Monday, 6 March 2023

The Oxford Chapter on Pilgrimage

 Clare of the Oxford Chapter writes: It was a somewhat chilly morning on Monday 27th February, when 3 members of the Oxford Chapter of the Guild of St. Clare met on the platform of Oxford Parkway Railway Station. This was the start of our Pilgrimage to the Church of Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane in London, via a number of sewing related retail establishments.

We spent the hour of the journey into London discussing our hopes and aspirations for the day - and, of course, doing some sewing. We arrived at Marylebone Station and walked the short distance to our first port of call; Joel and Son. This is a veritable cornucopia of rolls of fabric, reaching from the floor to the ceiling. Nothing leapt out at us, demanding to be purchased, so we moved on to the next establishment on our itinerary.

After a somewhat circuitous route, we found ourselves at V. V. Rouleaux - another cornucopia, this time of braids, ribbons, trims and other bits and bobs. It was getting towards lunchtime, so we MacCulloch and Wallis our last stop of the morning. We dramatically reduced their stock of needles, thread, marking pencils and calico, among other things, after which we had a well earned cup of tea and a sandwich.

Liberty’s was just a short walk from the cafĂ©, with its large collection of cotton prints and sewing accessories, made in some of their more popular prints. A number of items in the latter category were delightedly purchased. While investigating the sales items, we came upon a rather spectacular model of the shop in LEGO!

Our final retail establishment was Watts and Co, where we were shown their extensive range of glorious liturgical fabrics, and came away with some samples for matching various projects.

Two further Pilgrims then joined us at the Clermont Hotel, Charing Cross for afternoon tea. We spent a very pleasant hour or so chatting and enjoying the tea, sandwiches and cakes.

After tea, we made our way to our final destination and the purpose of our Pilgrimage; Sung Mass at the beautiful Church of Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, to pray for the special intention of the Liberty of the traditional Mass.

We have been commissioned to make covers for the kneelers for Corpus Christi, for use at Pontifical Masses, and took this opportunity to check the measurements. We are looking forward to beginning these as part of our contribution to the Lenten Vestment Challenge.

Friday, 3 March 2023

A visit to the Northern Chapter

Lucy writes: It was a marvellous treat for me to attend the most recent meeting of the Northern Chapter, very kindly hosted by the priests at the York Oratory. 

What a powerhouse! The meeting was extremely well-attended: the Upper Room, which is the parish hall of the York Oratory, was as full as it could hold. I was impressed by the wide range of projects under repair, from a baptismal gown with a hole (a new panel of needle lace is being made specially to replace the damaged section) to several large and magnificent banners, some owned by the Canons at St Walburge's, nothing is too complex for the highly-skilled needleworkers gathered last Saturday.

One of the special things about the meetings at the York Oratory is that the day begins with Mass, at 9.15am. There is also Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at lunch time, so that the whole day becomes a spiritual retreat as well as a workshop. 

I was very touched by the very warm welcome I was given by the Chapter members, and awe-struck by the sheer quantity of work that they are tackling. They are anxious to be as useful as possible to the traditional communities that they serve, especially to the priests, and are continually seeking them out to offer their services.

The meeting took place on the same day that news broke about the suppression of almost all traditional Masses in Leeds, which is the neighbour to Middlesbrough diocese where we were gathered. It was a great shock to us all, especially as the blow seemed to fall so close to us. The attack on the traditional Mass feels very personal to those attached to it, and we are very hurt by it: but it was notable that there was no bitterness. There is anxiety and distress, but no anger: only a determination to continue to serve the Church as well as possible. Mending vestments is not only a practical answer to the latest onslaught from Rome, but also a great comfort.

The next meeting of the Northern Chapter is at St Augustine's, Manchester: for more details contact the Chapter Co-ordinator, Clare Megarity on

Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Launch of the Lenten Vestment Mending Challenge

Our Lenten Challenge launched over the weekend before Ash Wednesday, with a vestment mending workshop at St Mary Moorfields, London (thanks to the kind hospitality of Fr Christopher Vipers). The Lenten Vestment Mending Challenge is an annual enterprise for the Guild of St Clare: this year it is being offered as a contribution to the Appeal for Prayers and Penances for the Liberty of the Traditional Mass, organised by Una Voce International. Nearly thirty people are officially signed up to our Challenge this year, with others participating through their local Chapters. This translates into a considerable quantity of work, mostly repairs, which we are undertaking as an alms to the Church, and in particular to traditionally minded priests. Here is a sample of the projects that are in progress.

A new maniple is being made to match a Low Mass set: the shape and design will imitate the stole

The lining is adrift from this chasuble: it is being stitched back down 

This is a pattern I have made for a new maniple to match the stole of a red Low Mass Set

This beautiful embroidered chasuble was coming apart at one of the seams: it has been carefully reinforced

A maniple under construction, to go with a chasuble which had no matching pieces

This chasuble is in perfect condition except for the lining which was badly stained: we are re-lining it

There is a lot of damage to the gold work on this humeral veil: the spangles are being painstakingly replaced

Bias strips of cotton sateen, being cut and pressed before being stitched to the fraying neckline of a chasuble

We often add a lace protector to the neckline of fragile chasubles, to give them a longer life expectancy

This banner needs a new ground fabric

One of our younger members is making a burse to go with this stole

Frayed patches are being carefully darned on this chasuble, and the whole thing re-lined

The London (St Bede's) Chapter is making this altar frontal as a group project, aiming to complete it in time for Laetare Sunday

This banner needs extensive repairs: re-touching to the painting, and a new ground fabric

Friday, 17 February 2023

February Sewing Retreat Report

 Lucy writes: As supporters of the Guild of St Clare will remember, our February retreat was to have been held at Park Place Pastoral Centre, near Wickham, Hants. Owing to an unfortunate misunderstanding, it turned out that our dates were not in the Centre's diary, and I made this discovery only a week before the retreat was due to start. That we managed to find a replacement venue at such short notice - and one only a half hour's drive from Park Place - was nothing short of miraculous. 

