As a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity, Monastery retreats offer a unique opportunity for individuals seeking to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s a chance to step back, slow down, and take the time to reflect on what matters. In the UK, several monasteries offer retreats, each with its unique charm and character. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best monastery retreats in the UK, and what makes them so special.
What is a Monastery Retreat?
A monastery retreat is a type of spiritual retreat that takes place in a monastery or convent. These retreats offer a chance to immerse oneself in a more monastic life or way of life within a monastic community, which often includes prayer, meditation, and reflection. Monasteries are typically located in remote, peaceful areas, allowing visitors to escape the distractions of modern life and connect with nature.
Monastery retreats can be as short as one night on a weekend or midweek retreats or as long as several weeks. They are suitable for people of all faiths and backgrounds, and many retreats offer a range of activities, such as yoga, walking, or gardening. Some retreats require participants to adhere to a strict schedule, while others offer more flexibility.
- Silent Retreats: These retreats are ideal for those seeking solitude and a chance to disconnect from the noise of the world. Participants spend their time in silence, reflecting and meditating.
- Guided Retreats: These retreats are led by experienced spiritual directors who help participants on their spiritual journey. The directors provide guidance, support, and encouragement to help participants deepen their spiritual practice.
- Group Retreats: These retreats are ideal for those who want to connect with others on a similar journey. Participants come together to share their experiences, support one another and deepen their spiritual practice.
- Personal Retreats: These retreats provide individuals with the opportunity to create their own retreat experience. Participants can spend their time in prayer, meditation, or reflection, and have the freedom to choose their schedule.
Christian Monastery Retreats
Buckfast Abbey, Devon, England
Buckfast Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located in Devon, South West England. Founded in 1018, the abbey has a long and rich history that spans over a millennium. Buckfast Abbey offers retreats throughout the year, ranging from guided silent retreats to self-led private retreats. The retreats offer guests an opportunity to spend time in quiet reflection, explore the abbey’s beautiful grounds, and participate in daily worship services. Additionally, the abbey’s location in the stunning Dartmoor National Park provides a peaceful and tranquil backdrop for retreatants.
Ampleforth Abbey, North Yorkshire, England
Ampleforth Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located in the picturesque North Yorkshire countryside. The abbey offers a range of retreats throughout the year, including silent retreats, individually directed retreats, and themed retreats. The retreats are led by experienced monks who offer guidance and support throughout the retreat experience. Guests can also participate in the abbey church daily worship services and enjoy the stunning natural surroundings of all the rooms and abbey’s grounds.
Worth Abbey, West Sussex, England
Worth Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located in the beautiful West Sussex countryside. The Open Cloister is the name of the retreat programme the monastic community runs at Worth Abbey. The retreats are led by experienced monks who offer guidance and support throughout the retreat experience. Guests can participate in daily worship services and explore the abbey’s beautiful grounds, including a lake and woodland walks.
Quarr Abbey, Isle of Wight, England
Located on the Isle of Wight, Quarr Abbey is a Benedictine monastery that offers a unique retreat experience. The monastery’s stunning location on the island provides guests with breathtaking views of the English Channel and the Solent. The retreats are led by experienced Benedictine monks who offer guidance and hospitality and can show the Benedictine way of life. Guests can participate in daily worship services, as well as explore the monastery’s beautiful gardens and woodland walks.
The Bield at Blackruthven, Scotland
Nestled in the breathtaking Perthshire countryside, The Bield at Blackruthven is a tranquil retreat centre that offers a sanctuary for those seeking inner peace and rejuvenation. Surrounded by lush hills and enchanting forests, this idyllic centre offers the perfect setting for reflection, mindfulness, and growth. The centre also offers an array of spiritual and healing practices, including prayer and worship services, Reiki, and mindfulness training.
The Friars Aylesford Priory, England
Located in the idyllic village of Aylesford in Kent, The Friars at Aylesford Priory is a spiritual oasis that provides a haven of peace and tranquillity for all who visit. This historic priory has been a site of worship and contemplation for over 700 years, and its stunning architecture and peaceful grounds continue to attract visitors from all over the world. If you’re looking for a place to unwind and connect with your spiritual side, The Friars at Aylesford Priory is the perfect destination. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and peaceful grounds, it’s no wonder that so many people have found solace and inspiration at this historic site.
St Mary’s Monastery, Kinnoull
Nestled on the banks of the River Tay, St Mary’s Monastery in Kinnoull is a spiritual retreat that offers visitors a peaceful and tranquil environment for meditation, prayer, and contemplation. This beautiful monastery has been a site of worship, pilgrimage, community, and reflection for over 150 years and its rich history and stunning architecture continue to inspire visitors from all over the world.
St Beuno’s, Wales
Nestled in the idyllic countryside of North Wales, St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre offers a serene and peaceful environment for spiritual renewal, reflection, and growth. The centre has been a beacon of spiritual guidance and renewal for over 150 years and continues to inspire visitors from all walks of life. At St Beuno’s, you’ll have the opportunity to join and explore a wide range of spiritual programs and retreats that are designed to deepen your spiritual practice and help you connect with your inner self. Whether you’re interested in silent meditation, contemplative prayer, or Ignatian spirituality, there are plenty of opportunities to explore different aspects of spirituality and find the path that works best for you.
