Staying in a Monastery - The Positives and Negatives

Having always thought that you needed to be ultra religious to stay in a monastery, I now realise that isn't the case although a tolerance and respect of others' beliefs is understandably expected.

st francis of assisi statue at hilfield
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Having recently returned from a stay at Hilfield Friary in Dorset, I am now going to let you into a few more secrets, just in case you were thinking about visiting a religious order. Granted, friary life isn't for everyone but here are the positives and negatives.

Let's start with the Positives:

  • Peace and quiet.  With no television and poor mobile phone reception it was blissfully quiet and totally relaxing.
Total peace and quiet
Total peace and quiet

  • Hilfield is in a beautiful part of Dorset surrounded by stunning views and great walks and it's OK in a place like this to just stop and let the views take your breath away.
  • No light pollution.  Yes that does mean it's very dark but it also means that the skies are amazingly starry.
  • Change of pace.  Life is so frantic and busy in the cities, it really is a chance to get away from it all and visit historic villages like Cerne Abbas and its famous chalk giant.
Cerne Abbas Giant as seen on the walk from Hilfield to Cerne Abbas
Cerne Abbas Giant as seen on the walk from Hilfield to Cerne Abbas

  •  Not an expensive option.  At Hilfield they suggest £25 per person per night for self catering and £40 for full board but they will never turn any traveller away who can't afford that much.
  • Praying is not essential, although you are more than welcome to join them in any of their services.
  • Strangers become friends.  How often have you said 'hello' to a stranger in the city?  I bet you could count the number of times on one hand. Volunteering with the community at Hilfield, even for a few hours, will reward you with new friends.
Helping out with dismantling the marquee
Helping out with dismantling the marque 

OK.  Now for the negatives.  

Well I couldn't actually find any but if you don't like peace and quiet, rural settings or the dark, then it's probably not the place for you.

Have you ever stayed at a monastery?  What did you like and dislike about it?

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