Rose Castle in Cumbria will now re-open its doors as an international centre of peace and reconciliation.
The sale of Rose Castle, which has been vacant since 2009, includes gardens, a farmhouse, cottages and 65 acres of land.
It has been purchased on behalf of the Rose Castle Foundation, a charitable organisation chaired by the Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Rev’d James Newcome, and Professor David Ford, Emeritus Regius Professor of Theology at the University of Cambridge.
Its founding director, Sarah Snyder, lives in Cumbria and has recently been appointed as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Adviser for Reconciliation. She has worked extensively to promote faith-based reconciliation, most recently as Director of partnerships with Religions for Peace International, affiliated to the United Nations.
The Rose Castle Foundation addresses misunderstanding and builds bridges between individuals and communities experiencing conflict, so that they can better understand their differences and, ultimately, work together for the common good. It welcomes people of all faiths and none, and aims to train and equip a generation of leaders skilled in transforming conflict. Its programmes address reconciliation:
• Within and between faith communities,
• Across the religious/secular divide, and
• With the land and natural environment, by developing active conservation programmes in the grounds.
Bishop James Newcome said: “We are thrilled that our plans for Rose Castle are reignited following very generous donations to enable the castle to be purchased. Our heartfelt thanks go to those who have invested in this historic building and in our vision.
“There has been a lot of hard work and detailed discussion in recent years to enable us to get to this point. We recognise there has been a real groundswell of support in Cumbria for what we want to achieve and for this we are very grateful.
“We also know that the coming months will be equally busy as we look to develop our plans for the building while also growing new ways in which we can offer opportunities for communities to come together to explore channels of reconciliation and peace.
“In recent months we have seen all too many signs of a world which appears fractured, broken and violent. Our prayer is that the work of the Rose Castle Foundation can help heal divides and bring unity, understanding and dialogue where there is currently discord, disagreement and danger.”
Sarah Snyder expressed her profound gratitude to the benefactors who have enabled the work of reconciliation to be centred at Rose Castle and also to the Church Commissioners who have worked so closely with the Foundation throughout.
She said: “The world desperately needs experienced reconcilers, trained to transform conflict and build lasting peace. Such work must start at the community level – bottom up, not top down – if it is to be sustainable.
“All too often it appears that religion and religious differences are a cause of conflict, but in fact the vast majority of people of faith long for peace. Governments and the United Nations increasingly recognize the vital role of religious leaders and their communities in transforming conflict.
“Rose Castle will be a safe and tranquil space for people to meet with trained facilitators, committed to building peace. They will be supported by a daily rhythm of prayer and service.”
Joseph Cannon, Chief Surveyor to the Church Commissioners, said: “Rose Castle served the Church of England for centuries. No longer a suitable base for the Bishop’s ministry, it is a suitable home for faith-based reconciliation and we wish the Foundation every success in its work.”
Work is now ongoing to identify further funding and endowment sources as the Rose Castle Foundation looks to refurbish the Grade One listed building to provide a welcoming venue at which to base its residential programmes for up to 30 participants at a time.
Janet Queen, Head Gardener, will continue her long-term care for the gardens, and the Foundation will work closely with her to explore horticultural and conservation programmes for the grounds.