If prayer must be balanced by work, work cannot be separated from the life of prayer. The everyday tasks of a normal household are as much a part of Carmelite daily routine as they are of any other home. In the silence of these working hours we find an opportunity to remain in our Lord’s presence, turning our hearts and minds to him. Ours is a busy and fruitful life whose contemplative dimension is supported by the structure of our timetable and by constant recall to periods of worship and prayer during the course of the day.
Each Sister takes her share in the various tasks of the monastery, contributing in this way to the smooth running of the whole. Whatever responsibilities she may have been assigned become her way of serving others and an expression of her love for each one.
Young and old all have an important contribution to make. As Saint Teresa wrote: “helping with household chores and working at even the lowliest tasks are all ways of serving the Guest who comes to be with us and eat and recreate in our company,” (Way of Perfection)
TRADE AND CRAFT WORK
The Carmel undertakes various forms of trade and craftwork which contribute to our livelihood. Details of individual products can be found under Quidenham Cards and on the Crafts & Books pages of this website.
The sales generated by ©Quidenham Cards are the monastery’s primary source of earned income. This is a flourishing business in greetings cards that engages the creative and management skills of many of the sisters. A number of our card designs are produced by the community and include seasonal subjects at Christmas and Easter as well as other forms of greeting. The Sisters are entirely responsible for managing orders and for packing and distribution, both to individual customers and to many retreat houses, churches, shops and hospitals across Britain.
We have accommodation for a small number of guests, who are welcomed and cared for by the Guest Sister during their stay with us. Visitors to Quidenham find the peace of the monastery and the beauty of the surrounding countryside an ideal setting for a time of personal, spiritual refreshment, rest and prayer. There is a guest chapel facing the nuns’ choir where visitors who wish to attend Mass or any of the liturgical Offices can join us.
For full details about Guest Accommodation, please follow the link to the Hospitality page.
ART AND CRAFTS
Other products produced and sold by the community include various forms of art and craft work. Queries about, or orders for most of these products can be submitted through the links provided on the Crafts&Books pages.
Icons of traditional subjects come from the workshop of two of our Sisters and examples of their work can be viewed on the pages dedicated to Handpainted Icons. Each icon is created individually to the customer’s specifications and is intended as a personal focus for contemplation and prayer. Icons are “written” onto gessoed wood panel, painted in tempera, and may additionally be gilded. Both our iconographers, who share many years experience between them, are willing to take a limited number of commissions each year.
For further details please follow the link to Handpainted Icons under Crafts & Books.
We also produce reproduction ikons in various sizes. These consist of good quality printed reproductions of well-known ikons, mounted on wood and varnished, which make popular devotional aids. They can be bought by visitors to the monastery or ordered online. A catalogue is available for download.
For further details please follow the link to Mounted Ikons under Crafts & Books.
Sister Deirdre Corfe is an artist who entered Carmel in 1969 and has since had the opportunity to continue painting. She studied art at Winchester and the Bath Academy of Art, going on to teach for a while before answering her call to the Carmelite vocation. Primarily a landscape artist, the countryside around the monastery has provided her with a constant source of joy and inspiration. In recent years she has had several exhibitions of her work, both in Norwich and other venues in the UK. Sister Deirdre welcomes interested enquiries from anyone wishing to inspect her current portfolio or with a view to purchasing her paintings.
To view examples of Deirdre Corfe’s work please follow the link to Paintings in the Crafts&Books pages.
The hand-embroidered items of Sister Teresa Keswick, often featuring detailed studies of natural life, have given immense delight and pleasure to the customers who have commissioned them. She has been sewing fluently since the age of six and, in recent years, has done embroidery for both private customers and churches. Her work includes altar frontals for St Andrew’s church, Little Barningham (Norfolk); the chapel at Hatfield House (Hertfordshire); St Andrew’s church, Much Hadham (Hertfordshire); and the Roman Catholic church in Wymondham (Norfolk). She has also created decorative work such as wall hangings, cushion covers and bedspreads.
To view examples of embroidered work please follow the link to Embroidery in the Crafts & Books pages.
MONASTERY GARDEN SOAPS AND BALMS
Our handmade organic soaps contain flowers, leaves and herbs from the monastery garden or honey from our bees. Our hand balms and lip balms are made with Quidenham beeswax from the monastery hives. We are a member of the Guild of Craft Soap and Toiletry Makers.
You can buy our products from our self-service shop in our monastery church porch, where you can pay by cash or cheque payable to ‘Carmelite Monastery’. We regret that we are no longer able to send orders by post.
Rag rug making is a traditional art that has enjoyed a recent revival in Britain. Formerly it used to be a popular and creative way of passing the winter months in the homes of the poor. Often ornamented with simple designs, these rugs are now recognised to be an authentic form of folk art. Rug making was introduced to Quidenham in 2013 and was quickly taken up by some of the Sisters who have not only derived immense enjoyment from it but have been able to turn it into a profitable venture. Please contact us if you would be interested in viewing or ordering samples of our work:
The monastery has been beekeeping for many years and Quidenham Honey is unquestionably a favourite purchase. Unfortunately we are not licensed to to sell our honey online and cannot distribute it by post. However, visitors to the monastery will find jars of honey available for sale in the reception area in season. It is a case of ‘first come, first served’ while the supplies last so choose the time of your visit carefully!