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Stonyhurst College, South Front, Boys' Chapel and Shirk

A Grade II* Listed Building in Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.8469 / 53°50'49"N

Longitude: -2.4711 / 2°28'16"W

OS Eastings: 369100

OS Northings: 439070

OS Grid: SD691390

Mapcode National: GBR CR5Y.SQ

Mapcode Global: WH96H.0KKQ

Plus Code: 9C5VRGWH+QG

Entry Name: Stonyhurst College, South Front, Boys' Chapel and Shirk

Listing Date: 14 January 2015

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1419717

Location: Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley, Ribble Valley, Lancashire, BB7

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Hurst Green St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn

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School buildings, c1799 and later by Dunn & Hansom, Edmund Kirby and others.


Roman Catholic boarding school, comprising classrooms, playrooms, dormitories, chapels, libraries, former infirmary, communal areas, collection display rooms and archive stores, and offices.

SHIRK, 1799 for Father Charles Wright. SOUTH FRONT 1875-1888 by Dunn & Hansom, including Boys Chapel.

MATERIALS: sandstone ashlar or coursed dressed stone, with deep moulded plinths, string courses, pilasters, cornices and parapets; pitched Welsh slate roof to Shirk, flat asphalt roofs to the South Front. Georgian and Renaissance Revival style.
PLAN: SHIRK has corridor along north side of each floor, rooms arranged to face south. The SOUTH FRONT has central entrance block with corridors, called galleries, along north side, L-plan east wing arranged over four floors and L-plan west wing on three floor incorporating the Boys Chapel over two floors.

EXTERIOR: SHIRK: 1799, for Father Charles Wright; the first building erected for the Jesuits. 3-storey, 3:2:3 bays to south front. Pedimented central element breaks forward, with chamfered quoins. Coursed dressed sandstone with ashlar dressings, Welsh slate roof, missing stacks. First-floor sill band, plain parapet. Ground-floor windows have Gibbs surrounds, upper floors have plain architraves; first-floor tripartite windows are carried up to second floor as Venetian windows. Right return has semi-circular headed stair window. Rear elevation facing north is plainer, with one upper-floor tripartite window. Blind west gable-end.

SOUTH FRONT: 1875-1888, by Dunn & Hansom. On site of demolished south front built c.1810. 3-storey, 15-bay central range flanked by similar but unmatched wings which break forward to enclose a wide forecourt; 8-bay 3-storey west wing, 9-bay east wing is 3-storey over a basement. Sandstone ashlar, asphalt flat roofs, recessed lead rainwater goods. English Renaissance Revival style. Richly detailed south, east and west elevations with moulded plinths, string courses, pilasters, strapwork friezes, pierced parapets. Mullioned and transomed windows, projecting bays. 5-bay entrance block breaks forward from central range with ground floor arcaded loggia and 24-light mullioned and transomed windows to first floor More Library, flanking octagonal turrets with copper domed cupolas. West-wing stair turret is similar. North elevation is plainer. East elevation oriel window, 1922 by Edmund Kirby, for WWI war memorial.

BOYS CHAPEL: 1888 by Dunn and Hansom. First-floor chapel between the west wing and the central block. Ashlar, copper roof. Gothic Revival style. Principal elevation faces west but is not prominent: 2-storey, 6-bay. Elevation divided into two levels above ground floor; confessionals and sacristy at first-floor level with flat roof behind battlemented parapet, above and set-back are six 4-light pointed windows with Perpendicular tracery, recessed within an outer arcade. Richly embellished pilasters have statues on plinths below traceried canopies at confessional level, carried up to gargoyles at eaves level, rising above the pierced battlemented parapet are seated statues. 4-bay east elevation has plainer fenestration with square-headed windows, and Gothic Revival stepped buttresses and rich detail at eaves parapet level.

INTERIORS: SHIRK has stone flagged floor to ground floor corridor, with two blocked tracery windows to Bayley Room.

