Back to Worth – Priory, Abbey and School
The five Agius brothers who went to war were all educated by the Benedictines of Downside Abbey in Somerset. Starting in 1900 with Alfred, Edgar and Tancred (who became Dom Ambrose of Downside Abbey and later Ealing Abbey) , then Arthur and finally Dickie who left in July 1914, a few days before war was declared.
Since then 26 descendants of Edward T Agius have attended Downside School as well as numerous cousins.
In 1933 Downside Abbey bought the Paddockhurst estate in Sussex in order to start a junior school to feed the senior school at Downside. It was a dependent monastic foundation called Worth Priory (named after a nearby village) with monks from Downside running Worth Preparatory School. The school was evacuated to Downside during WW2 but returned in September 1945 and grew to be one of the biggest Preparatory Schools in the country by the late 1950s, taking in boys as young as 6 years old.
In 1957 Downside Abbey granted Worth Priory independence , and in 1959 a new senior school, Worth School, was started. Worth Preparatory School was gradually reduced over the next 6 years until in 1965, when Worth Priory became Worth Abbey, the Prep School became Worth Junior House taking in boys aged 11 for 2 years. It retained it’s separate identity to Worth (Senior) School for another 35 years , after which time it was integrated with the senior school and renamed Austin House.
One of Edward’s grandsons , Joseph Agius (son of Joseph), became Dom Denis of Downside. He was clothed in 1931 and ordained in 1938. He taught at Worth Prep School 1934-1937, and returned after the war to be Chapman Housemaster 1948-1957. On independence he chose to return to Downside Abbey.
Edgar’s son , Peter, arrived at Worth Prep in May 1934 at the end of the foundation year.
4 great-grandsons of Edward attended Worth Preparatory School and carried on to Downside – David Arrigo, Michael Agius, Arthur Denaro and Peter Agius.
A great-nephew , John Muscat (nephew of Mary Muscat nurse in Malta in WW1), was a founder member of Worth School in 1959. And a great-great-grandson, Roger Bennett, is also a ‘Worthian’.