Room 1: Where do we come from? The Record of the Century

Origin stories are an important part of communal identity formation, and monastic communities are no exception here. To mark the one hundredth anniversary of their settlement at the abbey’s present location in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, the monks and abbot of Downside published ‘The Record of the Century’ in 1914. This self-reflective piece recounts the community’s relocation from its previous home at Douai, Flanders, and it also tells of the tensions that existed between those who longed to return to the Continent and those who felt that England was the right place to put down their roots more permanently. Designed explicitly as ‘an appraisement of the house in its developments and its works’, the aim of the publication was to create a sense of continuity by showing that the community in 1914 was still governed by ‘the self-same Spirit of St Gregory's that has been seen infused into the house from the beginning’.

Selected by María Abellán, MA student, University of Bristol.

Shown here are:
- the opening page of ‘The Record of the Century’ (The Downside Review, 1914);
- a page detail from the account of the monks’ first coming to England;
- a page detail showing a depiction of Goodrich’s building (1823).