Collections

The Stonyhurst Collections include a museum, archives, three historic libraries and a rich study collection. These are housed together in a prominent part of the remarkable buildings at Stonyhurst, overlooking the 16th century Front Quad and the formal Avenue, although many artefacts are on open display around the College. The Museum and Historic Libraries are housed in a Victorian wing of the College, built in the 1850s to complete the grand frontage at Stonyhurst which had been left unfinished by the Shireburn family in the 17th century.

The Collections are managed by the Curator, Jan Graffius, and Archives Manager, Joseph Reed, who make the Collections accessible to the Stonyhurst community and to the public.

Museum

The Museum is a modern display space with state-of-the-art facilities, showcasing a representative sample of the College’s remarkable and wide-ranging Collections.

It is housed in the refurbished ground floor of a former College chapel. The College recorded its first acquisition in 1609 - a stunning 15th century cope and chasuble commissioned by Henry VII for royal occasions in Westminster Abbey. Since then, the museum collections have expanded significantly and cover a wide variety of periods and cultures. At the core of the collections are substantial holdings of English Catholic material culture dating from the late mediaeval period onwards, salvaged from destruction in the English Reformation and sent to the College for safekeeping throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Important donations from Jesuit missionaries, former pupils and parents, from 1800 to the present day, have substantially broadened the range of artefacts held in the museum collections.

The displays include:

Textiles

An internationally important collection of liturgical vestments from the 15th century to the 20th century, as well as medieval and later embroideries, historic clothing and fabrics.

Paintings, drawings, and prints,including works by Turner, Rembrandt, Dürer and many other notable artists.

 

Religious objects and church plate

These include the British Jesuit Province’s important relics collection cared for at Stonyhurst, which includes a Thorn from the Crown of Thorns, and Christian relics from the 1st to the 20th centuries, including Becket, the English Martyrs and St Oscar Romero. The College cares for a rare and beautiful collection of church silver, both English and European, from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Many of these precious items are in use in the College liturgies on important feast days.

Manuscripts

From the 12th century onwards, including many fine illuminated Books of Hours.

Ethnographic artefacts

From every continent in the world, from Ancient Egypt to the fall of the Berlin Wall, collected by Jesuit missionaries and former pupils.

Photography

The thousands of photographs in the collection include work by pioneering photographer Roger Fenton in the late 1850s, the global traveller and photographer Alexander Hill Gray in the 1860s, and the war photojournalist, and former pupil, Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya in 2011.

Scientific and taxidermy specimen

Comprising the work of naturalists Charles Waterton, St George Jackson Mivart, and Baron Anatole von Hügel, as well as 17th century Chinese and Mogul astronomical equipment and an important herbarium collection.

Archeological finds

Fossils, prehistoric tools, and objects from ancient civilisations including our Egyptian mummy.

Libraries

At St Omers the College had two prestigious libraries as well as large collections of music scores and playscripts. While only a small part of the original library collections was salvaged when the school moved to England following the French Revolution in 1794, the libraries were rapidly rebuilt in the 19th century. Today these rare and important collections are housed in the three Historic Libraries: