Director of Whalley Abbey

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Whalley Abbey, The Sands, Whalley, Clitheroe

The Diocesan ‘Vision 2026: Healthy Churches Transforming Communities’ highlights four priorities – Making Disciples of Jesus Christ, Being Witnesses to Jesus Christ, Growing Leaders for Jesus Christ and Inspiring Children and Young People. Work in each of these areas is led by one of the bishops or archdeacons. Whalley Abbey in its new role as a Centre for Prayer and Discipleship falls within the ‘Making Disciples’ team, which is led by the Archdeacon of Blackburn.

Whalley Abbey has been a Retreat and Conference Centre for the diocese since the diocese was founded in 1926. The house is set in the ruins of a 14th Century Cistercian Abbey on the banks of the River Calder in the beautiful countryside of the Ribble Valley, but with easy access to road and rail networks.

Main Responsibilities

  1. To be responsible for delivering the strategic direction of the Abbey as a Centre for Christian Discipleship and Prayer, in line with the agreed strategic plan, offering a strong programme of retreats, quiet days and training for whole-life discipleship.
  2. To line-manage the Assistant Director, who manages day to day operations and is in charge during the absence of the Director.
  3. To oversee a rhythm of daily prayer and regular eucharistic worship within the Abbey, both for the community and guests, and arrange the provision of spiritual direction or sacramental confession where requested.
  4. To work with the staff, community and volunteers to ensure that the accommodation, grounds, buildings and catering are all maintained to a consistently high standard, so that all guests are well cared for and have a positive experience of their visit.
  5. To lead the small resident community, including those serving on the one-year Volunteer Scheme, dedicated to supporting the work of the Abbey through the Benedictine disciplines of prayer, study, hospitality and service.
  6. To ensure a robust safeguarding policy is in place to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults, and ensure that all staff understand and are fully trained in implementing safeguarding policy and procedures.
  7. To be responsible for keeping to budget, increasing income and monitoring costs so that the Abbey is financially sustainable, within the annual grant agreed with the Diocesan Board of Finance.
  8. To work with the Diocesan Secretary and Governance Committee to explore the formation of an independent charitable trust wholly owned by the Board of Finance.
  9. To be an Ambassador for the Abbey to the diocese and beyond, promoting and developing its links with deaneries and parishes, and potential partners and users.
  10. With the Bishop and the cathedral, to support the development of a dispersed community of prayer, living by a Rule of Life and praying for the diocese and the world.
  11. To work with the head gardener and the Friends of Whalley Abbey to develop the spiritual potential of the grounds for prayer and contemplation, enabling visitors and pilgrims to experience something of the Christian story.
  12. To hold a vision for the long-term development of the whole historic site as a place of pilgrimage, fostering good relations with our tenants (such as the Autistic Society), the Anglican Parish Church and the neighbouring RC Church of English Martyrs and RC Diocese of Salford.
  13. To ensure all relevant legislation is complied with and best practice ism followed in regard to Safeguarding, Health and Safety, and food hygiene, and to assess all foreseeable risks and mitigate risk and effect.

Operational Activities

  1. To determine the programme of retreats, courses and events and promote the ministry of Whalley Abbey and raise its profile through all practical means.
  2. To welcome guests to the Abbey, respond to their needs and address problems and complaints efficiently
  3. To work with the Governance Committee of the Abbey in accordance with the governance arrangements set in place by Bishop’s Council.
  4. To prepare financial monitoring reports and attend Senior Staff meetings when requested.
  5. To preside at the eucharist and share in leading the daily rhythm of prayer with the resident community, and to support and guide their spiritual development and ministries of team members.
  6. To ensure good internal communication and hold regular meetings with staff and volunteers.
  7. To work with the Friends of Whalley Abbey to develop their understanding of and involvement with the new vision for the Abbey.
  8. To support the Assistant Director in ensuring the smooth running of day to day operations of the Abbey, to be on call for emergencies and to be on site when on duty, willing to cover for staff shortages due to sickness, holidays etc.
  9. To develop the use of the grounds and ruins and make further links with schools.
  10. To support the Assistant Director in their responsibility for security, and ensure the buildings, fixtures, equipment and fitting are kept in good working order, suggesting improvements where needed.
  11. To ensure appropriate insurance is in place, in liaison with the Head of Finance.
  12. To carry out any other duties that might reasonably be required.

