Pantasaph Franciscan Friary

button_lang_frenchPantasaph Franciscan Friary

This friary was founded, amid controversy, in 1852 after two aristocrats became Roman Catholics. Today the complex of buildings is home to a Franciscan community and includes St David’s Church, a retreat centre, the St Pio Peace Centre and a shop and café for visitors.

Lord Fielding, the future Earl of Denbigh, and his new wife Louisa decided to build a church at Pantasaph in thanksgiving for their marriage in 1846. As a member of the Pennant family, she had inherited large estates in the area including lands that once belonged to Basingwerk Abbey, near Holywell.

As the church was taking shape, the young couple met the Pope while travelling in Italy. In 1850 Lord and Lady Fielding became Catholics. They soon decided to give the church to Capuchin Franciscans, who had no centre in Britain. Legal action ensued, but the courts ruled that it was up to the couple to give the church to whomever they wished.

Effigies of Lord Fielding were burned by local mobs, and affronted Anglicans around Wales and England donated money for a new Anglican church in the area. There was enough to build two churches, St Paul’s at Gorsedd and St Michael’s at Brynford.

The Fieldings contracted Augustus Welby Pugin to adapt the Pantasaph church for Catholic worship. Pugin is best known for the Gothic detailing of the Houses of Parliament in London.

Initially the Franciscans, headed by the Very Rev Father Lavagna, lived in a house adjoining the church. Construction of the main monastery took from 1858 to 1865.

Lady Fielding died in Naples in May 1853, less than seven months after the opening of St David’s Church opening. Her body was embalmed and transported to the family vault in the church.

Lord Fielding remarried. After his death in Warwickshire in 1892, his body was carried by train to Holywell, from where Capuchin friars carried it to the friary and placed it in the vault.

Follow the link below to the friary’s website if you’d like more historical information or visitor information.

Postcode: CH8 8PE    View Location Map

Website of Pantasaph Franciscan Friary

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