Douai Abbey is a Roman Catholic monastery of monks of the English Benedictine Congregation, under the patronage of Saint Edmund, King and Martyr. Founded in Paris in 1615, and uprooted from there by the Revolution, we settled in Douai in Flanders before finally returning to England in 1903, settling at Woolhampton.
Douai monks serve in parishes throughout England and Wales. At the monastery we welcome guests on retreatsor courses, as well as those who seek space for quiet or study. There are facilities for conferences, and foryouth and chaplaincy groups. Our library and archive houses a rich resource for study and research. Throughout the year the abbey church hosts concerts of religious music.
The primary work of the monks, however, is the regular celebration of the liturgy in the abbey church, which is open to the public. While this website explains our life, history, and vocation in greater depth, you are always welcome to come and see.
Monasteries are never without guests, notes St Benedict in his Rule (RB 53:16). St Benedict did not envisage his monasteries as existing primarily for the purpose of receiving passing guests. In fact, he saw them as sanctuaries for those who wished permanently to put aside the distractions of the world and seek Christ alone. Yet St Benedict recognised the attraction monasteries held for those in the world, and resigned himself with goodwill to making provision for guests, that they be welcomed as Christ (RB 53:1).
The Guesthouse at Douai Abbey offers guests 22 fully ensuite rooms.
Guests normally eat in the Guest Refectory, although some guests may be asked to join the monastic community for meals. Outside meal times, a guest courtyard offers a pleasant area to read or meditate.
Some groups wish to take their meals in silence, while others benefit from being able to talk. Where the two types coincide, they are usually seated at separate tables and are asked to be mindful of each other’s needs.
The kitchen is modern and well-equipped. Our small, dedicated staff produces food of high quality and can cater for a number of special dietary needs as listed on the booking form. Note that we cannot guarantee that all the ingredients supplied to us are prepared in a nut-free environment. Guests with very particular dietary needs are advised to bring their own food. If in doubt, the Guestmaster can advise you, via email or on 0118 971 5399.
Our guestweek is from Tuesday morning until Sunday after lunchtime. Depending on room availability, guests can stay for part or the whole of that time.
With the exception only of the monks’ private garden, our spacious grounds are available for our guests to enjoy, and there are several easy rural walks that can be made from the monastery. Naturally, all our guests are welcome to join the monks in the abbey church for our regular services of divine worship.
Upper Woolhampton, Reading