Ealing Abbey
denomination Roman Catholic
Parish of Ealing Abbey

Ealing Abbey is a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastic foundation in West London, England, and part of the English Benedictine Congregation.


The monastery at Ealing was founded in 1897 from Downside Abbey, originally as a parish in the Archdiocese of Westminster. It was canonically erected as a dependent priory in 1916 and raised again to the rank of independent conventual priory in 1947. Finally, in 1955 it was elevated to the status of an Abbey by Pope Pius XII.



One of the main apostolates of the Abbey is running a major parish in Ealing centred on the Abbey Church of Saint Benedict where both the parish and monastic liturgies take place. The Abbey is home to the Ealing Abbey Choir of boys' and men's voices, which sings at the Sunday Conventual Mass and appeared in the BBC television programme Songs of Praise in 2005.


Another major work of the Abbey is running St Benedict's School, founded as Ealing Priory School in 1902 by Dom Sebastian Cave. This is an independent day school for boys and, since 2007, girls at both the junior and senior levels. There is also a small co-educational nursery. Since 1987 the Abbey has engaged a lay headmaster for the Senior school having previously provided the headmaster from foundation.

Benedictine Study and Arts Centre

The monks of Ealing also run the Benedictine Study and Arts Centre, which was opened in 1992 by Abbot Laurence Soper. The centre has developed and now provides a Liberal Arts programme of adult education and a programme of Sacred Liturgy, with some officially validated courses.

The Centre is based at "Overton House", an elegant red-brick, neo-gothic property built by John M. Bartholomew, son of the founder of John Bartholomew and Son, the map-maker; the name of "J.M. Bartholomew" features in some carved stones in the walls of the garden. The property was purchased by Downside Abbey in 1930 and sold to Ealing Abbey upon its independence in 1955.

The Centre is endorsed and supported by the Archdiocese of Westminster. In 2002 its principal, Dom James Leachman, was appointed professor of Liturgy at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy at Sant Anselmo in Rome, from where he still directs its work[1]. The UK arm of the project "Appreciating the Liturgy" [2](based on the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia), founded and directed by Dom James Leachman and Dom Daniel McCarthy, a monk of St Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, Kansas, is housed in the "Scriptorum" at the Centre, originally established by Dom Bernard Orchard OSB in 2003. Several books were published by Fr Bernard Orchard before his death in 2006, and now two books have been published in the "Appreciating the Liturgy Project" (2009){[3], viz. Appreciating the Collect (St Michael's Abbey Press, Farnborough 2008) and Listen to the Word (The Tablet Publishing, London 2009).

The studies pursued now focus upon Sacred Liturgy and the Liberal Arts, including theology and both modern and classical languages, of which the Latin summer school[4] has become a regular feature of the annual programme.

Monks of Ealing

Dom Bernard Orchard OSB, the biblical scholar, was a distinguished monk of Ealing.[5]

Ealing Abbey has been the home for parts of the careers of various notable monks. Between 1933-1939 Dom David Knowles, the monastic historian and later Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge resided there and conducted the research for his magnum opus The Monastic Order in England [6]. Cuthbert Butler also lived at Ealing following his retirement as Abbot of Downside from 1922 until his death in 1934.[7] Dom John Main OSB, a proponent of Christian meditation, whose methods are now fostered by the World Community for Christian Meditation, was a monk of the Ealing community in the period 1959-1970 and 1974-1977.[8]

In April 2006 civil damages were awarded jointly against Dom David Pearce, a former head of the junior school at St Benedicts, and Ealing Abbey in the High Court in relation to an alleged assault by Dom Pearce on a pupil while teaching at St Benedict's School in the 1990s, although criminal charges were dropped.[9] He was subsequently charged in November 2008 with 24 counts of indecent assault, sexual touching and gross indecency with six boys aged under 16. The counts related to incidents before and after 2003, when the law was changed to create an offence of sexual touching. [10] [11] After admitting his guilt at Isleworth Crown Court to offences going back to 1972 Pearce was jailed for eight years in October 2009.[12][13] The conduct of the Ealing monastic community, as trustee of the St. Benedict's Trust, was examined by the Charity Commission, which found that it had failed to take adequate measures to protect beneficiaries of the charity from Dom Pearce.[14]

Priors and Abbots

The following monks have served as Prior and, since elevation to the status of Abbey on 26 May 1955, Abbot[15]:

Tenure Office Incumbent Notes
1916 to 1925PriorDom Wulstan PearsonConsecrated as the first Bishop of Lancaster, 25 February 1925
1925 to 1935PriorDom Benedict Kuypers
1935 to 1938PriorDom Edward GreenHeadmaster of Ealing Priory School 1917-1919
1938PriorDom Mark Pontifex
1938 to 1945PriorDom Stanislaus Chatterton
1945 to 1946PriorDom Ambrose AgiusMember of Ealing Community at independence from Downside, December 1947
1946 to 1955PriorDom Charles PontifexMember of Ealing Community at independence from Downside, December 1947; appointed as the first Abbot
1955 to 1956AbbotDom Charles PontifexResigned following a car crash; died 1976
1956 to 1967AbbotDom Rupert Hall Headmaster of Ealing Priory School 1939-1945; member of Ealing Community at independence from Downside, December 1947; died 1974
1967 to 1991AbbotDom Francis Rossiter
1991 to 2000AbbotDom Laurence Soper
2000 to presentAbbotDom Martin Shipperlee


General Sources
  • Kollar, Rene (1989), The Return of the Benedictines to London, Ealing Abbey: 1896 to Independence (1 ed.), Burnes and Oates, ISBN 0860121755 

External links

Coordinates: 51°31′10″N 0°18′31″W / 51.519477°N 0.308655°W / 51.519477; -0.308655

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