Why choose Stonyhurst College?

At the heart of everything we do is delivering an exceptional education for our pupils and ensuring that their formation, both inside and outside of the classroom, is the best in the world.

John Browne, Headmaster


Stonyhurst College, together with its prep school Stonyhurst St Mary’s Hall, is the UK’s leading independent Catholic boarding and day school for boys and girls aged 3 – 18 years.

We recognise young people for the unique individuals they are, helping them to develop and share their particular gifts and talents.

We constantly look to innovate and use our extensive history and traditions as a lens on the present and the future.  At the heart of everything we do is delivering an exceptional education for our pupils and ensuring that their formation, both inside and outside of the classroom, is the best in the world. We empower them to be the best that they can be, shaping leaders of the future.

As a Jesuit school in the UK, the values upon which Stonyhurst was founded in 1593 continue to underpin everything that we do today. Our pupils are encouraged to involve themselves fully in the opportunities offered to them. Living in a supportive and diverse community, they are helped to develop those qualities of character that will distinguish them in later life as men and women for others. 

An Ignatian school provides a foundation for such a life, an education that nurtures  individuality and encourages generosity. It is a springboard to a life of purpose. We achieve high academic results, have exceptional pastoral care, and offer an extensive range of co-curricular activities. 



Jesuit schools are places committed to outstanding formation of character, wanting to develop their pupils into young adults who will go on to live good and virtuous lives.  Stonyhurst continues to have a permanent Jesuit presence on the staff and a Jesuit Chaplain who lives and works at the College.  We also have a Lay Chaplaincy Team.  The College welcomes young people who support our ethos and pedagogy, including those who belong to other Christian traditions or other faiths.


Stonyhurst College has an outstanding academic record, with many pupils going on to the best universities in the UK, Europe and around the world.

In 2018 we achieved the highest UK Government Value-Added Scores in Sixth Form of any Catholic Independent School.

Teaching at Stonyhurst centres on the individual and encourages pupils to study independently and to think for themselves. Small classes and positive teacher–pupil relationships enable pupils to achieve their full academic potential. All pupils have a personal tutor. An effective learning support department enables those with special educational needs to achieve their best.

The Sixth Form offers a choice of three study routes – A Level, International Baccalaureate Diploma or the IB Career Related Programme. Pupils receive a wealth of support to guide them through their chosen courses and to assist them with their university application.

Creative and Performing Arts

The creative life of the College is rich and varied, offering many opportunities to learn, perform and compete across music, art, drama and dance.  Drama has been a key feature of school life at Stonyhurst since the 16th century.  The school has its own First Folio of Shakespeare, which is used by all pupils during their time here.


Stonyhurst is world famous for its sporting tradition. In rugby, hockey, tennis and netball we have an exceptional track record and talent pathways. Pupils play for fun or at national level, according to their potential.  International tours take Stonyhurst pupils all over the world. The main team games are rugby, hockey, cricket, netball, athletics and football. 

Additional sports include tennis, cross-country running, gymnastics, basketball, and swimming. Facilities include a swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course, all-weather pitch, and indoor and outdoor tennis courts. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is extremely successful too, as is the Combined Cadet Force. Over 100 different activities are offered each week.


Educational excellence

The pupils are well educated in line with the school's aim to prepare young people intellectually, spiritually and emotionally for the modern world. They achieve well academically and across a wide range of sporting, musical and other creative activities."

ISI Report 2016

Stonyhurst has a strong reputation for educational excellence rooted in the Jesuit belief that excellence in education and learning is Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam, for the greater glory of God.

Our academic staff are talented, knowledgeable and passionate about their subject areas – each and every one of our teachers has been hand-picked not only because of their ability to teach, but because of their ability to inspire.

Educational excellence at Stonyhurst extends far beyond academic subjects and classrooms. Cura personalis, care for the whole person, is at the heart of Jesuit schools, therefore co-curricular activities and formation of character also form part of a Stonyhurst education.

