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Saint Hugh's Parkminster

Part 1 Dissertation 1999
Michael Levey
University of Brighton | UK
In 1997 while researching for my proposed design thesis project, a residential college of homeopathic medicine to be set in the Lake District, I first stumbled across Saint Hugh's of Parkminster, the only functioning Carthusian monastery in Britain. The fact that this massive building lay hidden in the Sussex Weald on the other side of the Downs, that it was apparently well nigh impossible to visit and that it had never been properly documented added to its potential as the focus for a detailed study. I managed to make contact with one of the brothers and, accompanied by my tutor, set out on a preliminary visit. Waiting for us was one of the largest monastic complexes in Britain with the largest cloister in Europe. Questions poured forth: under what circumstances had this Charterhouse been founded? in what way did it respond to the ideals and rituals of this unique religious order? how had this massive chunk of French Romanesque revival architecture come to be built in this quiet corner of Sussex? how did it function today, more than a century after its foundation? To answer these questions I delved into the available literature, using amongst other sources, the monastery's own library and archives. I was also able to spend two short periods living in the monastery and talking with brothers about their life and work and about the history of their order. The results of these investigations form the basis of my dissertation.

Bibliographical References:

BRAUNFELS, Wolfgang, Monasteries of Western Europe, London: Thames & Hudson, 1972
BROOKE, Christopher, The Monastic World, Elektra, 1974
FARMER, David Hugh, Saint Hugh of Lincoln, Darton Longman Todd, 1985
GIBBONS, JW, Architecture of the Chartreux, University of New South Wales, 1971
LEE, JD, Carthusians - An Historical and Spiritual Study, London: Henry VI Society, 1981
LEFEBRE, FA, La Chartreuse de Notre Dame des Pros
Neuville, Paris: Bray et Petaux, 1881

Michael Levey

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