Worth Abbey is a daughter house of St Gregory’s Abbey, at Downside in Somerset.
In September 1933, Abbot John Chapman established a community of 17 monks as the dependent monastery, Worth Priory. The first prior of Worth, Dom Anselm Rutherford, chose Our Lady, Help of Christians, as the patron of the new monastery.
In 1957, under Abbot Christopher Butler of Downside, Worth Priory became an independent monastery. Dom Victor Farwell was appointed Prior and then elected the first Abbot in 1965, when the Priory was raised to the status of an Abbey. The community’s first concern was to build the Abbey Church, which has been the heart of Worth since it was consecrated in 1975.
Worth has been involved in a number of different pastoral endeavours. Worth School was opened shortly after the Abbey became independent of Downside.
In 1964, parish work began in the immediate locality of the Abbey.
In 1968 a long-term missionary connection with Peru began when monks from Worth built a farm and mission in the remote Apurimac valley, while in Lima they founded a monastery, a large parish and a health centre. Since 1990, this connection has been continued through the charity Outreach Peru.
In 1971, the Worth Abbey Lay Community launched the idea of lay participation in monastic life for young people, growing to become, by 2003, an independent lay movement as the Lay Community of St Benedict.
Between 1983 and 1990, St Peter’s, East Dulwich, became the home to an experimental urban monastic community jointly founded by Worth Abbey and the Anglican Diocese of Southwark. The work of formation in Christian faith and spirituality which began there is continued in The Open Cloister.
The life and work of the Worth community has been guided by six abbots:
- Abbot Victor Farwell (1965-88)
- Abbot Dominic Gaisford (1988-94)
- Abbot Stephen Ortiger (1994-2002)
- Abbot Christopher Jamison (2002-10)
- Abbot Kevin Taggart (2010-13)
- Abbot Luke Jolly (elected 2013)