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Thomas Bagnall Centre/Retreats and Holidays

A listed building dating 1824 attached to St Mary's RC Church. Fully equipped selfcatering 3 bedroomed house, situated in the scenic village of New Abbey Dumfriesshire.

Run by parishioners and is non-profit making, it offers comfortable accommodation for Retreats or holidays for clergy or families wishing to escape the daily stresses of modern living.

Situated close to Sweet Heart Abbey, Cornmill, Southwest Scotland Coast, Southerness International Golf and Links Course, Southerness Lighthouse, Mersehead RSPB, Sandyhills Beach Colvend, Sailing at Kippford, Rockcliffe, Dalbeattie, 7stanes cycling route.


The village of New Abbey is situated 6 miles from Dumfries in the shadow of the Cistercian Abbey built in 1273 as the daughter house of Dundrennan Abbey, some miles to the West. The driving force behind the foundation of the Abbey was Devorguilla, wife of John Balliol of Barnard Castle, the founder of Balliol College, Oxford. It is charmingly named the 'Abbey of the Sweet Heart' or 'Sweetheart Abbey' as it is the final resting place of Devorguilla and the embalmed heart of her husband. Devorguilla died in 1290.

St. Mary's Catholic Church and priest's house, an unusual combined, integral building, was built within the precinct walls of the ancient Abbey in 1824.

The man behind this mission was Thomas Bagnall, priest at Kirkconnell House from 1797 until 1822. During this time the then laird, James Maxwell refused to put money towards the New Abbey project as he felt the mission should be established in Dumfries 'near to the playhouse'. ( St. Andrew's was built adjacent to the local theatre). Thomas moved from Kirkconnell to Kindar House, New Abbey, saying Mass in a chapel set up in the drawing room there. He journeyed round the country to raise money, beginning with supporters in his native Staffordshire.

The architect chosen, Walter Newall, a local New Abbey man, became prominent in his profession, and today Heritage Scotland regards the building that is St. Mary's Church and House as 'a gem'. The house, Tudor in style, is a harled villa with hoodmoulded windows. The chapel forms a broad back (E) wing.

Built in the shape of a cross, the part that is the church is hidden from view from the road by the house. This was no accident. 1824 was before the Catholic Emancipation Act. Catholics still kept a low profile as the practice of their religion was technically illegal.

Contact Details

Address: Administration
St Mary's House
Main Street
New Abbey
Telephone 01387 780653

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This page was last updated: 08 September 2013

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Thomas Bagnall Centre/Retreats and Holidays

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