About Retreat House Chester

A city needs breathing spaces

Many of us today feel the need to slow down or step aside now and again, maybe to find a greater depth and connection in life as we live it. ‘Retreat’ is a fundamental human way of spending time with the things that matter to us. Retreat House Chester, drawing gently on Christian tradition, believes that the ancient practice of retreat has much to offer people today, whatever our differences, and that sometimes we need to be able to do this in ways that fit with daily living – locally and non-residentially. Whether it is simply quiet time that is needed or ways of exploring reflective living and spirituality, Retreat House Chester wants to be a place for this. We offer retreat for everyone, not in a traditional retreat house, but as an essential part of everyday living.

Throughout time and across cultures, people have found different ways to retreat, with the common purpose of engaging with what matters and returning to everyday life replenished. Today, Retreat House Chester runs a programme of retreats and retreat-related events in various venues. Open to all, in the city centre and non-residential, we aim to be an accessible resource for stillness and spirituality in the city. We offer reflective time and space in a varied programme because we know that people retreat in different ways: silence & stillness; reflection & conversation; workshops, talks & courses; pop-ups and drop-ins; and personal support - working from our base in Abbey Square next to the Cathedral and in other places across the city and region.

Back in 1925, a Cathedral house in Abbey Square first opened its door as a retreat house right in the heart of Chester.  Next to the Cathedral and on the site of the ancient abbey courtyard, where medieval monks had brewed beer, baked bread and collected water from the well, for more than three-quarters of a century the house was a much-loved place of generous welcome. Today, again from a base in peaceful Abbey Square (number 9, right nextdoor to the old retreat house), and throughout the city, Retreat House Chester is a young organisation offering retreat in the city in a refreshed and contemporary way, right in the midst of everyday life. 

A grassroots project, inspired and driven by local people, and networking with other organisations, we know that retreat is good for people - not only because it has stood the test of time, but because people who come to our retreats tell us that they experience this for themselves.

What we offer

Different ways of retreating suit different people and different needs, and our programme offers a helpful range. Most of our retreats draw gently but deeply on Christian spirituality but we also offer simple reflective time and space in various activities. We offer a four-fold invitation to ‘come as you are’ and find the ways to retreat that are the most helpful to you:

…find time and space

…experience different ways to develop our reflective nature

…explore spirituality in a Christian context

…connect our inner life with our daily living, and connect with one another

Where we are

Offering ‘retreat in the city’, Retreat House Chester is not a traditional retreat house. We want to show how retreat is something we can all do, in the midst of the city and the midst of everyday life. We do this from our base in Abbey Square - with the Cathedral, the Town Square and the old retreat house as our neighbours - and you’ll find us using other locations throughout the city, too, making Chester very much a place for ‘retreat in the city’.

Abbey Square is a special setting - right in the heart of the city but with a sense of being ‘a place apart’. In number 9, we have two ground floor rooms. The Front Room is a lovely light room with its large Georgian windows overlooking the Square; usually it is set with a large table perfect for activities, seating by the window, and our spirituality library. The Back Room is quieter, overlooking the ‘secret’ walled garden, and is beautifully designed as a space for groups and one-to-one. Both rooms have plenty of resources for time spent here.

Please see our WHAT’S ON page for everything you need to know about what we do.

For our Vision & Values, please click here.