Benedictines to develop ancient site at Quarr Abbey

 The Benedictine community at Quarr Abbey, situated near Ryde on the Isle of Wright, has applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to carry out an archaeological survey of the ancient abbey ruins dating back to 1132. Abbott Cuthbert Johnson OSB, said: "The aim of our Quarr Abbey Heritage Project is the conservation of the ancient abbey ruins so that they be enjoyed by the public and in particular the many visitors to the Isle of Wight. "We attach special significance to the character of Quarr Abbey as a place of peace, where visitors of all religious backgrounds and cultures can enjoy a time of tranquillity in surroundings of exceptional natural beauty." Abbot Johnson added: "The Quarr Abbey Heritage Project is unique in presenting a ruined mediaeval monastery a couple of hundred yards from a living monastic community of the same name. Not only will it conserve two very important building groups, but present them to the public in such a way that they can benefit from and enjoy the experience." The original title of the monastery is the Abbey of our Lady of the Quarry because there used to be a stone quarry in neighbouring Binstead. Quarr stone was used in the Tower of London. Quarr Abbey was founded in 1132 by Baldwin de Redvers, earl of Devon and fourth lord of the Isle of Wight. Little now remains of the ancient abbey that was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1536. The Abbey was demolished and its stone used for fortifications at Cowes and Yarmouth. However, there survives a scheduled ancient monument of great beauty and historical importance, which is currently on the Buildings at Risk Register. The above ground structures include a substantial part of the dorter, now used as a barn, and parts of the infirmary chapel, the refectory, kitchen and a part of the wood store and warming room. A massive enclosure wall, of which only the western section is seriously depleted, surrounds the whole. This defensive wall, built about 1360, also contains two of the earliest gun ports in the country, added for the defence of the realm for fear of imminent French invasion. Archaeological research into the site is a continuing long-term activity. The Modern Abbey Benedictine monks returned to Quarr in June 1907. The present Abbey, a Grade II Listed Building, was designed by the architect monk, Paul Bellot whose work is internationally recognised, was built between 1907 and 1914 for the community of the Abbey of St Pierre de Solesmes, then in exile on the Island. The imposing abbey church is dedicated to Our Lady and has been an inspiration to artists, students of architecture and ordinary visitors alike who see something of the beauty of God reflected there. Seven times a day the monks gather together in the church to pray the psalms, listen to the Word of God being read or to celebrate Holy Mass. When they are not in church they are involved in some form of work such as bookbinding, pottery, orchard and garden work, and general maintenance, there is also time for study and reading and relaxing together as a community. But whatever the monk is doing, it is Jesus Christ who is his model and inspiration and Him alone whom he seeks to follow. The Abbey remains a constituent house of the Solesmes Congregation. For more information visit The Quarr Abbey website: Source: Birmingham Archdiocese

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