Closure of retreat's a real loss to Warminster

This Is Wiltshire: Canon Harold Stephens at Ivy House, Warminster Canon Harold Stephens at Ivy House, Warminster

The Friends of Ivy House believe the closure of the retreat centre at Ivy House in Warminster is a “significant loss” for the town, after the trustees of the Community of St Denys confirmed it will shut in May.

They met with trustees at the end of last year to ask them to reconsider closing the St Denys Retreat Centre, which provides residential retreats and events for groups and individuals.

Among the reasons given by the trustees for the closure were the running costs and the need for extensive repair and renovation of the buildings over the next few years.

The trustees have now said that Ivy House will close on May 1 and while they are currently in talks with another party about taking the building on, it would not be as a retreat centre.

Canon Harold Stephens, spokesman for the Friends, said: “We have had meetings with the trustees and encouraged them to explore every other alternative. They looked at a few options, but they didn’t come to anything.

“We still believe that this has not been well handled as the reasons they are giving for the closure are not new. They have been problems for a while, so we don’t understand why this has happened so quickly.

“Lots of people believe that this is a significant loss. The users are very diverse and not everyone who uses it does so for religious reasons, some just use it for peace and quiet.

“We have had a lot of support for trying to keep it going and we are bewildered that it has come to this. We will continue to press the trustees into maintaining some sort of service in the tradition of Ivy House.”

Ivy House has been in use for more than 100 years as a mission college, convent, theological training college and, for the last 40 years, as a retreat house.

Chairman of the trustees David Prior said: “We regret to say we are closing the house to customers as of May 1.

"We are still in negotiations with another party about taking the building on, although not as a retreat centre.”

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