Timeline - Mucknell Abbey
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Our History: A Timeline

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William John Butler, the Tractarian vicar of Wantage, founds the Community of St Mary the Virgin (CSMV)

Early Wantage Sisters
Some of the first Wantage Sisters


Butler creates an order of Exterior Sisters (“Externs”) to assist the nascent community in work and prayer


The community welcomes priest and women Associates


The Exterior Sisters’ rule of life is altered to emphasize its spiritual aspect


The Rule is revised once again to provide for women who have been unable to pursue a Religious vocation. In October fourteen “Exterior Novices”, most of them already Externs or Associates, are admitted under the new Rule.


At their own request they are renamed Tertiaries and become the Third Order of the Community of St Mary the Virgin. The Rule is given a more secular interpretation; they decide not to wear habits and married women are invited to join. Eight Tertiaries make their Profession.


Some members seek a more conventual life and move into the lodge adjacent to St Mary’s Home in Buxted with their formator, Sr Juste CSMV.

St Mary's Home Buxted
St Mary's Home, Buxted


This experimental community breaks up due to ill-health and other circumstances.


A second attempt at forming a community of cloistered Tertiaries is made at St Thomas’ Convent in Oxford. In March four women are admitted as Postulants of the new Third Order Regular CSMV. The first Novices are clothed. In December they are re-named the Society of the Salutation of Mary the Virgin.


The Community moves to St Katharine’s, Wantage.


The Community moves again to St Agnes House, Wantage.


The Community take up residence at the Bishop’s Palace, Cuddesdon. There is a gradual shift towards Benedictine monasticism


The Society gains its independence from CSMV and acquires Burford Priory in Oxfordshire

Burford Priory
Picture postcard of Burford Priory


The first Prioress, Mother Mary Gabriel, and four other Sisters make their Solemn Vows as Benedictines.


Mother Mary Gabriel dies and is suceeded by Mother Joseph


Mother Mary Bernard is elected as the third Prioress

Mother Mary Bernard's election
Election of Mother Mary Bernard (centre) as Prioress


Mother Mary Bernard is asked whether the Community would be willing to offer space to an emerging men’s community


The decision is made to admit Thomas Quin and Robert Atwell as Postulants of SSMV, forming a mixed community


Br Stuart is elected the first Prior


The Constitution is revised and Prior Stuart becomes the first Abbot


The Community sells Burford Priory and acquires Mucknell Farm near Worcester. A temporary home is found at Broad Marston in Warwickshire.


The Community moves into the newly-built Mucknell Abbey. The monastery was dedicated by Archbishop Rowan Williams the following year.

monastery dedication
Archbishop Rowan Williams with Abbot Stuart


Br Thomas is elected as the second Abbot