Tuesday, 21 April 2009

More From the Convent.

As I arrived at Sneaton Castle the altar was as you see it above and the smell of the Palm Sunday incense hung thick in the air. I rather like the symbols of the passion under the altar, even if from this distance they look like Cantonese. Some people have asked me for more pictures of the Castle, so this post is for you.

This is the famous hanging silver pyx in the shape of a dove, suspended above the altar in the side Chapel and containing the reserved sacrament. I am a great fan of hanging pyxes and was delighted to see one in the Chapel of the Bishop of Blackburn. I will take a picture of it next time I go if I can.

Here is the visitors common room at the Castle, which in times gone by would have been the entrance hall of the convent. Little oddly placed windows (presumably put in when the convent had a school attached so the Sisters could keep an eye on the girls) allow glimpses into the monastic enclosure and reveal such delights as an oil portrait of Cardinal Newman of great quality as well as assorted nicknackery of ages.

To the right here you can see the convent building proper, the refectory is a low building off to the side. The taller building is the 'castle' from which the centre takes its name and is comprised of meeting rooms, administration and endless corridors in which one can get lost at will.

Every morning as I said my office at 6, I would walk past these donkeys. I discovered that leaning on the gate led them to think that I was Sister Donkey Feeder and resulted in then gambolling out excitedly before looking at me and realising that I was an impostor.

This picture of the Holy Family and their doggy (don't you know your bible?) was given to the Sisters by Lord Halifax, patron of Anglo Catholicism, who also, among his many generous gifts, gave the silver big six candlesticks for the High Altar at York Minster.

This garden is the Sisters own, but the railings around the walkway from the back of the Chapel allowed your scribe to show you a glimpse of it. The whole place was immaculately kept and a joy to stay at. I am hoping to go to Rempstone on retreat next year, so will have to think about making enquiries once things have settled down.

Saint Hilda on Easter Sunday. The Chapel was modernised not that long ago, as one of the Sisters explained how it used to be I could not help feeling as though I would have preferred it as it was, but like Saint Beuno's (although not the Forest Chapel) I feel the work has been sympathetic and well done. I enjoyed spending time in the light and airy Chapel, seeing the change in the stone in day and night and watching the sun flooding in and creeping out of the windows. The other thing to point out about the Chapels of religious communities is that, of course, it is fairly irrelevant what you think - you do not have to live there!

This shows the entrance to the enclosure and cloister from the chapel gallery. A peaceful, serene place with meditations and prayers attached to the walls written by individual Sisters and shared amongst themselves, changed and moved regularly.

I was very taken with the woodwork in the Chapel, in particular the stalls. Here you can see the stall of the Prioress with her staff of office to the side, the seat for the Chauntress is next to her.

This is one of two very fine processional crosses in the Chapel, the more famous one you have seen in an earlier post, being carried into the Chapel in procession, I like the enamel work on this one showing the four evangelists. If anyone has any information about it I should be delighted to hear it.

The altar on Easter Sunday morning after the Mass.

Our Lady on Easter Sunday morning.

'Did you hear the one about....'