Community of St Clare (OSC)

Introduction to the community

We follow a contemplative tradition that is eight hundred years old with a fresh and informal spirit. In the pattern of St Clare, hierarchy is tempered by mutuality and warm relations within the community. As the Second Order of the international Society of St Francis, we have brothers and sisters in the First and Third Orders, and we enjoy close, though informal, ties with the Roman Catholic Poor Clares.

Our worship and prayer throughout the day are interspersed with domestic tasks in the convent and guest house, and environmentally friendly work in the large garden and grounds where we raise fruit and vegetables to eat, and keep hens who give us eggs. We also engage in our industries (altar breads, printing, cards) which with the guest house help us to earn our living, and where possible to share with others.

Responding to God’s call in our daily lives within the enclosure, we also enjoy visitors, holidays and the use of books, newspapers and the internet for a wider view of daily life.

Women seriously interested in the contemplative life (with or without the intention of joining the community) are welcome to take part for up to a year in our life of Franciscan simplicity and joy.

Freeland chapel at Easter

Contact details

01993 881225

Address: St Mary’s Convent, 178 Wroslyn Road, Freeland, Witney, OX29 8AJ, UK

Community information

Date of foundation:

Bishop Protector: Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark



Petà Dunstan, This Poor Sort, DLT, London 1997, pp 157-167


Abbess: Sister Paula Fordham OSC
Assumed office May 2016



Sister Alison Francis Hamilton
Sister Carolin Clare Clapperton
Sister Kathleen Marie Staggs
Sister Mary Kathleen Kearns
Sister Mary Margaret Broomfield
Sister Susan Elisabeth Leslie

Members who have died since the last Yearbook:

26 Aug 2017 – Sister Damien Davies, aged 69, professed 41 years, Abbess 2013-2016