Douai Crest

News Emails from Douai

11th October 2019

Dear Old Dowegian
On Saturday 9th November, the 2nd annual Basil Gwydir Lecture on military matters will take place at the Douai Pavilion. This annual event is named in honour of Fr Basil Gwydir OSB (1878-84), the first Allied chaplain to fall in WWI.

This year,  Lt Col Charles Antelme DSO (84 -89) will give a talk on his distinguished Army career entitled 'La Vie Militaire'. His talk starts at 10.45 in the Pavilion, and will be followed by a light buffet lunch at the Angel in Woolhampton. The event is free, but you must please book in advance before 31st October, so we have an idea of numbers for both seating and catering. For more details, and to book, please visit:

Douai Foundation
The Foundation is now up and running. The launch party took place last month, attended by Old Boys, their families and friends, and visitors from Downside, Worth and St Benet's Hall. The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster was also represented. The first grant (of £2,000) will be soon be made, to provide new laundry facilities to the pupils of the Inkamana Abbey High School. To find out more, visit the website: The Trustees are delighted that the Duchess of Somerset has agreed to act as the Foundation's first Patron. Look out for fundraising events, including a gala dinner, next year.

Looking ahead...
A reminder that the Old Boys' winter lunch will be at the Star Tavern in Belgravia on Friday 31st January 2020. Details to follow in the New Year.

Anniversary Magazine
A final call to any non-members who would like a copy of the 150th magazine, edited by our Hon Secretary Richard Sims and with contributions from Old Dowegians throughout the years. The cost is just £15, which is coincidentally the same price as annual membership of the Society, so if you join now you'll get membership to the end of 2020 and a free magazine! Please email if you'd like to take advantage.

best wishes


7th August 2019
Dear Old Dowegian
150th Anniversary Magazine
As promised in my last circular, I have now sent out copies of the 150th anniversary magazine to all Subscribing and Life members of the Society. I'm glad to say that some people have taken up the suggestion that they should become members of the Society in order to receive their free copy. It's not too late -  we still have plenty of copies of the magazine available.

Garden Party to launch "The Douai Foundation"
I also gave advance notice of the Garden Party to launch the new Douai Foundation. Can I remind you of the objects of this new trust? 
It will  support Benedictine Education, both in the UK and abroad; one potential partner is the Inkamana High School in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, founded by the German Benedictine Missionary Congregation of St Ottilien. 
If you would like to know more about Inkamana High School, the school's website address is:
In due course the Douai Foundation will have its own website.
The Garden Party will take place at the Royal Overseas League, 6 Park Place, London SW1A 1LR on Thursday 12 September from 5.30 to 7.30 pm. 
Tickets can be bought through this link to Eventbrite:
Fr Anastasius, the Mission Procurator  of the Ottilian Congregation, will be present at the launch, as will Andrew Hobbs, the headmaster of Downside. 

Something completely different
We (ie the monks of Douai) are thinking about testing the waters of the world of social media. I have set up a private Instagram account to begin with and have started following certain relevant people and organisations (other monasteries, retreat houses, cathedrals etc) with a view to getting a feel for this parallel world in which so many people now find themelves living. From what I have seen already I have the impression (this is not a unique personal insight!) that social media in themselves are neither good nor bad, but can be used for serious or trivial purposes. 
My plan is to use this personal account to post items from time to time on different subjects and get some feedback from sympathetic followers before establishing an account for the Abbey itself. We would be using this to spread the gospel, to share our Benedictine values, to promote our way of life here at Douai and to encourage people to attend our retreats and other events. Would any of you (especially those of you who have experience of using these platforms) be willing to take part in this exercise? You could just follow me (oliverholtosb) or you might contact me via e-mail to make helpful suggestions. I am aware that there are many pitfalls to avoid, but I would prefer to make these in my own name, rather than on an official Abbey account.

with best wishes


30th July 2019
Dear Old Dowegian
Firstly I have to tell you the sad news that John O'Brien (1945-50) died on 27 July. He was a surgeon in the Birmingham area. His funeral will take place this Thursday 1st August at 12.00 at the church of the  Sacred Heart and St Teresa of the Child Jesus, 67 Coventry Road, Coleshill, Birmingham B46 3EA. May he rest in peace.

