Douai Crest

The English Benedictine Congregation (EBC)

Many of the great churches of pre-reformation times were associated with Benedictine monks. After the dissolution of the monasteries, some monks continued to serve as parish priests, some left the religious life and a few emigrated. Westminster Abbey was re-founded as a Benedictine Abbey in the time of Queen Mary but closed again during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The last surviving monk of Westminster, Dom Sigebert Buckley, was joined by two younger English monks of the Cassinese congregation, who he aggregated into the EBC on 21 November 1607.

Pope Paul V ratified the status of the EBC in 1612 and this was confirmed in 1633 by Pope Urban VIII

Three houses of English Benedictine monks and two of nuns were founded in France during penal times. The first monks ultimately formed a community, under the patronage of St Laurence, which settled at Dieulouard in 1608. After the French revolution the community returned to England, finally settling in Yorkshire in 1802, where they founded Ampleforth Abbey and College. St Gregory's was founded at Douai in Flanders and also returned to England after the upheavals of the revolution in France. They ultimately settled in Somerset where they gave their Abbey and School the name of Downside. The third house, dedicated to St Edmund, was formed in Paris in 1615. These monks moved to the buildings vacated by the St Gregory's monks at Douai in 1818 and moved to their present home in Berkshire in 1903. The Abbey and School were named Douai after the monks' last home in France.

The English monks differed from many of the European Congregations in that they undertook to assist with the "mission" in England in penal times whereas Europeans such as the Spanish congregation undertook a vow of perpetual enclosure.

Nuns from Cambrai returned to England and after a number of moves settled at Stanbrook near Worcester and nuns from Paris moved to Colwich in Staffordshire.

Currently there are three abbeys of Nuns and ten of Monks in the EBC. The third abbey of nuns, founded in 1868 is Curzon Park Abbey. Two EBC monasteries are in the USA Portsmouth (1918) and St Louis (1955). Ealing Abbey (1897)(St Benedict) and Worth Abbey (1933)(Our Lady Help of Christians)still run schools. The Schools run by Belmont Abbey (1859) (St Michael and All Angels) and Buckfast Abbey ( 1882) (Our Lady)like Douai, have now closed. Sadly Fort Augustus in Scotland closed both as a monastery and School but there is still an active Old Pupils' Society