The newest religious community in the English Church has received the keys to its first convent.

The Community of Our Lady of Walsingham (COLW), founded in 2004, has bought a converted barn complex in Dereham, Norfolk.

The community, which has five professed Sisters and seven lay associates, runs the Dowry House retreat centre at Walsingham. Its mission involves fostering a culture of vocation and encouraging devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham.

Sister Camilla Oberding, leader of the community, said: “It’s the first time we have had our own place. It’s an amazing step. Up to now we have been moving from room to room, place to place.”

They moved in, she said, with a “real sense of God’s providence being unfolded by the love of so many people”. She said the converted barn was “amazingly monastic in style” with cloisters, a double staircase and an upstairs loft that is now an oratory.

The Sisters bought the site after receiving a large legacy, raising about £150,000 in donations and being given a £350,000 interest-free loan from the Discalced Carmelite Fathers.

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