In 1910, Cadleigh House on the outskirts of Ivybridge was purchased by an order of French nuns, the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary to establish a priory. These nuns had left their native France some years previously, the result of anti-clerical sentiment and initially settled in Cornwall. On arrival the nuns used the large drawing room of the house for services, but this soon proved inadequate. The sisters then embarked upon building a small church on the ground adjoining the house and the first foundation stone was laid on 30 May 1912. The nuns went on to establish a private school which accommodated boarders within the convent.
In 1932 the nuns left Cadleigh as it was safe to return back to France. It then became the home to the Order of Augustinian Recollects and became known as St Austin’s Priory. They were a Catholic religious order and a reformist offshoot from the Augustinian hermit friars. Similar to the nuns before them, they relocated to Devon from Spain as a result of persecution at home. The group consisted of eleven monks with only one speaking English at the time. Their ascetic duties began early each morning and they lived on simple food. Cadleigh farm nearby supplied the monks with dairy produce and vegetables. These unobtrusive monks spent the remainder of their day studying. They were able to stay in close touch with their native Spain by listening in to news broadcasts from Madrid on the wireless, an aerial having been erected on the roof.
The establishment of the Order was of an educational nature with the aim to train missionaries to send abroad in places such as the Philippines, the West Indies, Trinidad and Venezuela. This Order also established churches at Honiton, Seaton and Ottery St. Mary.
Each Sunday the Priory was opened for public worship and Roman Catholics in the district were able to attend although the congregations were relatively small. With declining numbers many of the buildings were demolished in 1981. The remaining buildings, including the church the sisters had built in 1912, were renovated.
The monks remained in Ivybridge until June 2016 and then the monastic house closed. The parish afterwards came under the auspices of the Catholic Diocese of Plymouth.