Seven-Day Silent Retreat: 14-20 September 2024

Image: WCCM in the UK / Mark Ball

The WCCM in the UK School team are offering the opportunity for you to share in the experience of the community’s unique, week-long, immersive silent retreat.

From Saturday 14th to Friday 20th September, Joanne Caine and Alex Holmes will be leading the retreat at beautiful Whalley Abbey in Lancashire.

Each of the five full days will include a short talk, a one-to-one meeting, lectio divina, two short contemplative walks, seven times of meditation, and space for personal rest and reflection.

Set in the stunning riverside grounds of a ruined 14th Century Cistercian Abbey on the edge of a small market town, Whalley Abbey ( is the Anglican Diocese of Blackburn’s Centre for Discipleship and Prayer. Retreatants will have exclusive use of the historic house, with its comfortable ensuite bedrooms, quiet spaces, spacious gardens, and delicious food.

Image: WCCM in the UK / Alex Holmes

The silence is immersive and intensive, and retreatants commit to participating fully in the programme. The experience is particularly suitable for those who have been meditating for some time in our tradition, and who have begun to integrate meditation seriously into their daily life. It is not required, but it is helpful to have attended an Essential Teaching Workshop beforehand.

Despite the intensity of this retreat participants feel a strong connection and support among each other and with the Spirit that is being shared among them. This is an opportunity for deepening and simplifying one’s inner journey that bears much subsequent fruit in one’s life and practice.

We are grateful to the WCCM in the UK Trustees for helping us keep the price as low as possible, for this full-board, week-long experience. The cost will be £799.

A small bursary fund has been made available , details of which will be sent to all retreat applicants. Applicants are also encouraged to explore funding options available locally. If you are interested in supporting our work, or in contributing to our bursary fund, please contact the WCCM in the UK treasurer, John Reid at

To register, or enquire, please email Ailsa Adamson at

Here are some comments from last year’s retreatants:

“I’m not new to silent retreats, having done many at different venues in UK and USA. But I have to say that this one was very different. I felt that I’d allowed myself to get out of the habit of meditating twice a day and thought this week would help me to get back into a routine. I had to smile when I saw the detailed organisation of everyday from 7:00 am to 8:30 pm and I thought, “Well, if this doesn’t help nothing will!!”


The old manor house is large, so there were plenty of quiet places to sit. Plenty of benches in the garden too, but these were less helpful as there was also plenty of rain! And plenty of God? We kept clearing and waiting, Had I made a big enough space? We began to sense that the grace was already inside us. The space we make enables us to recognise the plenty already there inside.


A chance to enter into stillness over an extended period, to stop being busy, to deepen my relationship with God. It enabled me to reflect on my life, on what I want, on where my treasure lies.


I particularly appreciated staying in the beautiful and comfortable Jacobean house, with the ruined monastery adjoining it.


It was with some trepidation that I booked for the silent retreat at Whalley Abbey. Could this be the right step when my meditation practice seemed so fragmented, disrupted by work and other commitments? The answer is a definite yes!


The daily one-to-one meeting gave freedom to mention various concerns, prompting me to ponder these and leaving me in a better place.


Image: WCCM in the UK / Mark Ball

I had never gone on a silent retreat before. I was open and half-excited for the encounter. I thought that it would not be all plain sailing though, and I anticipated that murky waters might be stirred. But I welcomed this… I left Whalley Abbey with a renewed sense of call. Light had shone on hidden treasure within.


“Having a concentrated period of silence would be difficult to achieve on one’s own and everyone’s motivation and company serves to hold this space. The aim is to reduce distractions and mental stimulation as we are trying to move from being in our heads to being centred in our hearts.

Mark Ball


Air soft, water soft,
Clouds hinting at rain or sun,
Dew on grass, bird song.

Monastic remnants,
Now colonized by plant life,
Something new, alive.

Rooks calling, cows bellow,
Fresh breeze, a single leaf falls,
Autumn approaches.



Image: WCCM in the UK / Mark Ball

in this abbey
ruined by
is deconstructing
once babel-built
to capture
time served
once more uncloistered
incised in
rock words fail
monks’ graves
their end no longer
stone wiped clean of
meaning pushed
aside and
space awaits still hushed

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