Opening up access for retreats at St Beuno's
by Roger Dawson SJ
For the last year, St Beuno’s has been covered in scaffolding as part of the redevelopment of the retreat house. Last week saw the first fruits of this work with the opening of the new entrance hall by the Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in Britain, Fr Damian Howard SJ.
The newly-opened entrance was actually the original entrance to St Beuno’s when the house was built in 1848 for Jesuits studying theology. But in living memory, entry to the house has been from the courtyard on the other side of the building.
As well as giving a much better sense of ‘arrival’ to St Beuno’s, the new entrance provides much-improved disabled access that will allow more people to attend retreats and other events.
So far, the redevelopment has seen repair work to the chapel and the South Wing and included the construction of a new boiler house.
Next year will see the construction of four disabled-access bedrooms, a large meeting room on the site of the old boiler house, new kitchens, and a new entrance to the chapel from the current kitchen corridor.
Thankfully, the house has not had to close down during this disruption, with retreatants showing remarkable patience and understanding. As one said: “It shows care and that there is a future, so really these are signs of love and hope”.
Architect, Rob Chambers, Llion Scott (surveyor), and builders T.G. Williams, were all present at the ceremony together with the interior designers, Simon Knox and Helen Lewis, as well as the workmen, the St Beuno’s team and some of the retreatants.