Society of the Sisters of Bethany

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For other orders of a similar name, see Sisters of Bethany.

The Society of the Sisters of Bethany (SSB) is an Anglican religious order. The sisters follow the Rule of St Augustine. The mother house is the House of Bethany in Southsea.


The community was founded in Clerkenwell, London by Etheldreda Anna Benett (born 1824) in 1866.[1] Mother Etheldreda had been associated for some years with the Society of All Saints Sisters of the Poor, and finally joined that Order as a novice in 1864. In 1866 she took simple vows as a professed sister, and immediately left to found the new Order, the Society of the Sisters of Bethany.[2] In the early days there was encouragement from founder members of the Oxford Movement including Edward Bouverie Pusey and Richard Meux Benson.[3]


  • The original mother house and main convent was at Clerkenwell in London from 1866 until its closure in 1962.
  • The House of Bethany in Bournemouth opened in 1872 as a convent and orphanage; in 1962 it became the mother house of the Order; it closed in 1986.
  • The House of Bethany in Hindhead opened in 1977 as a convent of the Order; it closed in 1998.
  • A small convent in Winchester was opened in 1980; it closed in 1993.
  • The House of Bethany in Southsea opened in 1987 and immediately became the Mother House; since 1998 it has been the only convent of the Order.

The Order has operated overseas convents in Kurdistan (1890-1898), and South Africa (1915-1950). At various times it has also had small groups of sisters stationed in diocesan retreat houses to help run those houses, in various dioceses of the Church of England.


The order specialised in the creation of vestments and ecclesiastical embroidery opening a School of Embroidery at Lloyd Square, Clerkenwell.[4] The income from the School of Embroidery helped to fund the other work carried out by the Community. Sir Ninian Comper had a long association with the School which continued until 1972.

Sister community[edit]

Although the Orders are separate and independent of each other, the Society of the Sisters of Bethany have a special link with the Order of the Companions of Martha and Mary (OCMM), a relatively new religious community of sisters based in Blackburn.[5]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ The religious communities of the Church of England (1918); Allan T. Cameron
  2. ^ Details recorded in the Bournemouth Daily Echo newspaper.
  3. ^ See reference on SSB timeline.
  4. ^ Survey of London: volume 47: Northern Clerkenwell and Pentonville (2008), pp. 264-297. URL: Date accessed: 22 July 2013.
  5. ^ Details of the link.