THE College of St Barnabas, Lingfield, in Surrey, is a
residential community for retired Anglican clergy and their
Founded by Canon William Cooper, it started in 1895 with one
dwelling; it now has eight flats for couples, 20 for singles, and a
The author and speaker Adrian Plass is a patron. "I first got
involved because the warden, Fr Howard Such, pursued me like a
bloodhound, and would not let up until I said I'd be a patron," he
says. "I was also very intrigued by a collection of ancient
Anglican ministers gathered together in one place."
The college can bring valuable security to the lives of clergy
at the point of their retirement. "I know when they reach the end
of their time at churches, a lot of ministers get very troubled on
a number of levels," Mr Plass says. "These might be practical, or
financial. There is a very prominent promise by the college that no
one will ever be turned away because of financial problems."
Crucially, clergy and their spouses can move in before their
property has been sold, removing a great deal of stress. Despite
the enormous life-change that leaving a vocation brings, Mr Plass
believes that the College of St Barnabas is a place where retired
clergy can retain a sense of identity. "It's a place where you can
continue to be who you are, to keep on the mantle of your calling,
because you're among people who understand what you've done."
Legacies are vital, Mr Plass says, especially since no one is
denied a place for lack of funds. "It couldn't possibly survive on
the amounts that are paid by the people who come; so they are
pretty reliant on donations. Legacies give the college security for
the future. It's an ongoing task to make sure there's enough
finance to support that."
Mr Plass says that the college is a place of real engagement.
Community life revolves around worship, and there are three
services a day; there is a well-equipped library, and a variety of
activities for residents. "There are groups that meet who argue -
sometimes, I gather, very vociferously - about theological topics,"
he says. "The fact that it's called a college means that there's a
sense of progress, of its being alive - of its not being a place
where people go to finish, but a place where they go to
"At St Barnabas, what they want is for these people who've
worked so hard all their lives to advance into a living body of
people who will help them stay alert and bright."
Mr Plass feels that legacy gifts touch individual lives for the
better. "People always talk about the big picture in the Christian
Church, but the Jesus way is always the little picture. What
legacies have achieved is that the Reverend Thingy Whatsit is
living in a flat at St Barnabas; that's the most important thing in