The library and archive at Douai Abbey is attached to the English Benedictine Community of St Edmund (Paris, 1615), (Douai, France, 1818), Woolhampton, Reading (from 1903). Woolhampton is close to London, Heathrow and Oxford, and the Community sees the archive as part of its commitment to Benedictine hospitality. The new library and archive was opened in 2010 and conforms to various international standards governing archives.
One reason for building the library was to ensure that the archives, libraries and collections of the ancient monastic religious orders which were at risk might be deposited at Douai. There are now fifteen orders who have thus deposited their archives at Douai. The largest collection is that of the English Dominican Province which totals some 600 boxes together with two thousand rare books. The Douai Benedictine archive is itself of some importance since it houses core seventeenth-century English Benedictine documents. Being an archive in a Catholic institution, the remit of the archive is broad, taking in vestments, ecclesiastical plate, relics, and paintings.
There is public access and visits should be arranged with the archivist. Daily open times are 9.30 to 17.00, but hours can be extended for guests staying in the abbey overnight. Reprographic, guides, and wi-fi are available. There is overnight accommodation available in the abbey’s guest department. It is useful for researchers to find an important theological and historical library alongside the archive.
Enquiries to: Abbot Geoffrey Scott
Address: Douai Abbey, Upper Woolhampton, Reading RG7 5TQ
‘The Collector: a look at the Benedictine Archives through the eyes of Bro. Benet Welden, 1674-1713’ by G Scott OSB in Catholic Archives No 6 pp 25-42
‘Reflections on the Archives of the English Dominicans’ by B Bailey OP in Catholic Archives No 1 pp 6-9