Douai Abbey Retreat
Friday 4th - Sunday 6th July

The Abbey


During the weekend of the 4th- 6th July Young Catholic Adults will be running a Traditional Retreat at Douai Abbey, the retreat will be led by Br. Christopher Greener who will give a series of talks on St. Benedict. The weekend will be full-board (except for the Sunday lunch). Douai Abbey, situated on high ground in the Berkshire countryside overlooking the beautiful Kennet valley towards the distant Hampshire downs, is within easy reach of London, Reading, Oxford and many places of interest. It provides an ideal setting for quiet reflection, retreats and for conferences.

Hospitality has been a special concern of monasteries from the earliest times. St Benedict teaches in the Rule "All guests are to be welcomed as Christ". All rooms are fully en-suite offering accommodation for guests in the Bl Hugh Faringdon , St Alban Roe and the St Benet Biscop buildings.

One of the comments frequently made about Douai is that it offers an environment and atmosphere of peace and serenity, where the cares of daily life can be left behind.

Places are limited so please book early

  • YCA will have it’s own area set aside
  • There will be a social bar available in the evening
  • A Marian Procession will take place on Saturday 5th July in the Abbey grounds
  • The Traditional Mass will be celebrated on Sunday 6th July an FSSP (approx 15 mins away)

The cost of the weekend will be:-

Saturday 5th – Sunday 6th July (full board)*

48 pounds full-board (except Sunday lunch)
25 pounds for students/low waged/unwaged

Or to come for 3 days:- Friday 4th - Saturday 5th – Sunday 6th July

88 pounds; 45 pounds for students/low waged/unwaged)
*All costs are full board - apart from Sunday lunch

Come for the day

Or come for the day on Saturday 5th July
Suggested donation 5 pounds (extra for meals)

How to book - limited places so please reserve your place early

To reserve your place FOR THE WEEKEND (no deposit needed if you are coming for the day on Saturday 5th July), please a 20 pound deposit (NON RETURNABLE) to Damian Barker, Flat 5, 12 St. Catherine Street, Kingsholm, Gloucester, Glos. GL2 9DU (please make any cheques payable to YCA).

Please see below for more photos of Douai and the guest accomodation


(Also for those travelling by train, as trains do not run from Midgham station on a Sunday, there will be lifts to Reading Station).


How to get there

Douai Abbey is situated 1 mile north of the A4 about half way between Reading and Newbury in Berkshire.

The turn off the A4 is about 6 miles from M4 Junction 12.

By rail the nearest station is called MIDGHAM, but it is actually in Woolhampton village.


To Walk

You will need to leave the station and head towards the centre of Woolhampton village, when you reach the main road, turn left and walk c. 50 yards until you reach the "The Falmouth Arms"; turn right here, then walk up WOOLHAMPTON HILL which is then signposted to Douai Abbey. Pass Elstree School (right) and St Peter's Church (right) and on up to a T-junction. Turn left past the Thatched Cottage (on left), and then after 800 yards is the DOUAI ABBEY Entrance. It takes about 15 mins to walk from the station.

From Reading on the A4:

At roundabout after dual carriageway, continue on A4 towards Newbury for half a mile.
Turn right at sign to Douai Abbey (picture) up CODS HILL, pass Sports Ground on left.
Pass Thatched Cottage (on left), after 100 metres pass St Mary's Church (on right).
DOUAI ABBEY Entrance is a further 100 metres on the right.
After turning in, fork right for RECEPTION or left for PARKING.

From Newbury on the A4:

At Woolhampton village, on the left is "The Falmouth Arms", very prominent.
Turn left here, up WOOLHAMPTON HILL which is signposted to Douai Abbey (picture).
Pass Elstree School (right) and St Peter's Church (right) and on up to a T-junction.
Turn left past the Thatched Cottage (on left), and in 200 metres is the DOUAI ABBEY Entrance.
After turning in, fork right for RECEPTION or left for PARKING.

(Also for those travelling by train, as trains do not run from Midgham station on a Sunday, there will be lifts to Reading Station).

Previous retreats

Douai 2006

(Article printed in the the 2006 edition
of Mass of Ages magazine)

Retreat at Douai Abbey Friday 8th – Sunday 10th September 2006

For The second year in a row YCA held an Old Rite retreat at Douai Abbey near Reading in Berkshire, which was lead by Fr. Nicholas du Chaxel (FSSP). This time the group was lucky to have a second Priest namely Fr. Deer (FSSP) from France, happened to be visiting England. Fr. Deer was interested to see English monasticism at work as he had previously been at La Barroux in southern France.

