Meet the Friends of Augustine, a community inspired by the way of life of Saint Augustine.
Founded in 1248, Clare Priory was the first house of the Augustinian Friars in England and is now a parish and retreat centre run by the Friars and the Priory community.
The Priory community live according to the Rule of St. Augustine. The Rule of Saint Augustine emphasises the need to search for God together in order to achieve oneness of mind and heart.
As Saint Augustine writes, ‘Before all else, live together in harmony, being of one mind and one heart on the way to God.’
The house contains a number of original features, including the Little Cloister with the Shrine, the vaulted porch and impressive stone and stained glass work throughout the house.
It was built in the 13th/14th century and remodelled in the 15th whereas the bays extending into the cloister are additions of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.
The Shrine is dedicated to Mother of Good Counsel and is one of the oldest parts of the priory.
It contains a relief of the Mother of Good Counsel by the well-known religious artist, Mother Concordia OSB, which is based on the original fresco at Genazzano near Rome.
A freestanding contemporary extension has been built alongside and linked to the existing church.
The new building has been designed to avoid interfering with the fabric of the existing church and the archaeology of this special, historic site and to be in keeping with the peace and beauty of the setting.
Founded in 1248, Clare Priory is one of the oldest religious houses in England, occupied by the order that founded it. The Augustinians came to Clare from northern France at the invitation of the Earl of Clare, Gloucester and Hertford, Sir Richard de Clare, to build their first foundation in the British Isles.
The size of the community was never more than about thirty friars and was suppressed by Henry VIII's agents in 1538. No one knows what happened to the friars, though another Augustinian friar, John Stone, was executed in Canterbury in 1539 for refusing to sign the Oath of Supremacy and is now numbered among the forty Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales.
After the suppression of the Priory, ownership of the buildings, goods, lands and revenues became the property of the Crown, and so passed into private ownership. The Augustinians returned to Clare in 1953 thanks to the generosity of the May family, who allowed the Order to purchase the house for only a fraction of its true value.
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