Sir Alec Guinness reminisced in his memoirs about a visit he made to Mount St Bernard Abbey in 1957, a year after his conversion to the Catholic faith. Entering Augustus Pugin’s “austere white chapel”, he recalled that as “the sun, a fiery red ball, was rising over the distant farmland; at each of the dozen or so side-altars a monk, finely vested but wearing heavy farmers’ boots to which cow dung…

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