SOUTH FRONT by Dunn & Hansom has longitudinal north corridors (LOWER AND TOP GALLERIES) to ground and first floors with terrazzo floors, pitch pine 6-panelled doors in moulded architraves, tongue and grooved ceilings are compartmentalised with moulded pine beams. CHAPEL LANDING to west end has timber open-well staircase with closed strings, square vase balusters, carved mythical beasts to newels, moulded handrails and Hawksleys patent treads. Late-C19 gothic niche with statue of Sacred Heart to north wall, and fine heraldic stained glass by Paul Woodroffe, c1920, C16 style decorative plasterwork. Bronze South Africa War Memorial also by Paul Woodroffe, set in wall panelling. Other staircases in similar, simpler style and with arcaded landings; east staircase walls fitted with collection of late-C19 memorials, and gothic relief panel with traceried canopy, ornate cast-iron radiator cover to ground floor. FIRST WORLD WAR MEMORIAL at east end of Top Gallery in apsidal projection by Edmund Kirby & Sons, 1922, with bas relief crucifixon by Gilbert Ledward, stained glass by Patrick Feeny, 1993. Classrooms and playrooms have pine beams on stone corbels and bolection moulded stone chimneypieces. Second-floor dormitory retains some pitch pine bed cubicles. Inserted partitions and mezzanines are not of special interest. Service staircase in east wing has continuous handrail and lifting gear. ACADEMY ROOM to east wing has ornate plasterwork, stage, raked seating and linenfold panelling, proscenium arch added 1924. Music rooms in basement retain some late-C19 pine and glass cubicles. WEST WING, formerly accommodation for Jesuit priests has cellular plan, pine joinery, corridors with ribbed flat or vaulted plaster ceilings and cast-iron fireplaces in marble chimneypieces, timber spiral staircase with cast-iron twisted balusters. Former washing place (now Campion Room) has octagonal pine columns to compartmentalised pine ceiling and arcaded wall to corridor. Angel Chapel has 1930s stained glass. BOYS CHAPEL entered by rich gothic stone ogee aedicule with pinnacles over a pair of pointed doorways, oak organ loft over narthex with traceried arcade, linenfold panelling to gallery, 7-bay roof with timber fan-vaulting over nave and sanctuary. Four traceried oak oriel windows flanked by stone statuary, at upper level on liturgical north wall for Jesuit community use. Richly carved gothic-style marble high altar and reredos by Hansom, with tabernacle by Fr Vaughan and gesso paintings of life of St Aloysius by Percy Bacon set in carved oak panel. Oak altar rail and pew, parquet floor. Sacristy has oak panelled dado and door.


The buildings at Stonyhurst College grew out of a courtyard plan house commenced by Sir Richard Shireburn in 1592, on or close to the site of a medieval house. Work continued under his successors, including Sir Nicholas Shireburn who added classical features and a formal landscape setting after 1690. The Shireburns and their descendants were a notable recusant Lancashire Catholic family. Mary, the daughter of Sir Nicholas married the 8th Duke of Norfolk, inheriting the estate in 1732, but the house was largely unoccupied during the rest of the C18.

In 1794 the Society of Jesus fled from a temporary school in Liège, and came to Stonyhurst at the invitation of Thomas Weld, the Shireburns’ descendant. In 1809, Weld gifted the buildings and estate at Stonyhurst to the Jesuits. In 1803, the Society of Jesus was re-established in England at Stonyhurst under the Provincial Marmaduke Stone, although the Society was not formally recognised by the English Bishops until 1829. In this location, the school continued the lineage of Catholic boys’ education and the training of Jesuit priests for the English Mission established at Saint-Omer (St Omers), France by Father Robert Persons in 1593, following Elizabeth I's Protestant Religious Settlement of 1559. In affiliation to the University of London, from 1840 to 1916, Stonyhurst provided degree-level education for men (known as the Philosophers) at a time when Catholics were excluded from Oxford and Cambridge. As the centre for the Society of Jesus in England a seminary was maintained at St Mary’s Hall (NHLE 1362219) from 1828 to 1926. Stonyhurst has been co-educational since 1988, continuing to expand on the site and to adapt existing buildings. This long history of Catholic education is reflected in an important collection of Catholic and Jesuit artefacts, devotional relics and works of art, many in situ within the college buildings since the C19.

The Jesuits adapted the Shireburn domestic buildings and added new school ranges including Shirk, as well as striving towards self-sufficiency with its own gas plant for lighting and later a corn mill. As Catholic ambition and confidence grew after the Emancipation Act (1829), the Jesuits built (and still own) St Peter’s Church (1833-35), to serve local Catholics as well as the college. The college buildings expanded in the mid-C19 with the completion of the north side of the Front Quadrangle and the Sodality Chapel (1859). Further development in the mid-C19 included an infirmary, new kitchens, the Ambulacrum and extended chemistry laboratories. More ambitious rebuilding culminated in the new South Front and Boys Chapel designed by Dunn & Hansom, 1875-1888. Early C20 development included a gymnasium and physics laboratory and, in the 1960s, an accommodation block known as the New Wing.

This building was previously Listed under an entry on the NHLE which covered the entire complex of school buildings at Stonyhurst (NHLE 1072336).

Reasons for Listing

The South Front, Boys' Chapel and Shirk at Stonyhurst College are all listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural Interest: Shirk is a late-C18 Georgian design, notable for the pedimented south elevation and plan-form. The South Front, including The Boys' Chapel, is an accomplished late-C19 Renaissance revival design by some of the most notable Catholic architects of the C19 and early C20, by Dunn & Hansom with later work by Edmund Kirby;
* Historical Interest: Stonyhurst was the destination for Jesuits fleeing continental persecution in 1794, and played a central role in the growth of the Roman Catholic Church in England throughout the C19 and C20, as the principal school and college for the Society of Jesus in England;
* Group Value: the buildings form part of a strong group with other elements of the complex at Stonyhurst.

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