Our community was established as a canonry of the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré in 2004, moved to St. Philip’s Priory, Chelmsford, in 2008, and Our Lady of Sorrows, Peckham, in 2022.
Our priory was the first new church commissioned in the Diocese of Southwark by the architect E. W. Pugin. The church was opened in 1866 under the care of Capuchins who had been invited to establish a house by Bishop Grant in 1854, but the attached friary building was not completed until 1884, and the parish hall was opened in 1937.
The buildings and parish were handed over to the Archdiocese in 2000 and then served by both diocesan and Vincentian priests. In 2021 the Archdiocese invited the Canonry to consider taking over the former friary and parish, and after much prayer and consideration we accepted leaving Chelmsford where we had been for 14 years. The Priory of Our Lady of Sorrows formally became our priory in September 2022.
The Order in South London
The Norbertine Order has a long history in South London and Kent. There was a Premonstratensian Community in Brockley from around 1182; however, in around 1205 the community in Brockley (or Brocke) merged with the Premonstratensian canons in Otham, Sussex, and then founded Bayham Abbey in Sussex, which persevered till the Reformation. In fact, St Norbert's Road, Brockley, is a reminder of the historical connection between the Norbertine canons and South London.
The arms of the Priory reflect the history of the community and Order. The blue chevron is taken from the arms of Storrington, the community from which our canonry came into being – itself taken from the arms of the abbey of Tongerlo. The fleur-de-lys come from the arms of the former abbey of Beeleigh – they are also the device used in the arms of the Order, as is the blue colouring. The Latin motto reads “Si Deus [pro nobis] quis contra [nos],” and may be translated: “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rm. 8:31).
May Our Blessed Mother, Queen of our Order, pray for us that Our Lord may raise up many more men to labour in this part of His world as sons of St. Norbert and that we may be ever of service to the people of this place.