QUARR Abbey’s community of monks have opened the doors of a new visitor centre.
The unit is designed to provide an inspiring and informative introduction to the monastic way of life and the historic estate where they live.
Displays and an introductory film in the centre show the history of Quarr Abbey, give insight into the Benedictine tradition and highlight the special nature of a site that is a haven for rare wildlife and plants.
The centre was created with cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund and is part of a bigger development project to repair the Abbey church, stabilise the medieval ruins and provide greater volunteering opportunities.
The National Lottery awarded £2 million and the abbey is contributing £200,000 toward a project, which has involved the creation of a new car park and orchard.
There is a new woodland walk with a wildlife hide and outdoor learning packs are provided for families.
New activities include a poultry volunteer group looking after re-homed, ex-battery hens,
Dom Xavier Perrin, prior administrator at Quarr, said: "We hope our new visitor centre will give our guests a better understanding of the monastic tradition and our way of life and inspire them."
The first monastery of Quarr was founded in the 12th century when a group of 12 monks came from the Abbey of Savigny, Normandy, France, and settled in a valley near the old quarries.
The monastery flourished until the reign of Henry VIII, when it was closed during dissolution.
In 1907, the French monks of Solesmes purchased the estate and after six years at Appuldurcombe House, they decided to build a monastery.
Quarr Abbey is open every day throughout the summer, from 10am to 5pm.