Architectural history

Plans for a great new Abbey Church began in 1840, during the priorship of Dom Bernard Murphy. Yet it was the vision and ambition of Priors Dom Aidan Gasquet and Dom Edmund Ford that created the abbey church we see today. The foundation stone was laid in 1873 and the first section of the church, including the abbey tower, was finished by 1882. Such was the involvement of Gasquet and Ford that their likenesses are carved in stone above the entrance to the abbey tower. 

The rest of the church as we know it was added in phases; the choir in 1905, the sacristy in 1915, the nave in 1925 and the Gasquet crown of the tower in 1938.  The church, which is still lacking a complete west front, was consecrated in 1935 and was raised to the rank of minor basilica in the same year.

It is one of England’s great neo-Gothic churches with the work of several distinguished architects including Thomas Garner, Sir Ninian Comper and Sir Giles Gilbert Scott contributing to its beauty and originality.

You can purchase a copy of Downside Abbey’s Architectural History by clicking here.

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