Those of you who were at the AGM & Lunch on 28 June were able to pick up a copy of the special magazine produced to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Douai Society. This is a magnificent production: 156 pages, packed with articles and a great deal of material from the archives, lavishly illustrated, edited with great care and attention to detail by our Hon Secretary, Richard Sims. It also contains contributions from a large number of Old Dowegians. Everyone who has seen the magazine has been very impressed. It also includes a film on DVD called "The Douai Story", made by Jonathan Kight (1993-98)

The Anniversary Magazine will be distributed next week (free of charge) to all Life and Subscribing members.  To non-members it is available on request at a cost of �15. By coincidence (or perhaps cunning marketing?) this is exactly the same amount as the annual subscription. So if you are not yet a member, but would like to have a copy, why not join the Society today? Use this link  Click Here  to find a copy of the Membership application/banker's order.

You will be glad to hear that the repairs to the Abbey Church windows have been completed and we were able to take advantage of the scaffolding to clean the windows, inside and out, and they are now really sparkling. We were very fortunate to have various donations which have virtually covered the cost of the project.

Future Date
At the AGM it was decided that a new Foundation would be launched to support Benedictine Education; one potential partner is the Inkamana High School in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, founded by the German Benedictine Missionary Congregation of St Ottilien. Further details will be available in due course but the Foundation will be formally launched at a Garden Party at the Royal Overseas League, 6 Park Place, London SW1A 1LR on Thursday 12 September at 5.30. I will be sending out a booking form for this in the next week or two.

with best wishes


23rd May 2019

Dear Old Dowegian,

NB Please note that this message was sent to all Old Dowegians for whom we have an e-mail address. Anyone can attend the events listed, but only members will be able to vote on the Resolution or in the elections. If you would like to become a member, please write to me asking for a Banker's Order form.

The Annual Mass for the Douai Society will take place at St Mary's Church (the old school chapel) at 10.30am on Saturday 29th June 2019. This year it will be celebrated by the Society's chaplain Fr Boniface.
This will be immediately followed at 11.45am by the Douai Society AGM, which all members are invited to attend. (Link to the Agenda and 2018 Minutes)
This will be followed at 12.30pm by a Reception in the Pavilion (to mark the launch of the 150th Anniversary Magazine) and the Summer Lunch. Copies of the Magazine will be available to take home (free to members; £15 for non-members).
At 2.00pm, there will be an Old Dowegians Cricket Match against the Melbourne Grammar School, visiting from Australia.
Spouses, children and guests are encouraged to attend the lunch. Please follow the instructions on the  Booking Form and note the closing date of 7th June.

AGM Notice: Members attending the AGM will be asked to vote on the Resolution (to Amend Rule 21)  The Council recently met to discuss the legacy which the Society might leave, once there are no longer any former pupils to make up its membership. After lengthy deliberation, the Council has decided to set up a new entity: the Douai Foundation. The charitable objects of this new trust will include the furtherance of education at home and abroad, with special emphasis on Benedictine teaching and values. It will operate independently from the Society, although a majority of its Trustees will initially be Dowegians (two former pupils plus a representative of the Abbot). This will change in time, as the Foundation outlives the Society. The Council’s proposal is for the existing Bursary Fund to be wound up and the moneys therein (which currently stand at around £100,000) to be transferred to the Foundation, to provide a starting balance on which to build.  Fundraising will start immediately, and donations are encouraged in the form of both lifetime giving and legacies left in Wills. Bursaries can still be paid, but these will come out of the General Fund. This proposal needs to be ratified by the membership at the AGM by way of the Resolution.

with best wishes


Fr Oliver Holt OSB
Douai Abbey              
Upper Woolhampton                    
Berks RG7 5TQ                           

Tel: 0118 9715319                     

17th April 2019

Dear Old Dowegian
As some of you may know, my residence at Downside has been curtailed. I have returned to be bursar at Douai again although I still visit Downside for about one week per month. A great deal is happening there, mainly to do with the separation of the school from the monastery. I am also involved in exploring new ideas for the display and celebration of their wonderful heritage, books, manuscripts, vestments etc.

