Douai Crest

Douai 1819 - 1903

The Coat of Arms
This text, courtesy of Mike Skivington.

The French revolution disrupted religious life in France and English Benedictines had to leave their priories. The monks of St Lawrence's, Dieulouard and St Gregory's, Douai decided to return to England, ultimately establishing new monasteries and schools at Ampleforth and Downside respectively. The remaining monks of St Edmunds, Paris were few in number and most were on the English mission but it was decided that a priory should remain based in France. With the approval of the English Benedictine Congregation, in 1818 a group of monks took over the semi derelict buildings at Douai, vacated by the St Gregory's monks, and re-established St Edmunds. There was more space than in Paris and it was possible to start a school. When in 1903 the St Edmund's monks returned to England the boys from this school joined with the boys of St Mary's College, a diocesan school in Woolhampton. The school and the monastery, now an abbey, took the name of Douai. As well as the foundation of the future Douai School, the years 1818 - 1903 saw the formation of the Douai Society and the inauguration of the Douai Magazine by Dom Bede Ryan OSB.

The school developed a different character to Ampleforth and Downside for a number of reasons. The monks received a bursary from the French government and the school in Flanders , which in some ways acted as a junior seminary, received fees from the English Hierarchy to cover boys whom it was hoped might become priests. For these reasons, unlike the other two Benedictine schools it did not have to compete with the English protestant public schools. Archbishop David Matthew who worked both as an Apostolic Delegate in Africa and was Bishop to the British Forces (in which role he was succeeded by Bishop Gerard Tickle, an Old Dowegian) said that "no Catholic school has been so free of the influence of Arnold of Rugby as Douai has been"