About Us

A place of natural beauty, history, and spirituality

Durward's Glen is located in the beautiful Baraboo Hills National Natural Landmark, 30 miles north of Madison near Devil's Lake State Park. The pristine 40-acre property offers scenic hiking trails, picturesque picnic areas, a pond, a rambling brook, and a white oak tree over 350 years old. The property has always possessed an inspiring spiritual character, which has attracted visitors from all over the world. Durward's Glen is recognized as a place for reflection, peace, and inspiration. Grounds are open to the public daily from dawn until dusk.

The Glen also offers lodging. As both a former home to painters and poets, and a novitiate house for the Order of Saint Camillus, Durward's Glen is the perfect place for a personal or group retreat. Given its location in the Wisconsin Dells area, it is also the ideal base for a restorative vacation.

Durward's Glen Grounds

The scenic grounds at Durward's Glen include the Immaculate Conception Chapel, Mary, Mother of God Grotto, Holy Family Altar, Guardian of the Glen Statue, and St. Anthony of Padua Statue. Photos of each are available by clicking here.

Durward's Glen History

Durward's Glen is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Glen is named after the family of Bernard Isaac Durward who purchased the property in 1862 and moved here with his wife and 5 children from Milwaukee on the Feast of All Saints, November 1st, of that year.

Bernard was born November 26, 1817 in Montrose, Scotland, the youngest of 5 children. Having lost his father while very young, he began work as a shepherd at the early age of 9. Here he developed his love for nature and fostered his artistic inclinations. Later, he became a shoemaker, but only toiled frenziedly at his trade during the last three days of a week to make his master's quota. The rest of his time he spent in secret study of history and poetry and copying artworks borrowed from a nearby art school.

Later in life, Bernard Durward was invited by a family, the Hutchinsons, to paint their portraits. Mrs. Hutchinson invited her sister, Margaret Theresa Hildyard, to also have her portrait done. Bernard and Margaret met, a short courtship followed, and they married in 1842.

After the Hutchinsons moved to America, the Durwards followed. Bernard came first, arriving at New York, then continued on to Milwaukee by lakes and canals. He did some portraits to barter for basic food necessities. When he made enough money, he sent for his wife and two small children in 1845. Eventually, his portrait business boomed and in 1852 he was commissioned to paint the portrait of Milwaukee's first Bishop, Archbishop Henni. This was his first encounter with the Catholic Faith which he and his family soon embraced. They were baptized in early 1853. Bernard's faith life immediately touched his artistic work. His son, Father John, wrote of him, He had ever loved beauty, physical and moral. His greatest delight was the perception of the correspondence of things earthly with those heavenly, of the natural with the supernatural. To him, every forest bush is aflame with God, and every tree seems to exclaim Holy, Holy, Holy.

It was Bernard Durward's faith-filled perception of and love for nature that eventually brought him and his family to the Glen in 1862. Bernard and Margaret raised all of their 8 children here and remained until their deaths. Fulfilling the hopes of Bernard and Margaret, that Durward's Glen would remain a haven of spiritual peace and natural beauty, their children offered the property to the religious Order of St. Camillus who received it in 1932. The Order operated Durward's Glen as a novitiate for over 40 years, during which time a parish was opened at the property. Later, the buildings were used as a retreat center.

In 2006, the parish was closed and the Order of St. Camillus put the property up for sale. The local community, particularly members of the St. Camillus Parish who form Our Lady of the Rosary Society, sought out and helped Magdalen College to receive the property in 2007. In 2011, Our Lady of the Rosary Group Limited, purchased the property from Magdalen College and formed a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation.

Durward's Glen Retreat and Conference Center operates under the ownership of Durward's Glen OLRG Ltd, a local group in the Columbia-Sauk County Area of Wisconsin. With its recent approval as a Section 501(c)(3) organization, Durward's Glen operates as a non-tax corporation meaning that all gifts are tax-deductible and all profits must be reinvested in the Durward's Glen Retreat and Conference Center. To make a donation, please call our office: 608.356.8113.