Downside Library


Monks and books have from the outset been close friends. 

The link that Benedictine monks made between the love of learning and the desire for God led to the part they were to play from the Eighth Century in the revival of education in the new Europe of the Middle Ages. The same sense of purpose inspires our engagement with culture today. 

Thanks to the ‘Beacon of Learning’ project, we have recently been able to open our collection and library for public use. The library holds nearly 500,000 books and the Archive collections are equally vast. Materials include an 18th century cookbook, an 11th century book of prophets, many papal bulls, a photographic collection dating back to 1854, and a set of John Speed maps. We would be delighted to welcome you – please contact us if you’d like to arrange a visit.