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Our FMDM history and legacy owes its beginnings, in the late 1880’s, to the coming together of a small group of women in the northeast of England who committed their lives to following Christ by living the Gospel after the example of Francis of Assisi.
From our earliest days we have sought to make the Gospel our Rule of life, to seek Christ in our daily lives and to serve the poor.

This vision of Religious Life has taken us on Mission to many peoples and places, enabling us to deepen our Charism of Divine Motherhood.  Through this gift of our Charism, we seek to bring Christ to birth firstly, in our own hearts through prayer and reflection, and then in our world by our presence and our ministry.



Because of the dynamism of several significant women of prayer and vision, our initial Mission focus and our work with mothers and babies gradually expanded to respond to the needs of God’s people beyond the shores of England.  After World War 2 our FMDM horizons opened us to bring Christ’s love and care to our newly opened missions on all five continents.

Ladywell, an Edwardian house and working farm was purchased by the FMDMs in 1956 and became our Motherhouse. From here many sisters set out with their hearts ‘burning within them’ as they left for Missions in far away and exotic sounding destinations.

Ladywell in the 1950-60’s was home to our large International Novitiate and duly proud of its modern and well-run farm, bakery, printing press and huge laundry serving Mount Alvernia Hospital and other local FMDM communities.

In 1979 Ladywell ceased to be the International Novitiate as sisters joining FMDM received their initial formation in their own country. At the same time FMDM opened up Ladywell as a Retreat and Spirituality Centre which provided a place of peace, rest and prayer for many individuals and groups for over 40 years.  The Retreat Centre closed in September 2019 in view of the re-developments which have resulted in the opening of this new Franciscan Centre.

Since the mid 1970’s Ladywell began to be a place where our elderly and frail sisters could come and be cared for in their later years.  Over the last 50 years this part of the house (called La Verna) has grown and developed into a fully staffed care home for our elderly sisters.

Life, as we know, is constantly changing and this new Century offers different challenges, however, we see that our FMDM legacy remains the same.   We continue to desire to follow Christ in a way which is relevant to our 21st Century, to bring healing to our world and to those who come to us.

We have, over the last few years in close collaboration with our FMDM Mission Partners sought to re-vision the future of Ladywell. Our hope is to offer a space of peace and tranquillity, where renewal of body, soul and spirit can become a reality for those in need.  We will endeavour to do so with our hearts open to the struggles of our world, to the beauty of our planet and to caring for all that is sacred in life.