The visit was very well organised and during the morning coffee we were introduced to the history of this venerable Abbey. Leaflets were available outlining 2-3 prayer walks around the grounds along with a guide to the site of the Abbey ruins. Two other groups attended during the day – ‘Roots of Faith’ and another group called the ‘Alpha Holy Spirit Day.’
After exploring the grounds by ourselves, we met up for a short discussion by the Reverend Daniel Valentine. This centred around our faith and how comfortable we are as individuals in professing our faith to others. We then enjoyed a refreshing lunch, after which we explored the partly medieval main house with its Tudor windows and rooms for quiet reflection and prayer.
In the house there is a scale model of how the Abbey looked before it’s destruction during the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.
St Anne’s group met up for afternoon tea before we made our way to the remains of the high altar of the Abbey Church. The foundation stones are still visible, and our vicar Hugh chose to conduct the Eucharist there, at 4pm in the open air.
We were joined by the other two groups we’d met earlier in the day for the service – a fitting and beautiful end to our visit, after a calm and spiritually uplifting day.
Whalley Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey set in the beautiful countryside of the Ribble Valley. It is a retreat centre and a place of welcome, hospitality and prayer.