History

“Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures … [It is] the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.” (United Nations’ World Poetry Day website).The British Province of the Society of Jesus can count many poets among its members. In previous ‘From the Archives’ blog posts we have already celebrated the verses written down and often beautifully decorated by philosophy students in the...
Manuscript of Taffy the Welsh Mouse
Having celebrated St David’s Day earlier this week, it seems appropriate that this week’s Object from the Stonyhurst College collection focuses on Wales.  ‘The Mouse Trap’ is a poem written in English and Latin by John Formby, when he was a student at St. Omers in 1729, aged 17. Such poems were written by pupils to be performed on suitable occasions, and it is very likely that The Mouse Trap was declaimed by John Formby on St David’s Day in 1729.It is believed that John Formby is in fact...
This year, on the 2nd of March, over 100 countries across the world will be celebrating World Book Day, and 2017 marks the 20th such annual celebration of authors, illustrators, books and reading, designated by UNESCO.Here at the Jesuits in Britain Archives, it is not purely archival material, which preserves the records of the British Province in the form of unique written documents, that we care for. We also look after a large number of antiquarian books dating to the 16th-17th centuries,...
Warriors, Sketch of Augustus Law SJ c1880
There is a small sketchbook in the Stonyhurst College collections, with a number of curious and moving drawings and paintings by a Jesuit priest who is popularly known as the Martyr of the Zambezi.Augustus Law was converted to Catholicism when serving as a junior officer in the Navy. He joined the Jesuits in 1854, and twenty-one years later set sail for South Africa, feeling a strong call to be a missionary. He founded St Aidan’s College for boys in Grahamstown and learnt the Zulu language...
The purpose of the Jesuit in Britain Archives is to collect, preserve and make available records concerning the Jesuits in Britain. This is the basic principle by which we in the Archives work on a daily basis. For hundreds of years, people have been creating records on paper and parchment and the Jesuits are no exception, with some of our records dating as far back as the sixteenth century. For Archivists, these types of records are fairly easy to preserve and manage; once they have been...
St Omers Customs Book
This week’s object may seem less exciting that some previous examples, consisting as it does of a 20th century typescript of a lost 17th century document, but it is of critical importance in the shaping of the College’s mission early in its history, and has had a lasting, profound effect on the development of the College ethos since 1601.In 1617, the second Rector of St Omers College, Fr Giles Schondonch, became aware that his end was near and he was keen to pass on his hard-won...
Manuscript LXV c1475-1525
Among Stonyhurst’s medieval manuscripts are some of the most significant and famous books in the College’s collection: a rare copy of Froissart’s Chronicle of the Hundred Years’ War with France, an illuminated book of hours once belonging to Henry VIII’s mother, Elizabeth of York, and an early manuscript copy of Chaucer, among many other pieces. However, this week’s object, whilst not particularly famous, is certainly one of the most beautiful in the...
“We know that, by turning everything to their good, God co-operates with all those who love him, with all those he has called according to His purpose” (Romans 8: 28).These were the opening words used by Fr Michael Hannan SJ in his sermon at the Solemn Concelebrated Mass at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Wimbledon, 2 March 1977 for the seven missionaries who were murdered in Rhodesia 40 years ago, on 6 February 1977.St Paul’s Mission, Musami, about 60 miles northeast of...
St Omers Lamb Chasuble Mid-17th century, restored 1827
We begin a series of blog posts from Stonyhurst College.  Each week we highlight a different object from their extensive collection of relics and artefacts which represent the oldest museum in the English speaking world.  Since 1609 thousands of ancient, precious and sacred objects have been entrusted to the Jesuits and the College, reflecting its unique role as a sanctuary for world culture spanning millennia.This object for this week has been chosen to celebrate the Feast Day of St...
Photo of a portrait of Fr Lester
One of my main tasks since starting in my position as Archives Assistant at the Jesuits in Britain Archives in September 2016 has been cataloguing the Osterley Papers.Campion House at Osterley belonged to the Society for the best part of 90 years, and for most of that time it ran as a college with the stated aim of saving late vocations.  It accepted men who felt they might have a vocation but whose education was insufficient or too long ago, and brought them up to scratch academically,...

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