Friday, 23 October 2015


This is a picture of part ot the grounds of THE FRIARS, a Carmelite priory in Aylesford Kent.  Ther Carmelites first settled here in 1242, but were dispersed in 1538 at the time of the reformation.  They returned to Aylesford in 1949 and have lived there ever since. In 1974 Bishop Cyril Cowderoy called it “The Jewel My Diocese.”

 Here is the gist of a letter I have written to some people telling them of the way The Friars turned my life around.

 “My name is Rosamund Browne and I have cerebral palsy.  I was born in 1946, a 24 week baby weighing 2lbs and not expected to live. I didn’t walk until I was 8 years old.  As a baby I was in hospital for 2 ½ years learning to crawl, sit up and feed myself.  I then had to go away from home again to boarding school, aged 6 where I finally learned to walk.  My childhood was full of home sickness

 For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be an actress.  My justifiably horrified parents refused to let me even try.  It was suggested that I go to teacher training college.  Getting a place was virtually impossible.  Having to admit (until relatively recently) to being a “Spastic Paraplegic,” my  application forms were dismissed out of hand, until my very feisty mother blew her top and a college gave me an interview.

 I taught for 3 years, during which time I was over worked and bullied by staff and pupils at school and eventually had a nervous breakdown.

 It was then that a Carmelite community at Aylesford Priory in Maidstone, Kent came to my rescue.

I’d heard about Carmelites, (or White friars) a strict order, who weren’t allowed to speak, Joke, laugh or drink, and prayed night and day, (I found out later this was only nuns) and I didn’t want to go there at all.  I was booked to stay for 2 weeks, and thought I would be back home the next day.

I arrived on a beautiful April evening in 1974; there was blossom everywhere, a duck pond with a weeping willow tree, (and ducks) and the first person I met was a beautifully robed friar, sitting at a desk.  In front of him was an ash tray full of cigarette ends.  He greeted me warmly with a broad smile.

 I breathed a sigh of relief and fell in love with the place.

I ended up staying there for 18 months, working my butt off in the pilgrims’ tea room.  I did a lot of laughing.  I was mercilessly and very lovingly teased, especially when I fell over, (which I often did) once into a bucket of freshly made orange squash, and once into an ice cream deep freeze , trying to reach for the only ice cream left.

I’d forgotten what love and kindness were like.  I was doing basic menial hard work, but I was so happy.

18 months later, the prior asked me what I really wanted to do.  When I said I wanted to go to Drama School, he suggested I find a post graduate course.  I went to The Guildhall School Of Music and Drama in London, and in time became an Equity member and have worked in television, radio and on stage.

 I went back to Aylesford Priory as often as I could, and when I met my husband, Allan, the prior, Father Hugh who I so dearly loved, and who had saved my sanity conducted our wedding.

We had 2 girls and they came to love Aylesford Priory as much as I did.  When my husband was ill the Carmelites stepped in again to help.

 Now I can no longer walk, my husband and Father Hugh have been dead some years; without that priory and its community I would never have achieved what I have.  (Oh, by the way, 3 months ago I became a grandmother for the first time.)

 he priory has helped hundreds like me to a greater or lesser degree.  Each one has their story to tell.  It would be awful if it were no longer there for others.

Aylesford Priory is now in financial trouble, and, I’ve heard, could have to close.  Some of the buildings are very old old and the grounds are extensive  The place needs constant care.  I cannot get there easily myself now, but the idea of England without Aylesford priory makes my heart ache.  It gave me so much.   I give what money I can and so do many others, but it isn’t enough.  I don’t know exact details but the trouble is pretty deep.”

 Can you hele?  If you come across this post, then please consider donating whatever you can afford to,uk.


The present Prior is Father Damian Cassidy O.Carm   Email:    THE FRIARS, AYLESFORD, MAIDSTONE, KENT ME20 7BX  UNITED KINGDOM

 TEL: 01622 717272     Aylesford Priory


Aylesford Priory with my Daughters Holly and Hannah  Easter 2002


rhymeswithplague said...

Hello, Rosamund! Like others, I'm here because your sister Frances told her readers about your return to Blogworld. What a happy find! You write very well and very interestingly (is that even a word?).

My first reaction after reading several of your posts is that you and your sister are about as unlike as two peas in a pod could ever be. That is meant to be a compliment to you both, but it doesn't sound quite right even though I know what I mean, I'm just not saying it very well. I had better stop before I get into real trouble.

Rosamund Browne said...

Oh, please don't apologise. I know what you mean. Thanks for looking in. I am campaigning to help Aylesford Priory because it's done SO much for me and my family and it's such a wonderful place. If you can, would you spread the word. I realise it's not for everyone, but I can only go by how very happy I was there. I tried to leave a comment on your blog about your wonderful looking trip. but something went a bit wrong. Good for you! Sorry about my awful spelling. It's always been bad. Oddly enough it didn't look right when I posted it. I'm a bit slow at blogging but I'll get better with time