Bach at Douai progress is being made on the Abbey Church high level windows repair -  we hope that it will be complete by the second week of June.

Richard Sims has asked me to circulate the following:

Cricket v Pangbourne College
There will be an Old Boys' cricket match against Pangbourne College 1st XI at their ground (Bigside, Pangbourne College, Berks, RG8 8LA) on Saturday 27th April 2019 starting at 13.30
All ODs, wives, families, dogs etc welcome as spectators

London Summer Luncheon - Book Now!
This year's summer luncheon will take place at the Naval & Military Club, 4 St James's Square, London, SW1Y 4JU (nearest Tubes: Piccadilly Circus or Green Park) on Friday 7th June 2019: 12.15 for 13.00
Dress code: jacket and tie (preferably OD tie) and the equivalent for ladies
Cost: £35.00 to include three courses, wine and coffee

If you wish to attend, the preference now is for you to pay electronically by crediting £35.00 to:
Douai Society
Sort Code 60-80-08
Account number 15675327
Please use your surname as a reference, so we can tell who has paid, AND please email the Hon. Sec. Richard Sims, on to let him know that you have made the payment, confirming any dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian)
Alternatively, if you must apply by post, please print out this email and write any dietary requirements you have on it (e.g. vegetarian) and post it with your £35.00 cheque payable to Douai Society to: Richard Sims, 8 St Catherine's Park, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3NF

All payments and notifications to be received by Thursday 30th May at the latest

2019 Annual Mass, AGM & Lunch at Douai - Save the Date
Saturday 29th June 2019  (NB not on a Sunday as in previous years)
1030: Old Boys' Mass (NB taking place in St Mary's, the old School Chapel) followed by the AGM
1230: Buffet Lunch for ODs and their families in the Pavilion & long-awaited launch of the Anniversary Magazine (marking 150 years of the Society)
1400: Old Boys' cricket match against Melbourne Grammar School (on tour from Australia)
Formal notice (AGM) and Booking Forms (lunch) will be circulated in due course.

Final request: some years ago I produced the music and words for "Ad multos annos" -  does anyone have a copy, please?

with best wishes

5th January 2019

Dear All
Happy New Year to you and your families. I am still at Downside and spent Christmas here, which was a bit different from Douai, but still recognisably the same joyful feast!  I hope you all had a happy and holy Christmas as well.

We have received the sad news of two deaths in the weeks before Christmas: Tony Flint (1944-46) died on 3 December and Justin Kelly (1951-56) died on 20 November. May they rest in peace and may their families be comforted in their loss.

We are coming up to the date of the London lunch, always held on the last Friday of January. Here are the details:
The annual Old Dowegian winter lunch will take place at The Star Tavern, 6 Belgrave Mews West, London, SW1X 8HT (nearest tube Knightsbridge, Sloane Square or Victoria) on Friday 25th January 2019: 12.30 for 1.00 pm. NB: due to constraints of space, places are limited to 34 on a first come first served basis. You are reminded that this lunch is reserved to Old Dowegians, but the summer lunch (1st Friday in June) and the AGM & Lunch are also open to wives and partners.

If you wish to attend, the preference is for you to pay electronically by crediting £32.50 to Douai Society (Sort Code 60-80-08 / Account number 15675327). Please use your surname as a reference, so we can tell who has paid, AND please email the Hon Sec, Richard Sims, on to let him know that you have made the payment, confirming both the amount paid and any dietary requirements you may have (e.g. vegetarian).

If you must apply by post, please print out this email and write any dietary requirements you have on it (e.g. vegetarian) and post it with your cheque for £32.50 payable to Douai Society to: Richard Sims, 8 St Catherine's Park, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3NF.

Either way, all payments and notifications must arrive by 18th January at the latest. The cost has been maintained at £32.50 and will include a three-course meal with a half-bottle of house wine (white or red), plus coffee and port. As we will be meeting on a Friday, you will be reassured to learn that the main course will be fish! 

With best wishes

Fr Oliver Holt OSB
Downside Abbey
Somerset BA3 4RJ

Tel: 01761 235190