For a century and a half, Ascot Priory was the mother house of the Society of the Most Holy Trinity, the first of the Religious Orders re-founded in the Church of England after the Reformation. It began as The Sisterhood of the Holy Cross in Park Village, North London, in 1845 – within just twelve years of the beginning of the Oxford Movement and the start of the revival of catholic life in the Church of England.
In 1856 the Sisterhood of the Holy Cross amalgamated with Priscilla Lydia Sellon’s Devonport Society (founded in 1848), under the title of The Congregation of Religious of the Society of the Most Holy Trinity.
The property at Ascot was purchased with the aid of gifts from Mother Lydia’s father and the Revd Dr E. B. Pusey, and the present buildings – in 40 acres of beautiful woodland and gardens – were begun in 1860, with the aim of supporting the London hospitals by providing convalescent care in healthy surroundings.
The history of the Community – like so many founded during the high-water mark of Anglicanism in the 19th century – has been long and honourable and the sisters responded to various needs as circumstances demanded, from nursing during the dreadful cholera epidemics which plagued the nineteenth century to sending sisters to accompany Miss Florence Nightingale to the Crimea, from the convalescent nursing home to the orphanage at St Christopher’s, from St Augustine’s School at Ascot to St Dunstan’s School in Plymouth and the schools in Honolulu. Over the years the Community adapted to changing times and needs, but underpinning all its work was the daily round of worship in the Catholic Tradition of the Church of England, the care of souls and the monastic custom of welcoming guests.