Save the Darlington Carmelite Paintings

Thank you for looking at this project. I hope that you will feel able to help us reach our target for the repair and restoration of two, large paintings, now badly damaged, that were originally part of an Altar in the English Carmelite Monastery in Lierre, in modern Belgium. The paintings date from the early 1600s and were brought to England in 1794 by the nuns who eventually settled in Darlington, in what became the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.

There are now just 3 nuns left in the community at Darlington. At 6 feet high, the paintings are too large for the small house sisters now occupy. The long term goal is that the paintings can be repaired, restored and, for the first time in their 400 year history, be displayed in public. Where the spirituality that inspired them can be explored and the story, given here of their journey can be told. Their story brings alive and gives insight into a turbulent period in the religious and social history of England and Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries..

The panels are now in a poor condition, torn, scratched and some paint is flaking off the canvases. An art Conservator has assessed them and the recommended work to preserve them will cost £4780 for the painting of Saint John of The Cross and £6220 for that of Saint Teresa of Avila. There is a carriage charge of £330 and VAT of £1472.9 giving a grand total of 12802.0

The Monastery in Lierre, where the panels were part of an elaborate Altar piece, was established for English women in the 1648. At this time the Roman Catholic Church was suppressed in The British Isles and monasteries had been disbanded.  Many Catholics and religious orders had fled to the Continent in order to practise their faith. The Discalced Carmelites, as a young order, were just founding houses at this time. New foundations were made especially for English women who felt called to serve God in monastic life unavailable in their home Country.

In 1790 the revolutionary Government of France ordered the closure of Monasteries. The Monasteries in Belgium were also suppressed at this time.

1794, was a very significant year for nuns in France and Belgium. First, sixteen Discalced Carmelite nuns of Compiegne, France were accused of living in a religious community. They were taken to Paris and sentenced to death by guillotine. As martyrs they were beatified in 1906 by Pope St. Pius X.

In England, King George III brought about the end of state of persecution of Roman Catholicism and Catholics were invited to return from the Continent.

The nuns in the Province of Antwerp, which included the Lierre sisters, were warned of a plot to arrest them.

The sisters fled to England, taking with them, what they could of the Monastery goods, including these paintings of the co-founders of their order.

Although state persecution of Roman Catholicism had ended in England, not all welcomed the return of Catholics. This was especially so in the south of the country. With this in mind the Sisters soon made their way north eventually settling in Darlington in 1830. The Panels were displayed in the Monastery enclosure without public access.

We hope to raise sufficient funds to enable the preservation and public display of these paintings.

Donations

  • Anonymous 
    • £30 
    • 1 mo
  • Anonymous 
    • £400 
    • 3 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • £20 
    • 3 mos
  • Carmelite Monastery Quidenham 
    • £100 
    • 4 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • £60 
    • 4 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Maureen Keniry 
Organizer
Washington, North East England, United Kingdom
Francis Rowe Carmelite Convent 
Beneficiary
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