New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
News >

Hermitage appeals to prevent eviction

by Rebecca Paveley

ONE of a small number of hermits in the Church of England is to be forced out of her home, unless a last-minute appeal can raise enough money to keep her there.

Karen Markham, who is 44, has lived at the Hermitage of Divine Wisdom in Acton, Shropshire, for six years. Last year, she was formally consecrated to a solitary life of prayer and contemplation by the then Bishop of Ludlow, the Rt Revd Michael Hooper, who remains the patron of the hermitage.

Bishop Hooper said: “It is of infinite value to have a solitary living in the community with this voca­tion, which supports us all and never allows us to forget God.”

Ms Markham, a musician and former lecturer at Leeds College of Music, began her spiritual training in a Sufi community in the United States. She has also studied the East­ern Orthodox eremitical tradition. Her spiritual practice combines Anglican and Orthodox Christianity with Sufi wisdom.

She rises at 4.30 a.m. each day to chant the divine names and the name of Jesus. Her life consists of prayer, keeping a cottage garden, and weaving hand-loomed rugs using wool from local sheep.

The hermitage had been lent to Ms Markham by a benefactor, but the global financial crisis has forced him to put the building, which consists of a cottage and a piggery converted into a small chapel, up for sale. Ms Markham will have to leave in September, unless the £220,000, needed to buy it can be raised.

Clerics in the area are actively supporting the appeal. The Rural Dean of Clun Forest, Prebendary Richard Shaw, said local people were also backing Ms Markham. Last week, she introduced a church near by to the practice of the chanting of the divine names. “It was a very moving experience,” he said.

Ms Markham said: “As a hermit, people haven’t really seen me close up — I have been getting on with praying — but people are now beginning to approach me. My work in the community is really beginning to blossom now, and it takes years to build up the kind of trust to allow that to happen.”

She is inspired by another hermit in the C of E, Sister Ruth, who is under the patronage of the Arch­bishop of Canterbury.

The concert pianist Martin Roscoe will be giving free recitals in aid of the hermitage appeal. The first is scheduled for 30 June at Walcot Hall, Lydbury North, in Shropshire.

For details of the appeal, phone Karen Markham on 01588 630057.Cheques can be made payable to "Hermitage of Divine Wisdom" and sent to Hermitage of Divine Wisdom, Llysty, Acton, Bishop's Castle, Shropshire, SY9 5LA

Job of the week

Chief Executive

London and Home Counties

Sons & Friends of the Clergy CHIEF EXECUTIVE Circa £85,000 • London Sons & Friends of the Clergy is at an exciting point in its history. After a recent merger the organisation has settle...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Clowning glory

Clowning glory

Clowns are having a bad press, but they represent an ancient and holy tradition, Pat Ashworth discovers  Subscribe to read more

Top comment

Not the comfy chair!

Decisions about pews and reordering reveal the very purpose of a church, argues William Whyte  Subscribe to read more

Thu 20 Oct 16 @ 19:09
RT @malcolmguitejust been sent the pdf of my comment piece on #Dylan and the #Nobel prize for the @ChurchTimes - look forward to the ensuing discussion!

Thu 20 Oct 16 @ 18:05
In tomorrow's Church Times: clowning with the Holy Fools, #OpusAnglicanum at the @V_and_A & we interview @PeteGreig