Religion & Spiritual Life
Religion & Spiritual Life
Spiritual and Moral Development in the Millfield Community
Millfield believes that true education must be concerned with spiritual and moral development. All students of the school, irrespective of their religion, are encouraged to explore and develop their own faith, and learn from that of others, in an atmosphere of generosity and tolerance. This finds its fullest expression in our delightful Start of Year Service, held in the magnificent setting of Wells Cathedral.
Worship – provision for Christians and those of other faiths
The Spiritual Director is responsible for the ongoing spiritual life of the community. Although this doesn’t simply mean running services, the rhythm of regular worship is tremendously important to those who are committed. What really counts are efforts at nurturing these services as a space for spiritual, social and moral development. Short addresses have a key role in this respect – the issues tackled are almost always aimed at a broad audience and have general appeal, so that those of any religion or those of none are equally at home.
The school chapel is dedicated for use as a place of worship for all faiths. So, in addition to Christian services, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists have the opportunity to meet and contacts with local leaders of these other faiths are nurtured with a view to mutual visits. Roman Catholic students attend Mass in Glastonbury and can be confirmed every other year. An Anglican Confirmation course runs every twelve months.
Reflecting the open ethos of the school chapel, the Spiritual Director is available for all members of the school, irrespective of faith. At various points in the day, students and staff may drop into the office under the chapel or into the spiritual support house across from the school gates. Some come by arrangement, others on the off-chance, most because they need someone to listen to them and advise.
Chapel – a brief history
The chapel chalet is, in fact, the oldest building on the Millfield site. It was built in 1882, a couple of years before Millfield House. The Clark family, of Clarks’ Shoes’ fame, owned the land. This plot was the highest point on the family estate, and had apparently been the site of a windmill in former years - hence the name ‘Millfield’. In the latter years of the 19th Century, a daughter (Alice) of the Clark family seems to have contracted tuberculosis. A common practice at the time for wealthy people was to send family members infected to Switzerland to live in a mountain chalet, where the robust winds were reputed to have healing properties. It seems that the family decided to build a Swiss-style chalet on the highest point on their own land where their daughter could be cared for, lying on the open air upstairs balcony area facing the prevailing westerly winds. The indoor area downstairs and above was allotted to those caring for her, where they could live and cook her meals. The treatment appears to have been effective and the girl recovered. The chalet was a place of care and cure — a marvellous precursor of its later life as a spiritual support centre!