Nestled in the heart of the Welsh countryside, Llannerchwen Retreat Centre offers a peaceful and tranquil environment for spiritual renewal, personal growth, and reflection. This retreat centre is a perfect destination for those looking to escape the noise and distractions of everyday life and connect with their inner selves. The retreat centre provides comfortable accommodations, including private rooms, shared rooms en suite facilities, a space in other rooms and even camping facilities.
Douai Abbey, England
Douai Abbey, located in the picturesque village of Woolhampton in Berkshire, is a Benedictine monastery that has been a centre for prayer, study, and hospitality for over a century. The monastery offers retreats and courses on Christian spirituality, as well as opportunities for private retreats and spiritual direction. Guests can enjoy walks in the abbey’s extensive gardens or attend one of the daily liturgies in the magnificent church. The guest house at Douai Abbey provides comfortable accommodations and delicious meals, making it an ideal place for families on a spiritual retreat or a quiet getaway.
Pluscarden Abbey, Scotland
Nestled in the heart of the Moray countryside in Scotland, Pluscarden Abbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in the 13th century. The monastery is renowned for its beautiful surroundings, making it a perfect location for families on a spiritual retreat or quiet getaway. Pluscarden Abbey offers retreats and courses on Christian spirituality, as well as opportunities for private retreats and spiritual direction. Guests can participate in the monastic liturgy, which includes daily Mass, the Divine Office, and Eucharistic Adoration. The abbey’s beautiful church is a place of contemplative silence and prayer, where visitors can find a sense of peace and tranquillity.
Stanbrook Abbey, England
Stanbrook Abbey is a stunning monastery retreat located in the heart of the Malvern Hills. With its picturesque setting and rich history, this Benedictine monastery offers visitors a unique opportunity to connect with their spirituality and find inner peace.
Buddhist Monastery Retreats
Monastery retreats have been practised by Buddhist monks and nuns for centuries. These retreats provide an opportunity for individuals to connect with their inner selves and explore the teachings of Buddha. In this article, we will explore some popular monastery retreats in the UK.
Theravada Monastery Retreats
Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, England
Nestled amidst the picturesque Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire lies a haven of tranquillity and self-discovery: Amaravati Buddhist Monastery. Since its inception in 1984, this spiritual retreat has been a welcoming refuge for those seeking a respite from the chaos of daily life. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or just starting your journey, you’ll find a wealth of resources to help you along the way. From daily meditation sessions to weekend retreats, you’ll have ample opportunities to immerse yourself in the practice of mindfulness and gain a deeper understanding of Buddhist teachings.
Tibetan Monastery Retreats
Samye Ling, Scotland
Nestled amidst the breathtaking Scottish Borders, Samye Ling stands tall as the first-ever Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the West. Since its inception in 1967, this spiritual retreat has welcomed seekers from all corners of the globe, offering a holistic approach to enlightenment and inner peace. At the heart of Samye Ling lies the ancient teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery offers a wealth of resources to help you gain a deeper understanding of these teachings, including access to revered Buddhist texts, talks by the monk and senior practitioners, and guidance from seasoned meditation teachers and monks. You can choose from a variety of retreats, ranging from short weekend breaks to extended retreats lasting several weeks.
Holy Isle, Scotland
Nestled to the north of the breathtaking 990-acre nature reserve off Arran Island, lies a haven of tranquillity and self-discovery: The International Peace Centre at Holy Isle. Getting to Holy Isle is an adventure in itself. You’ll need to catch a ferry between Ardrossan and Arran, followed by a short 10-minute ferry ride to the isle. But the effort is well worth it once you set foot on the tranquil haven. With 65 beds on offer, The International Peace Centre is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. In addition to accommodation, the facility provides regular classes in all seasons.
Madhyamaka Buddhist Centre, Yorkshire, England
Nestled in the idyllic countryside near Pocklington Market town in Yorkshire lies the Madhyamaka Buddhist Centre, a haven of serenity and self-discovery. The centre is housed in a majestic Georgian mansion that dominates the estate, with private gardens making it a peaceful retreat centre for those seeking a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life. These events provide a supportive and welcoming environment for those seeking to deepen their spiritual practice. Accommodations are available at the centre, with small rooms starting at just £54, including breakfast. Guests are also welcome to participate in gardening and other chores, providing a unique opportunity to connect with nature and find inner peace.
In conclusion, the UK is home to a diverse range of monastery retreats that offer a unique opportunity for spiritual growth, contemplation, community and rejuvenation. Whether you’re seeking the peace and tranquillity of the countryside or the vibrant energy of a city centre, there’s a monastery retreat in the UK to suit your needs. From the ancient ruins of Lindisfarne to the beautiful hills of Perthshire, each monastery retreat has its distinctive charm and character. Whether you’re looking to deepen your spiritual practice, learn more about monks and a particular tradition, or simply take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a monastery retreat in the UK is the perfect place to do it.