Page last updated at 09:38 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 10:38 UK

Monks set to leave historic abbey

St Augustine's Abbey
The abbey was built in 1861 to house 40 monks

An order of monks in Kent is planning to leave its historic abbey after 148 years because it has too few members to meet the running costs.

The Benedictine Monks of St Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate, said they voted to leave after "a long process of discussion and discernment".

The 11 monks said they could no longer maintain the abbey, which was designed by Edward Pugin to house 40 people.

The order said it would be launching an appeal for funds for the move.

'Architectural significance'

Abbot Paulinus Greenwood said: "We are united in our search for a new site which will enable us to live an authentic, balanced, monastic life of prayer, work, and study, according to the spirit of the sixth-century Rule of St Benedict, and to share that way of life with others who feel truly called to it.

"We look to promote the enduring values of Benedictine monasticism and plan to extend and develop our existing guest ministry to offer residential and non-residential hospitality to groups and individuals, both men and women.

"We also hope to offer structured retreats, educational courses and spiritual and intellectual study days."

The abbey was designed by Edward Pugin, the son of renowned Gothic-revival architect Augustus Pugin, and built in 1861.

The first Benedictine Monks arrived in Ramsgate from the Italian monastery of Subiaco in 1856.

A spokesman for the order said: "The abbot and community sincerely hope that whoever acquires the abbey property will show sensitivity to its historical and architectural significance, and be mindful of its importance locally as part of the cultural heritage of the wider Pugin family legacy."

Earlier this year the monks launched a website to help sell the Sanctuary products they make from the beeswax their colony of bees produces.

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