The Chapel Today
The spacious L-shaped chapel, combining modern and traditional features in a light and harmonious whole, offers a beautiful and flexible area for both liturgical and private prayer. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel and Lady Chapel provide focuses for private devotion.
The History of the Chapel
1921....One of the first concerns of the foundresses in 1921 was to set up their own chapel, where the Holy Eucharist could be fittingly celebrated. This they did in the former billiard room, at present the Guests' Dining Room. Here they erected the altar and installed the beautifully carved dark wooden stalls that they had brought over from France. As may be read in their Constitutions of 1666, prime importance was attached to the chanting of the Office. "In houses where there are four Choir Sisters in good health the office will be recited in choir at the appointed hour each day...nothing must impair this occupation worthy of the angels." Four hundred years after the Augustinian Canons of Cartmel had been silenced, the chant was taken up again in this land of hills and fells.
1928....In 1928, the new convent built for the community, thanks to the generosity of the Catholic Friendly Society, provided what was to be known until 1961 as a temporary chapel. Many precious memories of this little chapel, with its ever-changing liturgical colours, are preserved by Sisters, patients and guests who, through the years, prayed there together.
1961....After 33 years of patient waiting, and again thanks to the generosity of numerous friends, the "new chapel" was blessed and opened on the 29th September 1961. Its luminosity and its spaciousness, the beauty of the light oak choir stalls and parquet floor, were an inspiration and invitation to prayer. The cherished ambition of having a chapel, in the traditional style of our convents, was realised.
1994....The liturgical renewal following the Second Vatican Council and our response to the Church's desire that we "celebrate the Liturgy in the name of all, and to help others to discover in it the prayer of the Church, taking part in it as far as possible", made the re-ordering of the 1961 chapel essential. It was in 1994, after long and prayerful reflection in the community, together with our guests, patients and local people, that this re-ordering was finally completed. This gives easy access to the Choir and to the exquisite Blessed Sacrament Chapel, making it possible for all "to take part in the great chorus of praise and intercession that resounds throughout the Church at every moment".
The Oratory, which was designed and built by the architects Benson and Forsyth in 1986, to commemorate the sixteen hundredth anniversary of the conversion of St Augustine, has won a major architectural award. Its striking simplicity makes it a perfect place for private prayer.