The SPEC community live in Waxwell House, historically part of Waxwell Farm. The house consists of 3 wings: the Tudor wing, the Victorian wing, and the Modern wing. The Tudor wing was constructed at the end of the 16th Century. An extension was added in the 1800s and is aptly called the Victorian wing. In 1947, Waxwell Farm was purchased as a gift for the Grail Society. The chapel and accommodation – the Modern wing – were added in 1957. Waxwell Farm was purchased by the Diocese of Westminster in 2010 and became SPEC’s new home in March 2014.
The Tudor wing has separated access and is typically where our Retreat Centre Manager lives and works. Like any authentic Tudor building, it has some unlevelled floors, exposed beams, and is quite small. However, all these qualities add incredible character to the space.
The Victorian wing is home to our dining spaces and office areas. Prior to the opening of our residential building, this also was also used as a retreat space. However, in Autumn 2017, this was converted to living space for the SPEC missionaries.
The Modern wing houses the library, the Chapel, and the missionaries’ rooms, lounge, and patio. The chapel is where our community prays and is the most important room in our home. There are several pews and even more floor space. The altar in the chapel has a relic of St. Thomas Becket in it, and it is at this altar that we celebrate Mass together as community every Tuesday.
The chapel is at the heart of our community, strategically located between the community accommodation and the ‘public’ areas. We feel very blessed to have inherited such a beautiful chapel and to have the Blessed Sacrament reserved there. The chapel was built for the Grail Community and officially opened in May 1957 and dedicated on 28 April 1958. The architect, FX Velarde, also designed the local parish church of St. Luke, and there are distinct similarities in the design of both. On the sanctuary there is a beautiful tapestry of the Last Supper by Luc Van Hoeek and at the other end a stunning depiction of the Stations of the Cross. The altar contains a relic of St Thomas Becket who was in nearby Harrow about a fortnight before his martyrdom in Canterbury.
The community at SPEC meets in the chapel at 0800 for Lauds (morning prayer), 1700 for Vespers (evening prayer) and Holy Hour and then again at 2130 for Compline (night prayer). On Mondays, when we have no groups visiting us, we have a community Mass celebrated by Fr Mark, our chaplain.