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Hello from St Oswald’s – June 2020

News from Paul & Jackie Reily

We hope that you are keeping well in these difficult times. We pray for you often.

As many of you know, we had planned to travel this summer after being at Scargill House for five and a half years. We were going to visit friends and explore many places in the UK. Obviously, that’s not been possible. We were due to begin work at St. Oswald’s, Sleights, in October. We got as far as Harrogate before Lockdown began!

The sisters at St. Oswald’s very generously said that we could live in a cottage in the grounds and so we came and so we remain.

It’s been said that there are two ways to know the world – to travel widely or to stay in one place and travel deeply. It’s been our privilege to be here and ‘travel deeply’.

Although disappointed that our plans have changed we feel a deep sense of peace and contentment. St. Oswald’s gardeners were furloughed as we arrived and so we have spent our days getting to know the garden. We’ve had a lot of fun pruning fruit bushes and planting new ones; setting up a watering system for the garden;  sowing seeds and planting in the greenhouses; renovating the rhubarb patch; pruning shrubs and making a large (hopefully rabbit proof) fenced vegetable plot.

Strangely, it’s also been a time to get to know a few local people. Colin, the bee keeper, has given us some of his beautiful honey, collected from the St. Oswald’s bees and Jamie, a local farmer, has delivered thirteen free pallets, so that we can construct some compost bins.

We’ve lived under the illusion that the more we work the less we’ll ache! Sadly that’s not true – although we’re getting stronger by the week. Yes, it’s very hard work. But we’ve also taken time to stop, pausing to listen to the bees, admire the apple blossom, congratulate ourselves on beautifully weeded beds. We live a simple, quiet, rhythm of sleeping, eating, praying, working, standing back and considering, and relaxing. It’s good for us and we suspect that it’s teaching us something about the pattern of life at St. Oswald’s ‘post lockdown’. We also think that it is shaping what we will be able to offer our guests in the autumn and beyond.

Thank you for all the ways that you have shown interest in our future here. We couldn’t do it without those who have lived and prayed here over so many years; nor could we do it without your support. We look forward to telling you about the ‘what next’ when we have a clearer idea about it. We suspect, but of course cannot say for sure, that we will be able to open in November as planned, on a self-catering basis, until all hospitality venues are able to open fully. We’ll see! If you are not already on our mailing list, please do send us an email ( and we arrange that for you. That way we can let you know when we have news of opening and what we can offer.

Little is certain, but we do know this is where we are meant to be and that it will be a place of homecoming for many.

Much love

Paul and Jackie