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|