Historic Collections, Archives and Museum

Every item in the Collections and Historic Libraries tells a story; to teach, to intrigue, and to provoke searching questions about our past and the present world we inhabit.

Jan Graffius, Curator

Stonyhurst College has collected remarkable artefacts and books from its earliest days at St Omers, offering sanctuary to sacred medieval objects at risk of destruction during the Reformation. The first items arrived at the College in 1609; sumptuous 15th century cloth of gold and red silk damask velvet vestments, ordered by Henry VII for use in Westminster Abbey and taken by Henry VIII to the Field of Cloth of Gold.  From the date of this acquisition, we make our claim to be the oldest museum in the English-speaking world.

Many of the objects in the Collections bear witness to its unique place in English Catholic history, while others show how pupils and staff have made their mark on the world as scientists, travellers, archaeologists, antiquarians, soldiers, civil servants and missionaries all over the globe. Notable paintings by artists such as Turner, Lely, Rembrandt and Rubens were bought, or donated to the College, to embellish the walls and to inspire with their beauty. Stunning 17th century Flemish baroque church silver, available to view in the museum, continues to be used in our liturgies on feast days. Former pupils and their families have bequeathed treasured possessions to benefit subsequent generations. Every item in the Collections and Historic Libraries tells a story; to teach, to intrigue, and to provoke searching questions about our past and the present world we inhabit.