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An Orthodox Monastery in the Shropshire Hills

May 4 2005:

An address by Father Silouan at Lambeth Palace

High up in the South-West Shropshire hills, just under the devil's chair on the Stiperstones a ruined miner's cottage has been transformed into an Orthodox Monastery.

With the help of ARC, in 1997 it became a Sacred Land Project. Old vehicles dumped for over a century were removed; a kitchen garden of raised beds was constructed; a pond was dug out and a cloister garden planted. An open roof allows vines to grown in a sheltered paradise where a water fountain, like the tree of life, leads into a frescoed Church. In what was once the byre, the Saints look down on a small Orthodox chapel and holy icons glow in the candlelight.

All this reflects a vision shared by monastery and ARC alike, a vision of practical ecology and conservation, inspired by spiritual principles, a vision lived out day by day in the ancient Orthodox tradition of the desert fathers and the hermits of Mount Athos. This vision unites prayer and work, contemplative THEORIA and practical living that hallows the land, experienced as both a heavenly earth and an earthly heaven.

Exmoor ponies pasture the old wetland in which the small pearl-bordered fritillary thrives among marsh violets and orchids. Geese, ducks, hens and a columbarium of white fantail doves all form part of an integral management of this Ecologically Sensitive Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In cooperation with the Department of the Environment, the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, English Nature, the Forestry Commission and local Butterfly Conservation, this sacred land project and listed wildlife site continues to thrive.

We are immensely grateful to ARC, to Prince Philip, Martin Palmer and all his colleagues for the timely help and support we have received from them.

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