We held the retreat instead at St Joseph's Centre, Ashurst, a beautiful house run by the Montfort Missionaries. And it became evident, once the weekend had begun, that Our Lady herself had had a hand in the new arrangements. St Joseph's is a superbly run retreat centre, where retreatants are welcomed with roaring log fires and magnificent meals; but what meant the most to us was the profoundly Catholic atmosphere of the place. 

We had the exclusive use of a small ad orientem chapel, and were delighted to find a wonderful Stations of the Cross in the garden, not to mention an abundance of religious art that harmonised charmingly with the surroundings. 

Our retreat began on 3rd February, the Feast of St Blaise, and our chaplain, Fr Thomas Crean O.P., gave us the blessing of throats, as well as our usual devotions of daily Mass, daily Rosary, Compline each evening and Adoration on Saturday.

We achieved a great deal in the short time available to us. Progress was made on re-lining a chasuble, making a chalice veil, a maniple and a burse, adding new facings to a cope, patching a much-loved cotta, stitching lace on to an alb where it had come loose, strengthening some fragile panels in an old chasuble, adding lace protectors to stoles, labelling new vestments with the names of the owners and repairing the gold work on a humeral veil.

Despite the last-minute change of venue, the retreat was fully booked, and we had retreatants from all over the UK including Scotland, Manchester and Kent, and also from abroad: from Slovakia, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland.

Fr Des Connolly, who was our host, embodies the Ancient Greek spirit of philoxenia. We have never been so warmly welcomed in any place as we were at St Joseph's last weekend. He pressed us most earnestly to return, and as every retreantant, on leaving, also urged the claims of St Joseph's as our future home, it will be so. 

Our November retreat (3-5th Nov) will therefore be held at St Joseph's likewise: online booking is open here. For more information about the Guild of St Clare and our events, look at our website here.

Saturday, 11 February 2023

Lenten Vestment Mending, for the Liberty of the Traditional Mass

 Una Voce International has today launched an Appeal for Lenten prayers and penances with the special intention of the liberty of the traditional Mass. Rumours have been circulating recently which suggest that further restrictions will be placed on the Traditional Mass this year, perhaps in Holy Week, and the Appeal is a response to this possible threat. The Guild of St Clare is joining the Appeal by offering our usual Lenten Vestment Mending Challenge for this intention.


The Appeal does not ask for a particular prayer to be said; rather, that individuals and groups should make their own particular offerings for the intention. We at the Guild of St Clare therefore invite anyone who may wish to join us in mending or making a particular vestment during Lent as our contribution to the Appeal, uniting the work with our special vestment-mending prayer: Jesu, via, veritas et vita, miserere nobis (Jesus, the way, the truth and the life, have mercy on us).


It is not necessary to be local to the Guild to participate in this endeavour. If you are unable to attend local Chapter meetings, or the mending workshops in London, it is nevertheless possible to take part from your own home. Any vestment or altar furnishing can be the object of your work, although in accordance with the ethos of the Guild of St Clare, it should be one which will be used, at least occasionally (not necessarily exclusively), for the Traditional Mass. Neither is it necessary to undertake a colossal project on a grand scale (although this isn't discouraged!). Simply sewing down loose braid, or replacing the tapes in a chasuble, can make a big difference to a priest living with the inconvenience of such a problem, and will be also be welcomed as a contribution to the Appeal.


If this suffering is indeed to come to us, it must be understood as an invitation to prayer: let us be like the widow praised by Our Lord for the donation of her mite to the Temple, and give as much as we can, be it ever so little, to support the Church and preserve the great treasure of her ancient liturgy. 


If you would like to take part in this Lenten Challenge, please email me at for further details. If you are unable to participate but are interested in the project, we will be updating our blog and Twitter feed with news about how our Lenten work is progressing. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Forthcoming Vestment Mending Workshops

The Guild of St Clare will be holding vestment mending workshops alongside server training with the Society of St Tarcisius on the following dates:

18 February 2023, Vestment Mending day at St Mary Moorfields, Eldon Street, London, 10.30am-3.30pm

22 April 2023 Vestment Mending day at St Dominic’s, Haverstock Hill, London, 10.30am-3.30pm

17 June 2023, Vestment Mending day at St Mary Moorfields, Eldon Street, London, 10.30am-3.30pm

For more information, contact Lucy at

Saturday, 14 January 2023

Places available on February's Sewing Retreat

Our next Sewing Retreat is in three weeks, and we still have a few places available. The dates are 3rd-5th February 2023, and it will take place at Park Place Pastoral Centre, Fareham. 

For more information have a look at our website or watch this mini-documentary made by Peter Jones of One of Nine at last year's February retreat.