Management of staff

  1. The Director is responsible for the care of all staff and arrangement of rosters within individual constraints. Delivery of the staffing strategy is delegated to the Assistant Director. The Director will be willing to help the Assistant Director cover other roles when needed in emergency.

  1. The Director is responsible for ensuring adequate staffing levels are in place and that all recruitment is carried out according to legal and DBF policy.

  1. The Director is responsible for making sure all staff are fully trained in all legal aspects, processes and practices eg Food Safety, dangerous machinery, customer care.

  2. The Director will oversee management of staff in accordance with the policies and procedures of the Diocese of Blackburn including appraisals, whilst maintaining good working relations amongst the Abbey staff.

Personal Qualities

  • Passionate about personal Christian discipleship
  • A committed and disciplined life of prayer.
  • Prayerful and hospitable presence.
  • The sensitivity to relate well to and work with people of faith
  • Spiritually discerning

Knowledge and Experience

  • Awareness of a range of Christian spiritualities from personal practical involvement.
  • An ability to minister and lead worship for people from a variety of backgrounds.
  • Leading, managing and motivating a team including budget planning and the deployment of resources.


  • Degree level or equivalent in theological or Biblical studies.

Skills and Abilities

  • Ability and commitment to working flexibly and collaboratively with colleagues as part of a team.
  • Positive conflict management
  • Gifted in offering a generous welcome and hospitality
  • Flexibility
  • Excellent and creative communication skills, particularly in respect to the Bible.
  • Ability to form effective working relationships.
  • Well-organised and administratively able with good and effective working knowledge of IT


  • The post-holder will be an Anglican Priest, eligible to hold a Bishop’s Licence.
  • Commitment to work flexibly within the requirements of the role, as required and able to respond to unexpected situations.
  • This post will require an enhanced DBS and up to date safeguarding qualifications/or evidence of course attendance.

For more information on the job description and person specification, please see the attached documents.

The Diocese of Blackburn represents the Church of England in most of Lancashire and part of Wigan Metropolitan Borough, covering an area of 878 square miles with a population of 1.3 million. The Diocese is made up of two archdeaconries, Blackburn and Lancaster, with a total of fourteen deaneries. There are 275 licensed churches, comprising around 237 parishes, with around 254 licensed clergy (of whom 146 FTE are stipendiary incumbents, plus approx. 25 stipendiary curates) and 158 licensed Readers.

This role requires an enhanced DBS check.

Accountability: The Director is licensed by the Bishop of Blackburn and is responsible to the Diocesan Secretary, as line manager.

The Whalley Abbey Governance Committee, chaired by the Archdeacon of Blackburn, provides support, oversight and strategic direction, within terms of reference agreed by the DBF. This may be replaced in the future by a charitable trust owned by the DBF.

Responsible for: Paid staff, volunteers and the resident community

Salary: £35,391 per annum

Pension: Membership of the DBF, Royal London Pension Scheme 10% employer contribution and 2% employee contribution. Salary sacrifice is available if membership of the Clergy Pension Scheme is preferred.

Hours of Work: 40 hours per week, with one complete 2.5 day off every month, and holiday entitlement.

Status: The post-holder will be an Anglican Priest, eligible to hold a Bishop’s License. The Abbey is committed to generous hospitality and to mutual flourishing within the Five Guiding Principles. This means that priests of both integrities are encouraged to apply and both male and female priests will be welcome to preside at any altar within the Abbey.

Review: The post-holder will be required to participate in the Diocese of Blackburn’s ministerial development review scheme and an annual appraisal carried out by the line manager, currently the Archdeacon of Blackburn.

Accommodation: The successful applicant will be provided with attractive accommodation within the grounds of Whalley Abbey.

Holiday Entitlement: Entitlement to 25 days (not including statutory bank holidays) in the first year rising by 1 day per completed calendar year up to a maximum of 30 days per year. The holiday year runs from 1 January to 31 December.

Probation: This post will be subject to a six-month probationary period.

For an informal conversation about the position, please ring Mark Ireland, Archdeacon of Blackburn, on 07866 778791 or email