Downside Abbey



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This working Benedictine monastery is also the site of an extensive Catholic boarding school. The Neo-Gothic abbey church of 1882 is dedicated to St Gregory the Great, and has the rare status of a minor basilica. The nave is by Giles Gilbert Scott, and was added in 1925. Look out for the Great East Window of 1938, showing Christ in glory in blue and gold, and designed by Scottish architect Ninian Comper (who also designed the Lady Chapel and the Chapel of St Sebastian). The magnificent 166ft high tower, only completed in 1938, is one of the key features which gives the church its medieval appearance.

Downside Abbey
Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Radstock, BATH, BA3 4RJ


About the area

Discover Somerset

Somerset means ‘summer pastures’ – appropriate given that so much of this county remains rural and unspoiled. Ever popular areas to visit are the limestone and red sandstone Mendip Hills rising to over 1,000 feet, and by complete contrast, to the south and southwest, the flat landscape of the Somerset Levels. Descend to the Somerset Levels, an evocative lowland landscape that was the setting for the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685. In the depths of winter this is a desolate place and famously prone to extensive flooding. There is also a palpable sense of the distant past among these fields and scattered communities. It is claimed that Alfred the Great retreated here after his defeat by the Danes.

Away from the flat country are the Quantocks, once the haunt of poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The Quantocks are noted for their gentle slopes, heather-covered moorland expanses and red deer. From the summit, the Bristol Channel is visible where it meets the Severn Estuary. So much of this hilly landscape has a timeless quality about it and large areas have hardly changed since Coleridge and Wordsworth’s day.

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