The Portiuncula, St Clare’s Convent

St Clare's interior

Set amidst a westerly view of the stunning Derbyshire Peak District, the Portiuncula was commissioned by the Franciscan Minoress Sisters to provide a hermitage annexed to their existing convent.

The principles of the design required that the building was to embody the philosophy of St Francis of Assisi. The brief required that the centre would allow people to visit and stay in a serene environment with the option of either engaging in social support groups or individual contemplation.

The layout reflects the Franciscan philosophy of contemplative prayer, service and fraternity and includes five study bedrooms or hermitages, a communal dining and living space, contemplation space, a private chapel and peace garden.

The building has a sedum green roof and the chapel carves seamlessly into the landscape to reduce visual impact. The locally sourced materials including Derbyshire stone reflect its rural location. The project was developed in collaboration with stained-glass artist Cate Watkinson.

“Ellis Williams Architects designed our Hermitage building with great sensitivity, empathy and commitment to fulfilling our vision for this purpose-built project.”

Sister Patricia Jordan