Association of British Contemplatives Directory

Canonesses Regular of St Augustine Windesheim Congregation

This community came to England, Haywards Heath in 1886 and moved to Sayers Common in 1978. We trace our origin through Bruges, 1629, to Louvain, 1415, both houses closely associated with the English Martyrs. St Ursula's, Louvain, was one of the first women's' communities sprung from Windesheim (founded 1387).

This branch of the Canonical Order arose out of the lay movement known as the 'Devotio Moderna'. The 'Brothers and Sisters of the Common Life' re­ sponded to a strongly felt need of the time for a return to the Gospel, a close following of Christ and genuine Christian community. The first monasteries of Windesheim became houses of prayer where those looking for spiritual and material help were welcomed and received hospitality. They adopted the rule of St Augustine which stresses the importance of love, and life in com­mon, after the manner of the first Christians (cf Acts 2 & 4). They also drew inspiration from the Flemish mystics, especially John Ruusbroec. One of their early members was Thomas a Kempis, author of the 'Imitation of Christ'.

In our own time we try to live this out, in a life of prayer and work, having 'all things in common', and open to the needs of others.

Guests, retreat facilities

Our work of hospitality flows from our contemplative life. A retreat programme is organised, including Priory Weekends and monthly Drop-in Days led by community members. Individuals are welcomed for retreats or just periods of space and rest within a monastic setting. The Priory Centre is also used by a variety of groups, both Christian and of other faiths, for retreats or work­ shops (spiritual, educational or cultural).

Centre facilities include: 18 bedrooms (35 beds), meeting rooms, sitting rooms, library, dining room, oratory, Church, garden and grounds.

Lay Association with the Community

A number of people work with or alongside us in various ways, for shorter or longer periods. For those wishing to experience the life of the community more fully, a monastic live-in can be arranged by mutual agreement. There is an Association of Friends of the Priory, an informal link for the purpose of mutual contact, support and prayer.

Further Information

Mother Prioress
Priory of Our Lady
Dove Cottage
Kingston Ridge
East Sussex

Tel: 01273 486677



Recently a small group has gone to Rwanda to welcome Rwandese who are interested in the Congregation.

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