The monastery at Ealing was founded in 1897 from Downside Abbey, originally as a parish in the Archdiocese of Westminster. It was canonically erected as a dependent priory in 1916 and raised again to the rank of independent conventual priory in 1947. Finally, in 1955 it was elevated to the status of an abbey by Pope Pius XII.
One of the main apostolates of the Abbey is running a major parish in Ealing centred on the Abbey Church of Saint Benedict where both the parish and monastic liturgies take place.
Ealing Abbey Choir of boys' and men's voices sings at the Sunday Conventual Mass. The choir appeared in the BBC television programme Songs of Praise in 2005.
The Abbey has an active programme of music recitals, which include the choirs and the organ. Occasional concerts by other choirs are also held.
The monks of Ealing accept clerical and lay men as guests in the monastery, on the understanding that guests will attend morning mass and evening vespers with the monks. Residential and non residential guests are welcome at the sung liturgy of the hours in the Abbey Church and the monks have a house for guests and retreatants.
A major work of the Abbey in the past has been teaching and administration in St Benedict's School, founded as Ealing Priory School in 1902 by Sebastian Cave. This is an independent day school for boys and, since 2007, girls at both the junior and senior levels. There is also a small co-educational nursery. Since 1987 the Abbey has engaged a lay headmaster for the school having previously provided the headmaster from foundation. In 2012 the trust of St Benedict, Ealing created a new charitable trust, St Benedict's School, and passed school administration to a new board of governors. As a result, members of the monastic community are more free to choose different apostolates. The Abbey also has close links with the nearby girls' school St Augustine's Priory, a former convent school.
The monks of Ealing also run the Benedictine Study and Arts Centre, which was originally suggested in 1986 by Francis Rossiter, the Abbot, and opened in 1992 by Laurence Soper, then Abbot. The present Abbot, Martin Shipperlee, has continued his support since his election in 2000. The Centre, which is endorsed and supported by the Archdiocese of Westminster, has developed and provides a Liberal Arts programme of adult education and a programme of Sacred Liturgy, with some officially validated courses. The studies pursued now focus upon Sacred Liturgy and the Liberal Arts, including theology (go to directory of institutions) and both modern and classical languages, of which the Latin summer school has become a regular feature of the annual programme.
The Centre's library contains three main collections for undergraduate liberal studies and graduate study in theology and liturgy. Its current contents are based on a collection assembled in Oxford, London and Rome from 1978 to 1992, subsequently supplemented by purchase and gift, in particular by recent donations from several members of the Alcuin Club.
The Centre is based at "Overton House", an elegant red-brick, neo-gothic property built by John M. Bartholomew, son of the founder of John Bartholomew and Son, the map-maker; the name of "J.M. Bartholomew" features in some carved stones in the walls of the garden. The property was purchased by Downside Abbey in 1930 and sold to Ealing Abbey upon its independence in 1955.
In 2002 the Centre's principal, James Leachman, was appointed professor of Liturgy at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy at Sant Anselmo in Rome, from where, as a tenured professor, he still directs its work. The UK arm of the project, Appreciating the Liturgy (based on the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia), founded and directed by James Leachman and Daniel McCarthy, a monk of St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Kansas, has been housed since 2009 in the former "Scriptorum" at the Centre, originally established by Bernard Orchard in 2003.
The Centre publishes the periodical Benedictine Culture twice each year.
Bernard Orchard, the biblical scholar, was a distinguished monk of Ealing.
Ealing Abbey has been the home for parts of the careers of various notable monks. Between 1933–1939, David Knowles, the monastic historian and later Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge resided there and conducted the research for his magnum opus The Monastic Order in England. Cuthbert Butler also lived at Ealing following his retirement as Abbot of Downside from 1922 until his death in 1934. John Main, a proponent of Christian meditation, whose methods are now fostered by the World Community for Christian Meditation, was a monk of the Ealing community in the period 1959–1970 and 1974–1977.
In April 2006 civil damages were awarded jointly against David Pearce, a former head of the junior school at St Benedicts, and Ealing Abbey in the High Court in relation to an alleged assault by Pearce on a pupil while teaching at St Benedict's School in the 1990s, although criminal charges were dropped. He was subsequently charged in November 2008 with 24 counts of indecent assault, sexual touching and gross indecency with six boys aged under 16. The counts related to incidents before and after 2003, when the law was changed to create an offence of sexual touching. After admitting his guilt at Isleworth Crown Court to offences going back to 1972 Pearce was jailed for eight years in October 2009. The conduct of the Ealing monastic community, as trustee of the St. Benedict's Trust, was examined by the Charity Commission, which found that it had failed to take adequate measures to protect beneficiaries of the charity from Pearce.
In March 2011, Laurence Soper, the Abbot during the 1990s, was arrested on child abuse charges relating to the period when he was a teacher at, and the bursar of, St Benedict's School; it was reported in October 2011 that he had failed to answer bail and was being sought by the police. In May 2016 the BBC reported that he had been arrested in Kosovo and that he faced extradition back to the UK.
The following monks have served as Prior and, since elevation to the status of Abbey on 26 May 1955, Abbot: