Stanbrook Abbey contents to be auctioned as Sisters move to new convent

 Bonhams auctioners have announce that it is selling the contents of Stanbrook Abbey in the heart of Worcestershire. As the nuns prepare to move to their new convent in the North Yorkshire Park, the contents of their historic home will be sold in Bonhams Knowle salerooms on Tuesday 28 October.

The Abbey boasts the oldest printing press in England and has many literary associations. Iris Murdoch was inspired to write her novel The Bell after a visit to the convent and Rumer Godden's In This House of Brede was based on the community at Stanbrook.

Mark Jones, Bonhams Regional Director in Knowle said: "Bonhams is privileged to have been entrusted with this sale. It is rare to find furniture and fittings from such an historically significant building coming to the market. Some of these objects helped to fulfil a sacred function in this building for many years and will doubtless attract a great deal of interest."

Highlights from the sale include a brass bound campaign chest which was used at Sebastopol during the Crimean War (estimate £1,000-2,000), a George III mahogany and boxwood inlaid longcase clock (estimate £1,500-2,000) and a large quantity of Minton earthenware tiles designed by E W Pugin.

Established in 1835, the first nuns to inhabit Stanbrook were refugees from war torn Europe. They had been ejected from its original abbey in Flanders during the French Revolution and imprisoned in Compiegne. Those who survived the ordeal fled to England and decided to make a new life for themselves, settling at Stanbrook.

When the Community bought the abbey - then called Stanbrook Hall - they had to use a degree of subterfuge in making the purchase since anti-Catholic feeling still ran high in the country. The nuns had to dress a priest as a local country squire in order to negotiate the sale. The nuns then set about making changes to the building, using the renowned architect, Edward Welby Pugin, to design the cloisters and Abbey church. The Grade II Abbey church was completed in 1871 and its Gothic tower remains a local landmark.

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