RepositoryChurch of England Record Centre
Order NoSSF
Extent70 boxes
TitleSociety of St Francis
AccessConditionsTo view this material, please book a table at the Church of England Record Centre, providing the OrderNo of the documents you wish to see. Further details concerning booking and opening hours can be obtained at
AdminHistorySSF originated in the work of the Reverend Douglas Downes (Brother Douglas) and his associates in the context of the post-World War I depression. Their ministry on the roads shared the life of the itinerant men and boys ('wayfarers') seeking work. In 1921, a landowner offered a Dorset farm as a base for the work, which became Hilfield Friary. SSF was formed in the 1930s by uniting groups in the Franciscan tradition including the Brotherhood of St Francis of Assisi (BSFA). Another important figure was Father Algy Robertson, who was closely associated with Christa Seva Sangha (CSS), a Franciscan community founded at Poona [Pune], India, c.1920. This generated an English branch, the Brotherhood of Love of Christ (BLC) at St. Ives, Huntingdonshire. CSS in India also evolved a successor body, the Christa Prema Seva Sangha (CPSS).

The Brotherhood of the Holy Cross (BHC) remained apart when the Society of St Francis was formed in 1937, although it retained an association with SSF. However, it did not long survive the death of its founder George Potter (d. 1960); three of its surviving members joined the Society of St Francis in 1963.

See also:
'This Poor Sort: History of the European Province of the Society of St. Francis' by Peta Dunstan (1997) [LPL H5193.2F7].

Peter Frederick Anson, 'The call of the cloister : religious communities and kindred bodies in the Anglican communion' (revised edition, London : S.P.C.K., 1964) [LPL H5193.A6].

Entries in the 'Dictionary of National Biography' for Brother Douglas (Douglas Downes) and Algy ([William] Strowan Amherst Robertson); also George Potter for BHC. [LPL reading room shelves]

Brother Christopher John, SSF: MA Theology thesis on the Anglican Franciscan revival (University of Wales, Trinity St Davids). [LPL copy pending]
CustodialHistoryFormerly held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

On transfer the records had been assigned references e.g. 200 but these references were not retained in cataloguing, and not all the records listed by SSF were transferred to the Library.
AcquisitionGiven to Lambeth Palace Library by SSF in 2006.
MS 4675 ff. 225-291: unpublished biography of Brother Douglas; also MS 4676 ff. 9-13.

MSS 4576-4611: records of the Society of the Divine Compassion, the first Anglican Franciscan community. SSF took over the work of SDC at Plaistow when its superior died in 1952.

SSF published material transferred to Lambeth Palace Library printed books collection.

St Francis School, Hooke (SSF school): material at Dorset History Centre.

The SSF website EDNA ( contains some documents relating to SSF history

Show related Persons records.

Related name records
GB/109/10818Society of St. Francis; 1937-1937-
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