The church of Downside Abbey, otherwise known as the basilica of Saint
Gregory, is the largest of the neo-gothic style churches built after
the reformation. The church was constructed in three stages under the
designs of different architects: the transept in 1882 by Dunn and
Hansom, the choir in 1905 by Garner and the nave in 1925 by Scott.
Central to the life of any Monastic community, the Abbey serves both
the monastery and also the school that bears its name being home to
around 50 monks of the Benedictine order.
At the beginning of the 17th Century, the Benedictine brotherhood in
England fell to but one old monk but nevertheless the Order survived.
250yrs later, two Benedictine monastic houses existed in Europe but
once again came close to extinction during the French revolution. St
Gregory’s then migrated to England, eventually to settle at Downside
in 1814. Emancipation and the re-establishment of the hierarchy, the
growth in converts and the arrival of the Irish Catholics changed the
face of Catholicism entirely giving birth to what is now know as the
Before the Emancipation Act, Catholic buildings rarely had any
external sign of their inner religious function. Downside Abbey
however is a triumphant expression of the new confidence of the church
expressed by its vast dimensions (230ft long and 70ft high
internally). Another significant external feature is the church tower
measuring 166ft and holding a single bell in G bourdon. Francois de
la Rochefoucauld writes in 1784 of the religious state in England
‘’ it is forbidden to summon worshipers by church bells. It is...
... middle of paper ...
...om when the Order was in its
home town of Douai, Flanders, giving a reality to its heritage.
Victoria Young – A.W.N Pugin Mount St Bernard Abbey: The International
Character of England’s Nineteenth- Century Monastic Revival. Essay
published on Web ‘Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide’
Carole Davison Cragoe, – BBC History Trail; Church and State. April
2002 programme on BBC website.
Dom Augustine James - the Story of Downside Abbey – Downside Abbey,
Stratton on the fosse.
 Victoria Young – A.W.N Pugin Mount St Bernard Abbey: The
International Character of England’s Nineteenth-Century Monastic
 2. Carol Davidson Cragoe, April 2002. BBC History Trail; Church
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