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“Lovely place” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of The Friars

The Friars
Ranked #1 of 9 things to do in Aylesford
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Ashford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
63 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Lovely place”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 April 2012

Great place, been on a couple of occasions. nice to walk around

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Thank donnat61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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77 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Durham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
69 reviews
65 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Tranquility - in mid-Kent”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 April 2012

It would be easy to think of this as merely a shrine or spiritual centre. In reality it is all that, and much more besides.

Set in mid-Kent alongside the Medway river and close to the Pilgrims' Way footpath, the history of the site goes back nearly a millennium. Many of the buildings existed for those hundreds of years, although some have been constructed in the last six decades for purposes ancillary to the main one.

At centre is a large Roman Catholic chapel, forming part of a set of buildings that incorporates an open-air church too. Adjoining are other related structures, all forming an historic whole, built in stone, some roofed with tiles and some thatched. The setting is fairly open, with grass areas, trees, surfaced walkways and ponds. Ducks abound on the ponds and probably the river too.

Kent is steeped in history and this place is part of it, but what it holds for the casual visitor is an air of serene tranquillity. The spiritual ambience is at root of course, but this is no simple tourist attraction or small 'theme park'. No, the entire location is pervaded by a quietness, almost silence, that instils a sense of well-being. The urge to rush is gone, replaced by a contentment to wander. The 'Rosary Way' is a large garden set aside for quiet contemplation and perhaps reflection on the meanings behind the ceramic images on the walls.

Although somewhere for fine weather, on cold grey days it is not bleak; it makes sense though to wrap up. It's a popular spot, I was told, but on days when few are there it allows one to savour the delights of semi-solitude and, beyond that, the all-pervading tranquillity that calms the soul.

It is not 'full of attractions' but that's at the very heart of its simple attractiveness. Not much to see might be one reaction, but seeing is not the point, feeling is.

The chapel is modest but beautiful, open to visitors of course, and there is a welcoming cafe for drinks and light meals, with a bookshop next door, both within a huge converted barn. Alongside is another barn, once derelict and now a functioning hall, that is more than four hundred years old, and both have exposed woodwork that can be seen and admired. Near the river is a pottery with many 'different' items for sale.

The place offers overnight accommodation, retreats and conference facilities, none of which impinges on the day visitor's perceptions, but are there if one wishes to stay. Those of a mind to use them can find details on their website (www.thefriars.org.uk).
Although well out of London, it is accessible by train and car with relative ease. The nearby village of Aylesford is itself worth a visit.

In a sense, one goes here for what is not present in a material way. The charm of the location is the stillness, the calm it induces. This inner contentment will last long after the visit is over too, such is the effect. Time well spent.

Visited April 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank EllieMaesgrandad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
151 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 173 helpful votes
“Home of the Carmelites.”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 March 2012

I think it would be a rather nice place to come if you are religious or spiritually inclined, I'm neither, so I'm sorry to say I found it all a bit too Holy.

Helpful?
Thank dondenext
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Walderslade Kent
Level Contributor
60 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Such Memories!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 March 2012

My paternal grandmother moved here to Aylesford in the late 50's/early 60's to be near the friars as a staunch Catholic. She actually started the shop with a little table selling crosses and arte-facts and the lovely pottery that the monks make at the rear of the Friary. I visited many times and it's a very moving place, little side altars that hold more personal services. Remember lighting my candle and was there for a huge summer service in the big outdoor ceremony one summer. Its quaint and steeped in history, the grounds are beautiful and you can get a nice lunch or eve Sunday Roast quite reasonably. I do get the feeling as I visited recently for a work Day Course held there that it's more £-orientated than it was, or maybe I am more cynical nowadays. Lots of foreign visitors by the coachload, a big business with day trippers I'd imagine. Strangley enough, have moved near in 2006 and definately get the feeling I am being watched and looked after by my Nanny, it is always an emotional visit but I still love the place!

Helpful?
1 Thank CostaArmandLeg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
UK
Level Contributor
98 reviews
70 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“The Friars Aylesford”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 December 2011

An interesting place and used as a retreat amongst other things if I remember correctly. Google it to see if there are any special events.

Helpful?
Thank SIRNED
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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