Saturday, June 27, 2009

Prinknash Abbey

It seems that summer Saturday mornings lately here on the NLM have revolved around some particular manifestation of monastic life; this morning is no different.

In the light of this recent coverage, one of our readers wrote to ask if we might also give a little coverage to some of our older monastic foundations, such as Prinknash Abbey, located in Gloucester, England. ("Prinknash" is prounounced "Prin-nish" incidentally.) I am delighted to do so.

I, myself, first became aware of this Benedictine Abbey a number of years ago by way of the fine incense they produce according to an in-house, secret recipe. The Prinknash monks have been blending incense since 1906 and they now have multiple varieties which they offer. Readers will note that they not only sell it in quantities most especially useful for parish churches, but also in smaller quantities for those who wish to burn incense at home -- which, incidentally, is a practice which can be very condusive to setting a climate of prayer, or to mark a feast day.

(I would be remiss to not, yet again make a promotion of the fact that we should try to support our monastic foundations by purchasing the products they produce. Accordingly, parish priests and sacristans in particular, but also those who wish to make an affordable gift to their parish or oratory, do consider supporting the monks of Prinknash by purchasing their time-tested incense for your church.)

The monastic foundation of Prinknash itself has an interesting and colourful history:

For nearly nine hundred years the land known as Prinknash has been associated with Benedictine monks. In 1096 the Giffard family, who had come to England with William the Conqueror, made a gift of the land to Serlo, Abbot of St. Peter's, Gloucester. A large part of the present building was constructed during the abbacy of William Parker, last Abbot of Gloucester, around the year 1520.

It remained in the abbey's hands until the suppression of the monasteries in 1539 when it was rented from the Crown by Sir Anthony Kingston who was to provide forty deer, annually, for King Henry VIII, who used the House as a hunting lodge.

Prinknash Park continued to be used as a home for the gentry and nobility of Gloucestershire during the next few centuries and each generation left its mark upon the property.

On 1 August 1928 a Deed of Covenant was made out by the twentieth Earl of Rothes, the grandson of Mr. Thomas Dyer Edwards whose wish it was that Prinknash should be given to the Benedictine monks of Caldey Island. These monks had converted to the Catholic Faith in 1913 and were led by Ælred Carlyle, later to become a famous Abbot.

(Source: Wikipedia)

One year ago, almost to the day, on the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, the monks moved out of the abbey buildings built in 1972 and returned to the mediaeval building of St. Peter's Grange, which had been used as the monastery from 1928 until 1972.

St. Peter's Grange, Prinknash Abbey

The Chapel

One aspect of Prinknash Abbey that did come to me as an unknown was the discovery that, since 2002, two of the monks at the Abbey have also been offering Mass in the usus antiquior. They tell us that this is usually celebrated on Saturdays, often on weekday solemnities, and monthly on Sunday.

The abbey website is filled with all manner of interesting information, notes about other products that the monks make and sell to support their existence, as well as more information on their history, so do make certain to pay a visit.

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