The Pilgrims visited the beautiful island of Caldey off the coast of Tenby in Wales where they were keen to see some of Hawes' very early architectural and building work and to experience a setting that was important in his religious development.
The island has a history going back hundreds of years. Fr Gildas, one of the monks currently living on Caldey, welcomed the Pilgrims and showed them around the main buildings on the island. The highlight was a visit to the ancient church of St Illtud's which is possibly the oldest church in England and Wales still operating as a Catholic Church. It had been used for a variety of purposes including a laundry from the Reformation up the the 1900's. Several stages of renovation works, including that done by Hawes in 1906/07 restored it for its original purpose.
The Caldey Island experience for Hawes was short-lived as he and his friend Abbot Aeldred didn't agree on the scale and style of the new Abbey Gate House Monastery which was to house the new order of Benedictines that were re-locating to Caldey. After building a guest house, converting a watchtower into a small chapel, working on the Chapel of St David's and the Priory of St Illtud's, Hawes decided to leave Caldey and to abandon his plan to enter the novitiate.
Caldey Island has been owned by the Catholic order of Cistercian Monks since 1929 and is used as a place of Prayer and Simple Living. Guests are accommodated in St Philomena's Guest House which Hawes built and is now used as a Retreat House. Day visitors are also welcome to enjoy the tranquil surrounds of the island.