lives with. It's always a pleasure to visit her. I am the exact opposite in the sense I'm called to travel the world but I so respect my friend for choosing to serve God in this selfless way. KateyReplyDelete
Thanks for this most interesting and illuminating contribution Katey.Delete