Ampleforth Visitors

22 July 2018

Welcome to the Abbey Church

The Abbey Church is always open to visitors and guided tours are available every Thursday afternoon at 2:30pm.  

We also run 'Church Mouse Tours' which include a tour of the Abbey Church followed by a visit to the school library where we have a magnificent collection of Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson furniture.  Please click here for our tour dates.

If you would like to arrange for a group tour of the Abbey Church please contact us on 01439 766897 or email 

Services in the Abbey Church

Visitors are welcome to join the monks for Office in the Abbey Church - click here for the daily service times.

The best entrance is from the North Transept, via the Narthex. If you wish to join the singing, we would ask you do so softly and follow the pace set by the monks. With the exception of Matins, all the Offices are usually sung, the cantors alternating with the choir.

Visitors are asked to arrive no earlier than 5 minutes before the start of an Office (when the bell goes and the lights go up) and to take their place in Choir quietly – the stalls nearest the High Altar are for guests. At the end of an Office, please allow the monks to leave first.

Visitors are asked to follow the Community’s movements of kneeling, standing and sitting, but without the obligation of participating in the more complex rubrics of turning and bowing. Each guest will find the Office books in the stalls.

There are separate books for Sunday Lauds, Midday Office (Prayer during the Day) and Compline and Vespers (Vesperale Monasticum).

A Day in the Life of a Monk

St Benedict wrote that a monk should prefer nothing to the work of God - the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours. The monastic day is therefore built around set times of prayer and begins at 5.45am when the rising bell is sounded and the monks then gather in the Abbey church for the first prayers of the day, Matins, at 6.00am. This is followed by a period of quiet prayer before Lauds (Morning Prayer) at 7.30 am and then breakfast. The third set of prayers, Conventual Mass, are said at 12.45pm.

The morning and early afternoon is dedicated to work, with Little Hour celebrated in the Abbey church at 2.15pm.  Afternoons are devoted to Manual Labour. A period of work and spiritual reading follows in the early evening before the celebration of Vespers at 6.00pm. This is followed by half-an-hour of lectio divina, with supper at 7.00pm. Compline, or Night Prayer, is at 8.15pm. After Night Prayer the Summum Silentium, the Great Silence, begins and is observed throughout the monastery until Morning Prayer.

Matins 6.00am

This is sometimes called ‘Vigils’ and some communities get up in the middle of the night to pray it, while all around them sleep. As well as psalms it includes a couple of substantial readings, one from Scripture, another from the early Church Fathers. It lasts about 40 minutes. This gives us fuel for the private prayer that follows.

Lauds 7.30am

This is Morning Prayer, and the tone is celebratory, full of praise and thanksgiving. It lasts about 25 minutes and is followed by breakfast.

Mass 12.45pm

This is not part of the series of prayer services, because it is in a category of its own. It is the sacrament of the day, in which we offer ourselves to the Father with Jesus, and commune with Jesus himself.

Little Hour 2.15pm

For us this replaces the old Prime, Terce, Sext and None, the short offices that punctuate the day. It lasts approximately ten minutes. Lunch follows.

Vespers 6.00pm

This is the second principal office of the day, Evening Prayer. At Ampleforth we sing it in Latin, in Gregorian Chant. It lasts 25 minutes and is followed by half an hour of Lectio Divina, and then supper.

Compline 8.15pm

This is Night Prayer. It begins with a reading from the Rule. All the psalms, readings and prayers are about protection, safety and the love of God. It lasts 15 minutes and is followed by an antiphon to Our Lady in Gregorian Chant. Silence lasts from the end of this office until Matins the next day.