New students respond enthusiastically to our pupil-centred teaching which, from foundation stage to sixth form, stimulates intellectual curiosity and fosters a lifelong passion for learning.

GCSE Results 2018

In 2018, we were delighted that our students’ hard work resulted in some outstanding GCSE results.  That 57% of our students achieved results in the new top tier of Band 9-7, equivalent to A*-A in the previous system, was a remarkable accomplishment.

A Level Results 2018

 The Stonyhurst motto ‘as much as I can’ was certainly been demonstrated by the fantastic group of young people in Rhetoric last year with an outstanding set of results at A Level.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Results 2018

As a non-selective school, the pupils at Stonyhurst have achieved strong results across a wide breadth of subjects. The 100 per cent pass rate is a testament to the school staff and the hard work of our students, and we are very proud of the effort they have put in.”

Perspectives and horizons

Pupils show the strong impact of the school's work to actively promote understanding of democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law, and tolerance and respect."

ISI Report 2016

The modern world is a complex place, which is why we know how important it is for our students to broaden their perspectives and expand their horizons – we want them to think and act both locally and globally. As part of the Global Network of Jesuit Schools, an IB World School and a boarding school that welcomes students from all over the world, Stonyhurst is strongly positioned to develop international mindedness and has a proven track record in doing so.

We have partnerships and exchange programmes in place with Jesuit schools in Uruguay, Spain, Germany and Italy and there are opportunities for students to go on educational and charitable overseas trips.

A diverse speaker programme is in place, bringing in guest speakers from all walks of life to inform, educate and debate with our students. In addition, pupils have access to the historical Stonyhurst Collections as a learning resource – this is unique to our school and not only brings history to life, but encourages students to draw analogies between historical events and current affairs,

Faith that does justice

Jesuit schools encourage pupils to put their faith into action as 'men and women for others' who place their time and talents at the service of the poor and less fortunate in the world."

The Spirit of Jesuit Education - Jesuit Schools in Britain


At Stonyhurst, all that we do is Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (for the greater glory of God), and every pupil, whatever their religious background, is encouraged to participate in the spiritual life of the school.

Children of all religions and none value our supportive and prayerful community, which helps them to develop the habit of reflection and to grow in a personal relationship with God.  For our Catholic pupils, we are delighted to offer preparation for their First Communion or Confirmation.

In addition to regular worship, we celebrate special Feast Days and Masses. Annual retreats and pilgrimages include the Holy Island pilgrimage and Stonyhurst Lourdes pilgrimage and many OS spend a gap year working for Jesuit Missions around the world.

Stonyhurst challenges everyone to live out their faith in practical ways, from Lenten ‘fast’ lunches to becoming ‘men and women for others’ through our extensive voluntary service programme.

Our latest full inspection report acknowledges that ‘‘The foundation of faith, a key feature of the school, is evident in all areas of school life”.

Our Chaplaincy team is based in the Emmaus Centre, which is located at the heart of the school.

The Society of Jesus has always emphasised the importance of contemplation and reflection, and we welcome students who wish to take time out from busy College life in the Emmaus Centre or seek spiritual guidance from our Chaplains.

Catholic values

As one of the pioneers of Jesuit education observed, "To educate the young is to transform the world." There can be no more important mission.

Adrian Porter SJ, Provincial Delegate for Education

Our Jesuit principles provide a solid foundation to our mission to develop our pupils’ unique talents, challenging them to give of their very best in all that they do, Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam, to the greater glory of God, and to find God in all things.

We help our pupils to grow to possess the values and qualities of the Jesuit pupil profile in abundance.

With Jesus at the centre of our caring, supportive and prayerful community of pupils, staff and parents, we know our pupils as individuals, provide for their specific needs and help them to become well-rounded.

We nurture independently-minded young people, able to think for themselves and stand up for their beliefs, preparing them intellectually, spiritually and emotionally to play an active role in the world.

We help pupils to find God in the majesty of His creation, to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to them.

