About the Archives and Library

Here you can find details of this historic collection nestled in the Somerset countryside yet easily accessible from Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

Downside Abbey Library holdings number some 500,000 volumes of which 10% are considered rare (pre-1801).

Our strengths are in Theology, Philosophy, Patristics, Ecclesiastical History and general history studies. The collection is eclectic and whilst our strengths are primarily suited to complement the studies of our monks, successive Monk Librarians have built up collections that mark us out as one of the finest Monastic Libraries in Europe. Our earliest texts date back to the eleventh century and we have a rich collection of Incunabula and late-Medieval/Early Modern manuscript books. The collections are both sacred and profane and reflect the wide interests of the Monastic Community and their European heritage. A full card index is available for scholars in the Library itself which is open and available for consultation.

The Monastic Archive is the central repository of the English Benedictine Congregation. Here you can find the house archives of our abbey here at Downside as well as the papers of Lamspringe Abbey and papers relating to Ampleforth, Belmont and Douai. We have the papers of many Downside monks including those of Cardinal Gasquet, Bishop Polding, Allanson, Dom Bede Camm and Bishop Ullathorne. Other collections also include the archives of the English Benedictine nuns of Brussels. Additionally, we have a large collection of papers relating to the English Martyrs. 

To access our catalogue, click here