English Benedictine Congregation

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English Benedictine Congregation
AbbreviationPost-nominal letters:O.S.B.
Type Benedictines
Headquarters United Kingdom
Region served
UK, USA, Peru, Zimbabwe
246 monastics (as of 2020)
Abbot President
Christopher Jamison, O.S.B.
Parent organization
Benedictine Confederation; Roman Catholic Church
Website www.benedictines.org.uk OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

The English Benedictine Congregation (EBC) unites autonomous Roman Catholic Benedictine communities of monks and nuns and is technically the oldest of the nineteen congregations that are affiliated in the Benedictine Confederation.


History and administration

The EBC claims technical canonical continuity with a congregation of Benedictine abbeys in England erected by the Holy See in 1216, and which ceased to exist at the dissolution of the monasteries in 1535–1540. The actual origins of the present congregation lay with Catholic English expatriates in France, the Low Countries and Italy at the start of the 17th century, and the first monastery was founded at Douai in 1606; this is the ancestor of the present Downside Abbey. [1] English exiles also joined the Italian Cassinese Congregation, and in 1607 two of these were "aggregated" to the extinct English congregation by the last surviving member of it, Dom Sigebert Buckley. He had been a monk of the Westminster Abbey re-founded by Queen Mary I of England, but dissolved again by Queen Elizabeth I in 1550. The EBC claim of continuity depends on this deed of aggregation, rather than survival of monastic life after the Dissolution. [2]

In 2020 the EBC had houses in the United Kingdom, the United States, Peru, and Zimbabwe. The number of houses increased to 16 when three communities of nuns – Kylemore Abbey (Ireland), Mariavall Abbey (Sweden) and Jamberoo Abbey (Australia) – were accepted into the EBC at the General Chapter held in July 2022 at Buckfast Abbey. [3]

Every four years the General Chapter of the EBC elects an Abbot President from among the ruling abbots and former ruling abbots with its jurisdiction. He or she is assisted by a number of officials, and periodically undertakes a Visitation of the individual houses. The purpose of the Visitation is the preservation, strengthening and renewal of the religious life, including the laws of the Church and the Constitutions of the congregation. The President may require by Acts of Visitation, that particular points in the Rule, the Constitutions and the law of the Church be observed. [4]

The current Abbot President is Abbot Christopher Jamison, former Abbot of Worth Abbey. [5] [6]

Sexual abuse scandal

The sexual abuse scandal in the EBC around the turn of the 21st century was a significant episode in a series of Catholic sex abuse cases in the United Kingdom. The events concerned ranged from the 1960s to the 2010s, and led to a number of EBC monks being laicized, convicted and imprisoned for the sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults.


Houses of the Congregation in exile

Religious house in EuropeLocationDatesSuccessor house in England
St. Gregory's Priory, Douai Douai, France1607–1798 Downside Abbey
Dieulouard PrioryFrance1608–1798 Ampleforth Abbey
St. Malo Priory St. Malo, Brittany c.1610 – late 17th centuryn/a
St. Edmund's Priory, Paris; later St. Edmund's Abbey, Douai Paris 1615–1798 (Paris); 1818–1903 (Douai) Douai Abbey, Woolhampton
Cambrai Priory Cambrai, Flanders 1625–1794 Stanbrook Abbey
Our Lady of Good Hope Priory, ParisParis1651–1794 Colwich Abbey
Lamspringe Abbey Lamspringe, Lower Saxony1630–1803Broadway Priory, 1826–34; Fort Augustus Abbey, 1886–1998

Houses of the present Congregation

United Kingdom


United States




Dependent communities



In 2020, membership of the constituent houses was as follows. [7] The table does not include the three houses added to the community in 2022.

HouseBishopsMonksProfessed NunsNovices
Downside Abbey 01500
Ampleforth Abbey 05201
Douai Abbey 02100
Stanbrook Abbey 00200
Belmont Abbey 12702
Curzon Park Abbey 0070
Colwich Abbey 0050
Ealing Abbey 01300
Buckfast Abbey 01201
Saint Anselm's Abbey 01300
Worth Abbey 02100
Portsmouth Abbey 0900
Saint Louis Abbey 02500

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  1. Benedictine Yearbook 2020 p. 97
  2. Benedictine Yearbook 2020 p. 19
  3. "English Benedictine Congregation welcomes three new communities". benedictines.org.uk. July 2022. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  4. "English Benedictine History". plantata.org.uk. Ampleforth Abbey Trustees. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  5. Lamb, Christopher (1 August 2017). "Christopher Jamison appointed Abbot President of English Benedictines". The Tablet. London, UK. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  6. "Abbot Christopher Jamison elected new President". benedictines.org.uk. 1 August 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  7. The Benedictine Yearbook. London: English Benedictine Congregation Trust. 2020. p. 26. ISBN   978-0-901089-58-8.