Room 3: History and the public: Reaching out to the wider community

During recent years, Downside’s monastic community has launched several major initiatives to preserve and communicate its history to the public. Together, the monks have worked towards the renovation of the abbey’s archives, library and special collections, eventually leading to a transformative £1.3M Heritage Lottery Fund project that showcased Downside’s rich cultural and intellectual heritage and made its history publicly accessible for the first time. The abbey’s library with its nearly 500,000 books and vast archival collections was opened to researchers and is now used with increasing frequency. The work did not stop there, however, and the monks’ mission to engage the wider public with Downside’s history and culture remains active. Initiatives that have since built on this work include the Centre for Monastic Heritage formed in partnership with the University of Bristol and, of course, the British Academy-funded project that gave rise to this exhibition and its associated public events.

Selected by the monks of Downside.

Shown here are:
- the plaque that was installed at Downside following the award of the Heritage Lottery Fund award;
- Downside’s monastic library;
- a group of researchers exploring Downside’s collections.