About the venue
Douai Abbey is a Roman Catholic monastery of monks of the English Benedictine Congregation, and under the patronage of Saint Edmund, King and Martyr. Founded in Paris in 1615, uprooted by the French Revolution the monks settled at Douai in Flanders, and finally returned to England in 1903, settling at Woolhampton.
After the French Revolution a new start was made but now at Douai in the north of France. A seminary for English boys was founded, most of whom were destined for the priesthood, thus perpetuating the great tradition at Douai begun by Cardinal Allen in 1568.
Amid the political upheavals caused by the Dreyfus affair around the turn of the 19th century, the French prime minister Waldeck-Rousseau introduced an anti-clerical Law of Associations (1901) that “severely curbed the influence of religious orders in France”. This led to the community being given the minor seminary of St. Mary in Woolhampton by Bishop Cahill of Portsmouth, moving from Douai to Woolhampton in 1903. The abbey church was opened in 1933 but only completed in 1993 due to financial constraints.