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:
James Everard, 10th Lord Arundell, donated his family’s library to his old school in the 1830s. This fine collection of some 4,000 volumes includes a First Folio of Shakespeare and many rare, early printed books, in addition to numerous important 17th century Catholic texts.
The Arundell is also a Victorian cabinet of curiosities, in which a changing display of rare and intriguing artefacts are housed, such as Mary Tudor’s Book of Hours used by her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots.
This Humanities library is distributed around separate bays set aside for the use of individuals for private study. Unlike the Arundell Library, the Bay is a working library with new publications included among books dating back to the mid 16th century. Today, this library is available to pupils in Higher Line as a place of silent study, subject to specific rules tailored to such an historic environment.
The Square Library represents the surviving theological collection from St Omers, with at least three hundred texts from that first library. The subject matter of the library includes texts on divinity, the lives of the saints, Church history particularly English Catholic history, Jesuit missionary texts and works by theologians such as Aquinas, Augustine and Anselm.
Today, as well as being a reading room for visiting researchers, the Square is used as a museum teaching space for Stonyhurst pupils and visiting school groups.