Some 'unique and unrepeatable' items are going under the hammer, as a community of nuns are on the move from rural village life in Hawarden to the city centre of Nottingham. Beth Hughes finds out more...

THE serenity surrounding the Hawarden monastery is inescapable. It is right, however, to move on to another place when instructed by the Lord, according to Mother Damian.

The Poor Clare Colettine Community gets its name from St Clare, founder of the order in the 13th century known as the Colettine, because it was reformed by St Colette more than 100 years after St Clare.

"It's called a monastery because we pray here, we don't go out and do other work." The words of Mother Damian, speaking from the seclusion of the Poor Clare Community, on Upper Aston Hall Lane, which sits surrounded by a beautiful kept garden on the residential Hawarden lane.

Poor Clares are contemplative Franciscan sisters who spend their time praising God and praying for the world. Their houses are independent and there are around 500 communities in over 30 countries.

"The nuns are moving," they told me, trading 90 wonderful years worth of prayer and memories to a Poor Clare Community based in Nottingham City Centre.

Mother Damian spoke with the grace and calm of the Lord she dedicated her life to, saying: "Everybody likes it here but we feel this is of God and that he is asking us to leave here and move and pray in a city.

"It's not that it's more needed, but here we are very secluded in some ways, but it's basically that we will be on the doorstep of a very multi-cultural city, but that's not the single reason we are moving. We have very practical reasons for moving.

"It is quite a big property to keep. We can get people who do come and help in the garden, and a man who mows the lawn, but the first thing that happened was that the community needed a bigger infirmary because we look after our old sisters - we even have a cemetery here - so it is somewhere you stay in until you go to heaven, basically."

The Poor Clare Community issued a statement to all, saying the move is due to character of the area changing as the "first Sisters came here [when] Hawarden was an accessory to the Shotton Steel works."

The statement said that following their announcement to up stick, they have discovered support from "many friends we did not know we had."

This support is expected at an auction on Saturday, June 30, at 10am, held at the Poor Clare house in Hawarden. It promises so be an auction of "unique, unrepeatable, amateur auction of ancient furniture, doubtful works of art, nunny junk, cloistered clutter, flotsam, jetsam, slightly off-white elephants and really useful odds and ends."

The current Poor Clare House, which will move to Marian House of the Holy Spirit Poor Clare Colettines, in Bulwell, Nottingham, has a prayer line, and ask for prayers from all over the world and pray for them for everything. Generally, when people are sick or when they desire a baby or when they are depressed.

The decision to move was not an easy one, according to Mother Damian, who said: "Our boiler developed a hole on its casing, it wasn't dangerous but there was no way to fix it. The gentleman who came said we would need a new boiler, and the heating system was disintegrating, so then I asked him how much it would be.

"We knew we had a lot of other major works that needed to be done in the house. So we took ourselves to pray about the situation and we felt that God wanted us to basically look at our own situation and maybe move which wasn't an easy decision.

"I spoke to our local Bishop and asked him if he had any other property in the diocese - we belong to Wrexham. The Bishop said he did not know of any. So we thought 'what do we do next?' and we have been friends with the sisters in Nottingham who are the same order as us, for quite a number of years.

"I went to visit them - bearing in mind I had never ever thought of going to Nottingham, it never entered my head - and on the way back I asked the Sister next to me if she thought we should move and she said 'I was just thinking that myself.'

"And it was as though two hands met and there was such great peace at the decision and so we then came home. It was quite a shock, it was a shock to us who had been recipient of this message, and we prayed about it and then we voted and we all voted we would go.

"Then we went and asked the sisters at Nottingham if they would be happy to have us, and of course they were delighted so then we wrote to Rome because we're part of the congregation for the religious in Rome, and they gave permission."

The moving process soon started, and the Sisters are making room and are auctioning their belongings as the house at Nottingham is only a fifth of the size of the Hawarden house.

Although there is an "element that we will miss this," and the Sisters have been reminiscing about the old times, the group are excited to join a more vibrant and socially inclusive house.

"Nottingham has a wonderful ministry to the people there, the sisters there are very busy with people coming to the door and wanting prayers and they also have a little shop in which they sell religious items and people come and they're part of it. The children will celebrate with us communion, and it's quite a vibrant parish. "There is a definite ministry there for us to participate in. So it will be a change but I think it's good for us to go there, it's the right thing to do.

The sisters have been looking at old photographs over the years. Sister Damian said: "But we are also looking forward to creating new things with the new sisters - although we know them, we haven't lived with the in that sense and there's that excitement I suppose of creating something new.

"You can look back and you can reminisce about many happy memories we've had - we've had a wonderful life here -but there comes a time when you know that it's right to move on."