"People sometimes ask what makes a Jesuit school different or distinctive. Saint Ignatius Loyola (the 16th century founder of the Society of Jesus and Jesuit schools) gave the answer that a Jesuit school should be about “improvement in living and learning for the greater glory of God and the common good.”

Jesuit schools strive to give a first class education but they are also places committed to outstanding formation of character, wanting their pupils to develop into well-educated adults who will live good and virtuous lives. Jesuit schools hope that the young people they form, in partnership with parents, will make the most of their God-given gifts and talents and use their education as ‘men and women for others’ to make the world a better place, especially for the least well off and most socially marginalised.

Fr Adrian Porter SJ,  Delegate for Education
British Province of the Society of Jesus

The Global Network of Jesuit Schools

Map showing the Global Network of Jesuit Schools

What our recent pupils say

Joseph Reed OS (2011)

"I spent 11 of the happiest years of my life at Stonyhurst, starting at St Mary's Hall in Prep, aged 7.  Stonyhurst taught me to discern what I think, and to be able to stand by it; to discern my talents, and to use them as much as I can for others; and to discern who I am, and how best I might serve the world around me."

Mary Flanagan OS (2014)

"My incredible 7 year journey at Stonyhurst shaped not only my education but me as a person.  It gave me the skills, education and confidence to not only get into Cambridge University, but to make the most of it."


What our current pupils say

'I love going to school everyday in the countryside - I used to go to school in London and spent one hour a day on the Tube.  Here we have space to learn, to play, to create and to thrive.'

'The facilities are fantastic - it's like a university.'

'Stonyhurst is a big family - living together makes real friends for life.  It is a happy and supportive place where everyone matters.''

'There is no "Stonyhurst Type".  Everyone is different and the diversity of people makes Stonyhurst very special.'


Our location: The Ribble Valley

Stonyhurst is located in heart of the Ribble Valley in Lancashire, an area of outstanding natural beauty in the Northwest of England.

The location is stunning and peaceful.  The other major landowner in the region is the Queen, through her Duchy of Lancaster.  Royal biographer Sarah Bradford revealed in her book, Elizabeth, that the Queen herself would retire to the Ribble Valley if she could!

“Gorgeousness and gastronomy”

The Times on the Ribble Valley in Best Places to Live 2018

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Stonyhurst and the Ribble Valley provides an idyllic setting for education.

At Stonyhurst children can enjoy being children and grow into outstanding young adults while benefiting from the wellbeing, safety and happiness that comes with life in the countryside.

We are just over two hours from London by train and within a one hour drive of Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester Airport. The school is based in a rural village called Hurst Green and Clitheroe and Whalley are our nearest small towns.

“An area of outstanding natural beauty, well-known for its scenic countryside, delicious food and famous landmarks, Ribble Valley is at the official centre of the Kingdom and is a place infused with history, holding a wonderfully rich heritage.”

Visit Lancashire


Our history

Our school was originally founded in Saint-Omer, near Calais, in 1593 by Fr Robert Persons SJ under the patronage of Philip II of Spain. The purpose of the College was to provide a Catholic education for English boys at a time when this was prohibited in the pupils’ own country.

In 1762 Louis XV of France expelled the Jesuit order from his kingdom, and the College was forced to move from Saint-Omer and was re-established at Bruges. Following the worldwide suppression of the Jesuits by Pope Clement XIV in 1773, the school was offered sanctuary in Liege where it remained for twenty-one years. Following the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, Liege was besieged by Revolutionary forces in 1794, and the College was forced to seek refuge in England.

By that time, the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1791 had been passed in Parliament, which permitted Catholic schools to operate within England . A former pupil of the College at Bruges, Thomas Weld of Lulworth, offered his empty house, Stonyhurst Hall, as a temporary refuge until such time as it was safe to return to the continent. The first pupils arrived from Liege on the 29th of August 1794 and the school, henceforth known as Stonyhurst College, began its first academic year in England.