7 Marine Hill
Clevedon BS21 7PP
Historic Building Open-day
A bell rings out
Every day at midday passers-by near Hill Road will hear the tolling of a solitary bell. It is the daily call to Clevedon’s Franciscan Friars to recite the Angelus – a prayer celebrating Jesus Christ becoming man. For centuries the Angelus bell had a deep significance for everyday people in England; it used to be rung three times a day at 6 a.m., midday and 6 p.m. Today few of us will have heard of the tradition or even notice the daily reminder to pray.
The Friars live as a small community in their friary near the junction of Hill Road and Marine Parade. There is also a church there, dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which they built with the help of the Catholic residents of Clevedon nearly 140 years ago. The church houses the Angelus bell and the bell itself can be seen from Hill Road looking towards the west, above the trees and rooves that create the skyline at the end of the street.
Arrival of French Franciscans
The first Franciscan friars arrived in Clevedon in June 1882. They were members of the order fleeing France in the face of new laws curbing the power of the church in that country. The religious community grew rapidly as more young men joined the order and started their training (novitiate) in Clevedon. In 1883 the order purchased the former Royal Hotel to convert and use as their friary. The original building has since been demolished and the site redeveloped as private housing.
Re-establishing a church
Clevedon had been without a Roman Catholic Church for 350 years and the numbers of the public joining the Friars for worship in the friary were small at first. Yet within three years work started to build a church on the site of a part of the friary building damaged by fire. The foundation stone was laid in February 1886 and the building completed in only 18 months.
On Saturday 21st September from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. the parish will hold a special open-day for the general public to visit the church. It will be an opportunity to learn about the building of the church and to view the beautiful stained glass windows that decorate it. Guides will be on hand to explain the history and the rich symbolism embodied in the architecture and illustrated in the windows. There will be light refreshments provided and space for those simply seeking a quiet place away from the bustle of Saturday shopping.
If you would like to be involved – please contact Anthony Palmer or the Parish Office
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