Friday, 23 October 2020

Cancellation of the November Sewing Retreat

 Much to our sorrow the autumn Sewing Retreat at Douai Abbey has been cancelled. This is because the community at Douai have decided not to re-open the retreat centre until after Christmas. Booking is open for our retreat in February and also for our retreat in November 2021. I am very happy to be able to say that Fr Tim Finigan, who was to have been our chaplain at this autumn's retreat, is able to come next November, so we have less to regret in this year's cancellation than might otherwise have been the case.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Coronavirus and the sewing retreat

Our autumn retreat is scheduled for 20th-22nd November, and, under the current restrictions, we are still able to go ahead although with reduced numbers to allow for social distancing in the refectory. We are now limited to twelve, all told. The booking page is open here: there are five places currently available. The well-known Fr Tim Finigan has very generously agreed to be our chaplain. 

If you have any questions about the measures we are taking to prevent the spread of the virus during the retreat, or indeed any other questions, please do get in touch and I will be happy to fill you in.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Royal School of Needlework Sponsorship Award

The Guild of St Clare and the Latin Mass Society are pleased to announce that an award has been made for their Sponsorship Scheme which assists students in doing the Certificate in Hand Embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework. 

The recipient is a religious who prefers to remain anonymous. We are delighted that the skills offered by the Royal School of Needlework will be joined to a vocation of hidden prayer and service to the Church.


The Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Fr Stephen Morrison makes a travelling stole

Lucy writes: I was honoured by a visit from the multi-talented Fr Stephen Morrison last week. While he was with us he made a violet travelling stole, to replace the one he had dropped while visiting Covid patients in the Intensive Care Unit and which was consequently incinerated. 


The stole was made using New Ely brocade and trimmed with Ecclesia braid.

This is Fr Stephen’s second foray into vestment making - he assisted in the construction of faldstool covers during our last Sewing Retreat. The quality of his workmanship is extremely high so that it looks like the creation of a much more experienced maker. I hope the Guild of St Clare will benefit from his skills in the future!


Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Embroidery Course Sponsorship Scheme 2020

Crewel work completed by our first sponsored
student, James Sharpe
In 2019 the Guild of St Clare made the first award under its Sponsorship Scheme to help a student through the Certificate Course at the Royal School of Needlework. Our sponsored student has made good progress, and as he enters his second year of part-time study, we can start sponsoring a second.

The deadline is 22nd June.

The RSN Certificate Course takes between one and four years, depending on how intensively students wish to do it. Its great flexibility makes it ideal for those who can only spare limited time, or whose availability fluctuates over the year. The Certificate gives its graduates a thorough grounding in a range of traditional hand-embroidery skills, skills for which the RSN is renowned, and which its experts apply to historic restoration projects and important commissions.

Sponsored students will be able to reclaim half the cost of their tuition days, up to a maximum of £2,000 a year (September 1st to September 1st), subject to satisfactory progress in the Certificate course, and their attendance at least one of the Guild’s two annual Sewing Retreats. Students at the RSN have to pay for tuition days when they book them; they would be reimbursed at that point. Progress will be monitored by reference to the successful completion of each module, and the reports which are provided by RSN tutors on each piece of work.

More information, and how to apply, can be found here.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Vestment Mending Days

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The Vestment mending day in March will be our last until further notice, due to the Corona virus. The one we were planning in May will not take place.

Assuming the Autumn Sewing Retreat at Douai Abbey is not affected, you can book that here: 20-22nd November, to be led by Fr Timothy Finigan.

We will be back with more vestment mending days as soon as we can.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Guild of St Clare Retreat: report

The Guild of St Clare held its sixth sewing retreat on the last weekend of February, and we were delighted to welcome Fr Stephen Morrison, OPraem, as our chaplain. We tackled a wide variety of repairs and commissions, including ongoing work on the Latin Mass Society's red High Mass Set, the re-lining of a much-loved chasuble from Fr Stephen's own community in Chelmsford, and the making of three faldstool covers in different liturgical colours for Fr Alan Robinson at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane.


Fr Stephen gave us three allocutions on the meaning of the Mass, and the spirit in which we should participate in it; they were thoughtful and full of insights which made a most helpful start to our Lenten devotions. Fr Stephen also took a very active part in the sewing side of the retreat; he learned to use the Guild sewing machines and assisted us in the making of the black faldstool cover. There is a piano in the room we use for sewing at Douai Abbey, and Fr Stephen played to us on this instrument in his rare moments of rest, which gave us all a great deal of pleasure. 


In addition to Mass on each day of the retreat we had morning Rosary, and, on Saturday evening, sung Compline before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, followed by Benediction. We were also invited to attend Douai Abbey's own community vespers, which is sung in Latin. These devotions are central to the work we do at the retreat, reminding us of the spiritual importance of the vestments we are handling and the vital need to treat them with care and respect; and to give them the best possible repair that we can.


It is a great source of delight to me to see the progress that is made in repairing the many old and damaged vestments that we deal with during the retreats. It is an additional joy to see the number of people who take part in the retreats, all making their contribution to this work.



Some of the chasubles and dalmatics we have repaired have needed dozens of hours of work to be done on them, and have therefore passed through the hands of several different retreatants. 


These vestments, though in heavy use, have often not been well treated in the past, probably simply because of the lack of anyone to mend and care for them. This lack is handsomely compensated for by the love and attention that is lavished on them during the Guild of St Clare sewing retreats, when time and thought are not considered too great luxuries to expend on them.



Douai Abbey was as comfortable and hospitable as ever, and we look forward to our next retreat there, on November 20th- 22nd, to be led by Fr Tim Finigan. Online registration is now open: book online here.