The Cornerstone Project
The need for more space for church services at Clare Priory is even greater now than when the planning application was first submitted in 1996. When the Augustinian Order returned to Clare in 1953 after an absence of more than 400 years the medieval infirmary was converted on a limited budget to serve as a church for the friars and novices and for a small parish. It was not designed or adapted to fulfil its existing role.
Appeal by Fr. Bernard Rolls OSA (Prior & Parish Priest 2006-2013)
Over the years the number of parishioners and visitors to the retreat centre has increased and we regularly have more than 130 people trying to squeeze into a church designed to seat 90. It is often standing room only at the back of the church and in the porch, and for special services such as weddings and funerals extra seating sometimes has to be provided on patio chairs outside the church. We have to hire a marquee for special events, such as our national pilgrimage each year.
Clare Priory and its church are important monuments both in terms of the historic building stock of England and as the Mother House of the Augustinian Friars in the UK Province and in the entire English-speaking world. And the Priory is a special place for the town of Clare itself, of course. It is on the list of places visitors come to all through the year, and many of our neighbours come too, just to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet and the natural environment.