IVY HOUSE retreat centre in Wiltshire is to close on 1 May,
after months of uncertainty over its future.
The Friends of Ivy House had sought to reverse an earlier
decision to close the retreat house (News, 6 December), but
Canon Harold Stephens, spokesman for the Friends, said this week
that they had failed to find a way forward.
The chairman of the Trustees, David Prior, said that the
decision had been taken with great sadness, but they could no
longer afford the six-figure sum needed to keep the retreat house
There is a possibility, however, that the Trustees may consider
buying a smaller retreat house for "individual" retreats with the
proceeds of the sale, he said.
"The tough decision was taken to close it and use our funds in
other areas of mission. Indeed, the Community of St Denys was
founded on the principles of mission and education, and a working
party has been set up to explore the way forward. We might even
consider the purchase of a much smaller house in the vicinity (with
lower running costs) for individual retreats - an avenue we are
Mr Prior said that Ivy House was losing £10,000 a month, and
that "as responsible Trustees, we have to live in the real world
and accept this couldn't go on."
Ivy House had originally been bought to provide a missionary
college for the Sisters of the Community of St Denys. It was later
turned into a retreat centre, which was originally run by the
remaining Sisters. But, as they became toofew in number, employed
staff had to take over running the retreat house.
In a statement, the Trustees said that the "rambling" building
was no longer suitable for elderly or infirm guests, and that
modernisation and repairs could not be afforded.
The Trustees are currently in negotiations with Warminster
School, whose land and property surround the retreat house.
They said: "The Trustees have throughout their deliberations
consulted those most involved and most able to help, including the
remaining Sisters, the members of the Community (two of whom are
trustees), and the Bishops of Salisbury and Ramsbury. They have had
very much in mind that for some the loss of Ivy House will bring
sorrow. But they have had to keep in mind that, though there are
many who are devoted to the Centre as a place for retreats, change
is part of the natural order of Christian faith and life. . .
"It is with the deepest regret that the Trustees have decided to
close the centre. But the Trustees have reached the firm conclusion
that the time has come to move on to different ways of using the
financial resources of the Community to fulfil the mission of the
Community of St Denys."