Sister Rachel Denton dresses in her prayer shawl at St Cuthbert’s Hermitage in Lincolnshire, northeast England. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

Sister Rachel Denton uses her sewing machine. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

A hermit is a person who chooses to live a solitary life in pursuit of religious revelations. Rachel Denton, a former Carmelite nun, has made this choice. She lives alone in a small house in a small village in northeast England, with her cats and chickens keeping her company.

But she hasn’t totally given up on modern life. She brushes aside the usual stereotype of the hermit, saying, “The myth you most often face as a hermit is that you should have a beard and live in a cave. None of which is me.”

While Denton has chosen a solitary life, she has also embraced some modern conveniences like Twitter and Facebook. In addition to the rituals of a hermitic life (rising early, feeding the chickens), she also logs on and checks those social media sites, even using the Internet to shop online and talk with friends. After all, Denton says, “I am a hermit but I am also human.”


Denton sits with her chicken in the garden. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

A chicken walks through the kitchen. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

Denton coaxes a chicken into St Cuthbert’s Hermitage. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

A crucifix and rosary beads. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

Sister Rachel Denton checks her Facebook page. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

Denton sits with her cat. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

A teddy bear and cross lie on the bed. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

Denton picks apples in the evening. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

Sister Rachel Denton locks her hen up for the night. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

Sister Rachel Denton holds a candle during the Compline, or night prayers. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

Sister Rachel Denton takes off her cross as she prepares herself for bed. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

Sister Rachel Denton reads in her bed. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

Sister Rachel Denton looks at the evening sky from the doorway of her house. (Neil Hall/Reuters)