The name Prinknash probably conjures up a mental picture of a monk working over a potter's wheel but nothing could be further from the truth. The new pottery production unit, tea room and shop situated in the 210-acre Prinknash Park, set on the slopes of the Cotswold Hills overlooking the Severn Valley, was officially opened by Mr Anthony Kershaw, Conser, votive MP for Stroud, on April 25 this year.
The building cost over £200,000, took 18 months to complete and provides over 90 per cent of all Prinknash revenue.
The Abbot of Prinknash since 1961, Dom Dying Rushton, OSB, said that Prinknash Pottery was a commercial enterprise and not a casual spare time occupation for the monks. Profits are to be used for the building of an abbey church and the restoration of the old abbey, which is being made into a retreat centre.
Fr Abbot said that he hoped a worthwhile contribution would be donated each year to help the needs of the underdeveloped countries of the third world. Incense, candles and vestments are also made and the abbey has a fine vegetable garden and farm. They are, however, careful at Prinknash not to become overcommercialised and visitors — there were nearly 250,000 last year — are not charged for admission to the abbey grounds or pottery.
The pottery production unit contains four highly mechanised gas kilns with a turnround time of only 24 hours, against the 40 or so hours required by the older electric ones. Most of the production is earthenware with the exception of a small number of handthrown stoneware pieces. In particular the pewter glazed mugs, vases and jugs have become synonymous with the name of Prinknash, which also produces intricate handpainted. gilded gift items.
Designs are constantly being added to and the latest venture is an attractive "Monastic" range of tableware which includes coffee sets, casseroles, bowls and plates, available in
Abhe Brown, C ranham Green and Cotswold Stone. The designs are 'base( "I on the pittance bowl used bis ' the monks in the refectory.
About 20 per cent of all production goes im exports to .the United States, Canada and Australia. Mr Mich, ad l Hawkes, who started as an apprent ice at the pottery in 1952 and is now general manager, sa id thisy did very little trade wi th Europe because at present they could not cope with existin g markets. Order books are full unlit well into next year.
Three members of the community of 38 monks (1'2 priests) are directors of the pottery. They are Er Abbot, Fr Leo (Burser) and Brother Thomas, the chief designer, who has worked in the pottery since its inception in 1942 folio wing the discovery three years e arlier, of fine clay on the abbey grounds during excavations for the new monastery. Today all c1ay used at Prinknash comes fr om the potteries.
An important feature of the new building is the uiewing gallery which runs its lemath and allows the numerous visi tors to see pottery produced, u iithout disturbing production. Ab.out 40 people now work at the pc ntery, self-service tea room (whit th can seat 205 people at a time ) and pottery shop, which sells both firsts and seconds. " Fortunately, seconds only urn Lount to about 10 per cent of pre ,duction though it really depenc is on how many trainees you ha ye," said Mr Hawkes.
Originally it was the monks who worked the pottery wh ich used to be housed in a elusteiof small wooden huts, but prodi lction ground to a halt every time they attended a service, so I ay labour was introduced, i ncluding the introduction this year of 12 female operatives.
There are guided tours round the pottery on Monday to Friday, Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons and th e pottery shop is open until 6 pin every day.
Belgian Let Live plan
The organisation Let Live now has seven branches helping pregnant girls, and a similar ser• Nice is shortly to start in Belgium after a visit to Britain by a Brussels priest.
' The Let Live newsletter reported this week that Dr
Mary Belton, a London doctor and one of the founders of the two-year-old telephone service, had been visited by Fr Gielen, who already runs a Samaritan type service for those in distress in Brussels.
lie is now planning a similar scheme for pregnant girls, offer ing them help and accommodation in the same way as Let Live.
Volunteers, specially trained women who stand by a telephone for two hours every evening. are extending their service to baby-sitting for and befriending the single mother and her child, who are often /cry isolated.
They are developing closer relations with mother and baby homes in their areas, whose staff and residents also tend to he cut off from their neighbourhoods. This week the Let Live committee met to plan the placing of advertisements in magazines such as Private Eye, Honey and Petticoat, as well as in free magazines distributed on the street to young women office workers.
Let Live branches helping girls with accommodation and finance exist in Hartlepool, Sunderland, Liverpool, Kingston and Sutton. In London the telephone number is 01-231 0271 (between 8 p.m. and 10 P.m.).
Powerful support for the World Council of Churches. and particularly its programme to combat racism, has come from an Anglican source, Bishop John Bickersteth, Suffragan Bishop of Warrington.
Speaking at the Liverpool diocesan synod last Saturday, he said that while the Methodist conference had demonstrated its social conscience by donating .£1,000 to the fund, the Church of England once More appeared to be "the Tory Party at prayer" by its decision last week to reduce its budgeted block grant by £1,000,
The Bishop told diocesan syn
od members he wanted to "grasp the programme to combat racism nettle which is hurting a lot of Christians in this country at the present time." "The fact is that many a churchman in the pew is bewildered by the programme, and a few are extremely angry about it," he said.
The programme was only one small activity of the World Council, which had a vast involvement in rehabilitation and relief, and was concerned with worship, study, education, unity. international affairs and Literature , these were the mainstream tasks of the council.
"Also, we must not concentrate too hard on the bad name the W.C.C. has got in some quarters because of the programme. Jesus Christ got a had name too," he said. "What we must address ourselves to is whether or not the programme is in accordance with the mind of Christ. Does it witness to him as Lord of all?" The questiOn to ask was whether racism in any form, black or white, should be tolerated by the foltowers of Jesus.
The Bishop continued: "It is an -interesting fact that the P.C.R. has come in for vicious attack in Britain, while on the Continent it has been much more liberally supported.
"British contributions in these five years to the total of just under £11.tn have been less than 15,000, chiefly coming ['torn the Methodist Missionary Society, the Congregational Union of Scotland and the Iona Community. The Church of England has given no money to the fund, nor has the Christian Aid Department of the British Council of Churches.
Climbing to Compostella
Medieval tradition was revived when eight pilgrims started out from London on Sat urclas to walk 600 miles to the shrine of St James the Apostle at Compostella. Spain.
Led by Fr John Burgrnan, vicar-general of St Joseph's College, Mill Hill, the group of Dutch and English marchers set off on foot for Southampton to take the ferrity to Bilbao. From there the route. climbs through the mountains of Cantabria, north of the Portuguese border.
Fr Burgman, 45, said he expected the walk to Compostella — one of the most popular pilgrimage shrines in the Middle Ages — to he gruelling. "To me the pilgrimage is a symbol of life and in a way a symbol of religion and Christianity," he said.
"You say farewell to normal surroundings and take the narrow and difficult road. I think if you go to Compostella you have to go there in a difficult way,"
The Dutch-born priest thinks a pilgrimage presents a challenge similar to that of mountaineering. In two previous years he has led pilgrims to Canterbury and to Czestochowa, in Poland, home of the Black Madonna.
In keeping with tradition the group from Britain will wear cockle-shells as they walk. The shells. which are to be found near the shrine. arc a symbol of fertility and a sign by which pilgrims may be recognised.