All Saints Church BansteadSt Paul's Church Nork, BansteadSt Ann's Church BansteadUnited Reformed Church BansteadMethodist Church Banstead

B5 Fellowship Weekend

at The Friars, Aylesford, Kent

Twenty-eight people representing the five Banstead churches spent a happy weekend here 8-10th September 2006. The days were fine and hot. The nights warm with a brilliant moon which flooded the grounds with silver light. The stars were visible because we were away from the street lights that obliterate their twinkle.

The Friars, Aylesford looking across the piazza
The Piazza, looking across the open-air seating to the Relic Chapel where the relics of St. Simon Stock, the founder of Carmelite Order of Friars is housed.

Our worship took place in the St. Jude chapel at end of the cloisters. On Friday evening we had evening prayers, followed by a talk about Pat’s life and ministry in Kent.

On Saturday morning Br. Laurence took us on a guided tour of the main Shrine church of the Glorious Assumption and St. Simon Stock, St. Ann’s Chapel, the Relic Chapel and St. Joseph’s Chapel. He told us about St. Simon Stock the founder of the Carmelite Order, Edith Stein, a Jewess, who became a Christian and Carmelite who was gassed at Auschwitz and the sister without a halo who represents all the saintly people we have met and influenced our lives. He told us about the Polish POW who did all the ceramic work, of carpenters and potters. The tour ended in the Rosary Way where we said the Lord’s Prayer together to remind us that we were pilgrims and not tourists.

In the afternoon we went our different ways exploring the surrounding countryside. Some went to the churches of the Medway valley. Some took the river boat to Maidstone and others went to the Museum of Kent Life to see buildings that had been brought from different parts of the County and rebuilt so that people could see what it was like to live in them years ago. The energetic walked along the river to Maidstone or caught the bus and some just ZZZZZZZZZ.

The Friars, Aylesford - group photo
Group photo

That evening we began our prayers outside the Gatehouse and then walked in silence across the Piazza to the chapel. The Friars had gone into the Choir Chapel wearing their white cloaks for Compline and as we neared the chapel they erupted out of the door to go to the Shrine to sing the Hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As they passed us they bade us ‘Good night.’ On Sunday morning Canon Alan Vousden (Vicar of St. Margaret, Rainham) and Tricia came to join the party for Mass. He preached about his life ministry in Rochester Diocese. Afterwards we gathered for a group photo on the lawn opposite the Pilgrims’ Hall.

Lunch, as all the meals was a pleasant event before returning home. The Friars is very peaceful and has a wonderful atmosphere in spite of the crowds of people that come each day.

Early morning strollers benefited from the quietness and enjoyed watching the sun burn off the early mist. The geese were expert guards, the ducks entertained anyone who cared to watch them, but all the birds were at the front of the queue when Br. Tom came to the pond with food.

Rabbits and foxes came out once darkness fell and during the day squirrels played chase in any space that was available.

Pilgrims, Brothers and staff all interacted. Children played happily in the shade, families brought picnics, little groups wandered or sat under the trees and God was Present in it all.


For the next visit see the What's On page.