The Abbey of St Michael
The Abbey of St Michael is set in superb grounds at Farnborough on the Surrey/Hampshire border. There are two British Rail stations: Farnborough Central which serves the London lines, and Farnborough North which serves Reading and Oxford. It is 36 minutes by fast train from Waterloo Mainline Station to Farnborough Central. The stopping train takes 44 minutes. Visitors can also reach the Abbey from Victoria with a change at Clapham Junction. It is 25 minutes by train from Reading, and 44 minutes by train from Oxford to Farnborough North Station. The Abbey is about six minutes walk from both stations. For those able to come to Farnborough by car there is ample parking space in front of the Abbey near the separate entrance gate which leads to the Library.
The Abbey is a treasure trove of faith, history and architecture. The Empress Eugenie, widow of Napoleon III, crushed by her exile from France, and the loss of her husband and only son, the Prince Imperial, who had been killed while with a British expeditionary force in the Zulu War, commissioned a Mausoleum and a Monastery at Farnborough in their memory. It was to be both a witness to the presence of God and to the history of France. After more than a century St Michael's Abbey remains a place of prayer and pilgrimage.
In 1895 the first Benedictine monks came from the Abbey of Solesmes in France, a monastery noted for its scholarship, particularly liturgical, and for its Gregorian chant. Living under the Christian Gospel the monks follow the rule of life codifed by their founder, St Benedict, in the sixth century in his Rule for Monks.
The Abbey Church and the crypt which houses the Imperial tombs, were designed by the French architect, Gabriel Destailleur in the French Gothic and Romanesque style. His other major work in England is Waddesdon Manor belonging to the Rothschild family. The Church is Grade 1 listed and is one of England's finest Catholic churches. The main space where the Library itself will be housed is Grade II listed, and is the original library of the monastery. The community at Farnborough leads the Benedictine life in its classic contemplative form, of sacred liturgy, study and manual work. A small farm and apiary supply the Abbey and its shop. The Abbey Press produces books and cards, using traditional craft methods. The community's monthly review Laudetur, publishes theological and historical articles, reviews books, and provides news of the life of the monastery. In accordance with the Benedictine tradition the community welcomes guests and visitors. Applications to stay at the monastery should be addressed to the Guest Master.
The Abbot and community of Saint Michael's Abbey, Farnborough, are delighted to welcome the Catholic National Library and its members, to the precincts of our monastery. We are a contemplative community dedicated to prayer, work, study, and hospitality, in accordance with the Rule of Saint Benedict. It is our hope that these aspects of our monastic life will soon play their part in the resurgence of the Catholic Library, and we hope that we will have an opportunity to welcome you here in person.
The Very Reverend Dom Cuthbert Brogan OSB