Church People Deacon Andrei Psarev

Abbess Elisabeth (Ampenoff)

Left to right: Fr. George Cheremetieff (with the Kursk-Root Icon), Abbess Elisabeth (Ampenoff), Archbishop John of Western Europe, Bishop Nikodem of Richmond. The photo is taken in London at the “Russian House” (5 Brechin Place, SW7) after the dedication of the house-chapel by St. John. A part of the house was used by Dr. Tatiana Pavlovna Guerken-Glovatsky, a prominent member of the ROCOR parish. The nuns with Mother Elisabeth arrived in London in June, 1954. They stayed at this place until in 1960 when they acquired their current residence in Brondesbury Park. (Caption: N. Mabin, source:

Abbess Elisabeth (Ampenoff) passed away on this day in 1999.

The following account has been written by Reader John M. Harwood:

Something must be said of the Russian Orthodox Convent of the Annunciation [in Brondesbury Park, London] which I have already mentioned in connection with Father George [Sheremetev]. This was established by Abbess Elizabeth (Ampenoff) in 1954. The Ampenoff family had lived in London between the two Wars but in 1940 Mother Elizabeth had gone to Palestine (then under British control) to become a nun. In 1945, she became Abbess of the famous Ein Karim (Gornee) Convent at the birthplace of Saint John the Baptist. Most of the nuns of this and the other Russian convents in the Holy Land, were Palestinian Arabs. During the hostilities leading to the establishment of the State of Israel the Convent was taken away from the Russian Church Abroad (towards which the Israelis were very hostile) and Mother Elizabeth with five young novices began a life of wandering until Archbishop John Maximovich blessed them to establish a convent in London dedicated to the Annunciation. At that time none of the nuns had visas except the Abbess herself. All turned out well and in 1959, not only was the Cathedral at Emperor’s Gate formally blessed and opened but Mother Elizabeth and the sisters moved into their new and final home, a large detached Edwardian house in Willesden Green with room enough to house them all and to establish a intimate and beautiful chapel. There regular monastic services were served from the beginning and the convent acquired its own priest, Father John Sawicz, formerly of the Polish Orthodox Church Abroad. Although not in good health he had an impressive appearance and voice, and I can well remember his Liturgies in which he wore the beautiful vestments the sisters had made.

Since that time, both Abbess Elizabeth and her faithful assistant, Mother Seraphima, have both died but the Convent still exists, though very sadly its position is now an uncanonical one as the remaining nuns did not feel able to accept the restoration of Communion between the Russian Orthodox church and the Russian Church Abroad which took place in Moscow on Ascension Day 2007.



“Orthodoxy in Britain 50 Years Ago,” Historical Studies of the Russian Church Abroad.

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