The weekend consisted of a mixture of talks, devotions and social activities. Fr. du Chaxel delivered an inspiring talk on the importance of tradition quoting the catechism of St. Pius X and the past writings of Benedict XVI to illustrate his points. Fr. Abbott gave a fascinating lecture on the desert fathers. Especially interesting was the assertion (by Fr. Abbot) of the complexity of the cave complexes.

On the Sunday, the group decided to goto Mass at the Church of Christ the King in Reading (instead of having Mass in at Douai). The exceptional thing was the prevalence of families with young children. Watching the Mass was a fitting climax to the retreat; to quote the words of Fr. Faber it was as if the Mass, `lifted us out of earth and out of self, and wrapped us round in a cloud of mystical sweetness…. and charmed us with celestial charming, so that our very senses seemed to find vision, hearing, fragrance, taste, and touch beyond what earth can give.’

Douai kindly invited YCA back for next year. On behalf of YCA I would like to thankk Dom Geoffrey Scoott the Abbot of Douai and Br. Christopher Greener for their help in organising this retreat.

Damian (Co-ordinator).

The Abbot of Douai Dom Geoffey Scott has been very kind in allowing YCA the use of Douai and has given us two excellent talks .

Douai 2005

(Article printed in the December 2005 edition
of Mass of Ages magazine)

Rosary in the Parish Church

On 5th November 2005 Young Catholic Adults held a retreat at Douai Abbey, which is situated between Reading and Newbury, in Berkshire, about one hour west of London.

The Abbey has a distinguished history, the community was founded in 1615 in Paris, the third house of the re-established English congregation. The majority of the monks served the Catholic missions in England, often at great risk to their lives. Having suffered greatly during the French revolution the monastery moved in 1818 to the town of Douai in Flanders, now in northern France.

In 1903, three years after having been raised to the status of an abbey, the community had no choice but to leave Douai after the passing of the Association Laws. The Bishop of Portsmouth offered them St Mary's seminary in Woolhampton, which the refugee community accepted. At Woolhampton in Berkshire the Abbey Church, the construction of which began in 1929, was finally completed in 1993.

The group stayed in a delightful retreat centre exuded rustic charm and comprised of three former farm labourers' cottages that been converted into one. It had a kitchen, scullery, dining room, lounge and chapel and provided simple self-catering accommodation.

A tour of the Abbey and its grounds kicked off the proceedings. Unexpectedly, we had climbed the steep spiral staircase of the tower and found a panoramic view at the top, with the monastic gardens and the surrounding wooded countryside spreading before us. The gardens could be seen to the east of the monastery, and were laid out under in their present form under the guidance of Abbot Gregory Freeman OSB, (7th abbot 1969 - 1989) after the monastery had been built. Some of the older trees nearest to the buildings, were part of a grove planted by Abbot Stanislaus Taylor OSB (3rd abbot 1906 - 1913).

Everyone gathered in the Chapel for a rosary at 3pm, after which a period of spiritual reading ensued. At 6pm Fr. Abbot gave a fascinating talk on the ‘Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot’. We learnt about the propaganda of the time, both Catholic and anti-Catholic in the form of engravings - the most powerful medium of its time. It went so well that it continued after Supper. The evening was completed with a social gathering in the village.

YCA Use the Traditional Mass in accordance
with the wishes of Pope John Paul II in Eccelsia Dei (1988)

At 9am on the Sunday morning Fr. Du Chaxel gave us an inspiring talk on the catechetical nature of the Mass and how it can bring us closer to God, the talk had previously been given to the Sisters of Charity! At 10am Traditional Low Mass was celebrated in the parish Church (which is owned by Douai Abbey) by Fr. Du Chaxel, many present were attending their first Old rite Mass and the impressions gained were overwhelmingly favourable. Father gave a sermon regarding interceding for the holy souls in Purgatory - a sometimes forgotten central tenet of our faith. Fr. du Chaxel had to leave after Mass to drive to the Reading Mass Centre; however, afterwards we said a rosary and then had adoration in the main Abbey Church to finish off our weekend.

Feedback from the event was very positive, so much so, that the Abbott and Community want YCA to come back next year.

Young Catholic Adults would like to wholeheartedly thank the Abbot of Douai, Fr. Nicholas du Chaxel and Dom. Christopher Greener for their help and support with the weekend.

For forthcoming events goto: -




See the Latest News section (click here)

Review of the YCA weekend at Douai Abbey 2006 (more)

Brompton Oratory 18-35 Group....(more)






© Young Catholic Adults 2006.