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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org,uk.
THE WORLD NEEDS “THE FRARS.”
The present Prior is Father Damian Cassidy O.Carm Email: email@example.com THE FRIARS, AYLESFORD, MAIDSTONE, KENT ME20 7BX UNITED KINGDOM
TEL: 01622 717272 Aylesford Priory www.thefriars.org.uk/
Aylesford Priory with my Daughters Holly and Hannah Easter 2002