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Jesuit schools and colleges

Jesuits have been involved in education almost since the Society's foundation, and as Catholic educational establishments were banned in England and Wales, English Jesuits founded schools and colleges on the continent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  These served two groups.  The schools provided a Catholic education for the sons of English recusant families, supplying a culturally as well as pedagogically Catholic milieu for these children.  Secondly most of the colleges provided training for young Jesuits.  Some of these institutions lasted a long time, and had to move several times as political, religious and security issues dictated. 

The Jesuit Schools and Colleges had libraries, usually at least two, a Great Library for the Jesuit teachers, and a Junior or Scholastics library for pupils or trainee Jesuits.  When they had to move from one location to the next, transporting the books was fraught with difficulties, and taken seriously, yet on occasion disasters happened.  When the staff and students of the English Academy left Liège precipitously for Stonyhurst, 13 crates of books were left to be sent on, but were instead impounded at Maastricht by the French Army and sent to Paris.  


Clandestine Catholic schools were established in England.  Forty two are known from the first half of the seventeenth century, and many had strong Jesuit links including the one at Stanley Grange founded in around 1620 - see below for more.  Schools needed books, and the books often bear witness of having been school books, whether through inscription, annotation, or the doodles of a  school child. 

The English College, St Omers, Bruges, Liège and Stonyhurst

The English Jesuits opened their school at St-Omers in 1593 in what was then the Spanish Netherlands.  The English College at St Omer, as it became known, educated English Catholic boys who were not allowed to receive a Catholic education in England.  Despite its name it educated boys from Wales, Ireland, the Caribbean and Maryland in America as well as from England.  By the 1760s St-Omers was in French territory, so when the French expelled all Jesuits in 1762 the school had to move.  It went to Bruges, where it stayed until 1773, when the Jesuits were suppressed.  At this point the English boys and their Jesuit teachers went to Liège where they were given refuge by the tolerant Prince-Bishop, and amalgamated with the existing English Jesuit College there, and renamed the English Academy.  After 20 years they were again disturbed, this time by the armies of the French Revolution, and moved for a final time, to Stonyhurst in Lancashire.  They settled there, the regime in England now being more favourable to Catholic institutions.

The history of the English College in the second half of the eighteenth century is complex and the book provenance for this period can be labyrinthine, especially the time at Liège, when the English College from Bruges and the pre-existing English College already there were amalgamated as the English Academy.  The library during the Liège years was developed as a new institution and by 1792, when a catalogue was made,  comprised more than 7000 volumes, with the older libraries effectively mothballed.  See below for more, and see Whitehead English Jesuit Education  p 136-142.

Below is a gallery showing provenance marks for Stonyhurst.  We will soon be updating this section with marks for early locations of the School.

Click on any of the images below to find out more.

The English College Louvain, Liège, Stonyhurst, St Beuno's,  Heythrop

The English Jesuits established a training centre for young Jesuits in Louvain in 1614.  Here, after  completing their time as novices,  they would be taught philosophy and theology.  In 1621 the College moved to Liège, supported financially by the elector of Bavaria, Maximilian I.  An annual 'Bavarian pension' was paid from 1626 until 1741, which allowed for the stability of the College and the flourishing of the education it provided, including its library.  When the Society was suppressed in 1773, good relations with the city authorities meant the College was allowed to continue with relatively minor adjustments, and the Ex-Jesuits continued to teach, now as secular clergy.  At the same time, the English pupils and masters from St Omers, having been expelled from Bruges, arrived at Liège and all the Ex-Jesuits were combined into one educational establishment, which was given the name the English Academy.  This continued until it had to flee to Stonyhurst in 1793.  Some of the library made it to Stonyhurst; it is unclear what proportion.  It is unlikely that the 13 crates of books confiscated at Maastricht and sent to Paris were the only books that did not survive the journey.  The library settled at Stonyhurst and from 1826 at the adjacent St Mary's Hall.  However in 1848 St Beuno's in North Wales was opened for the Theologians (a two year part of Jesuit training) and the theology and spirituality collections moved with them, leaving the philosophy collection at Stonyhurst.  The library was reunited in 1926 when both parts moved to Heythrop College in Oxfordshire.  In 1970 it moved once more, this time to London where, still known as Heythrop College, it became part of the University of London until final closure in 2018.  Thanks are due to the Heythrop Library for their help with this history of the institution and its library.

The gallery below contains images which relate to this College.  The first two are testament to the early move from Leuven to  Liège, with 'Louvainij' struck through in the inscription and replaced with 'Leodij'.  Click on any of the images to find out more.

Stanley Grange, Mount St Mary's, Spinkhill

There have been successive Jesuit schools in Derbyshire/Leicestershire/Nottinghamshire – the area covered by the Jesuit administrative district known as the College of the Immaculate Conception.  There was a school at Great Ashby in Leicestershire from about 1607, run by the Jesuit William Wright SJ.  After 1615 it was at Shoby, but had transferred to Stanley Grange before 1625.   It was raided and shut in 1635.  Two chests of books were seized at this time.  Despite the raid, a successor school soon opened, and this was probably based at Park Hill, at Spinkhill, where the current Mount St Mary’s School is located.  It was certainly functioning in the 1640s, and seems to have acted as a feeder school for St Omers.   Spinkhill has long been a locus of Jesuit activity, and a Jesuit living there in 1721, Fr Joseph Blundell SJ, made a list of the books kept there.  He also wrote in many of the books - click here for more on Blundell and his books. There may have been some educational activity throughout the early eighteenth century.  The modern school of Mount St Mary's was founded in 1842 and represented a continuation of earlier Jesuit pedagogical activity in the area.  Mount St Mary's College retained a large collection of Antiquarian books which was transferred to the British Jesuit Archive in Mount Street in the late 1990s or early 2000s.  Many of these books contain marks associated with earlier institutions.  More work is needed on these books, which will in time help us to untangle the provenance history of more of the books from Mount St Mary's and other institutions in and around Derbyshire.

Click on the images below to find out more

Other Jesuit Schools

In this section are images of ownership marks from other schools in the Province.  Click on the images to find out more.  This area will soon expand to include more Jesuit schools as we take more photographs.

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