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Stonyhurst College, Church of St Peter (RC)

A Grade I Listed Building in Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.8461 / 53°50'45"N

Longitude: -2.4723 / 2°28'20"W

OS Eastings: 369021

OS Northings: 438977

OS Grid: SD690389

Mapcode National: GBR CR5Z.K0

Mapcode Global: WH96G.ZLVC

Plus Code: 9C5VRGWH+C3

Entry Name: Stonyhurst College, Church of St Peter (RC)

Listing Date: 14 January 2015

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1419718

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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Hurst Green


RC Church, 1832-35, by J.J.Scoles and others.


CHURCH OF ST PETER, Roman Catholic college chapel, 1832-35, for the Society of Jesus by J.J.Scoles, later C19 internal alterations by Edmund Kirby and others.

MATERIALS: sandstone ashlar, with deep moulded plinth, pilasters, string courses and parapets, octagonal turrets and pinnacles; Welsh slate roof to church, lead to sacristies and Silence Gallery.
PLAN: 7-bays, NAVE and SANCTUARY under one roof, lean-to AISLES, clerestory and WEST GALLERY, SACRISTIES beyond east end. SILENCE GALLERY leads to Shirk (qv). Sanctuary flanked by SIDE CHAPELS, aligned to the north. Perpendicular style.

EXTERIOR: The west front has double panelled doors in Tudor-arched surround, 5-light perpendicular-style window above, moulded coped gable with cross finial, flanked by octagonal stair turrets with traceried cupolas and crocketed ogee roofs. West doorways to aisles have smaller Tudor-arched doorways, and lancets over. Nave clerestory has 2-light segmental-headed windows between pilaster buttresses carried up as crocketed pinnacles above roof parapet. Aisles have moulded plinths and string courses, 3-light Tudor-arched windows and gableted stepped buttresses. Side chapels to north and south of the east end have gabled transepts with 4-light windows, angle buttresses, Tudor-arched doorway to left of north chapel. East end is similar to west with large 5-light window, but no doorways. Single-storey sacristy range against east end has 3-light windows between stepped buttresses: 7-bay east elevation and 3-bay south elevation, low-pitched roofs behind parapets. Silence Gallery connects sacristies to Shirk. All windows have perpendicular-style tracery and hoodmoulds.

INTERIORS: painted plaster with ashlar plinth, some polychrome decoration. Sanctuary and nave in one volume. 7-bay nave arcade on clustered columns with four-centred arches. Stencilled and frescoed decoration to sanctuary by Frederick Settle Barff of Preston, 1853-4. Additional decoration by Goodhart-Rendel, 1950s, clerestorey angels painted by D.Marion Grant, 1954-5. Aisle floors are stone with timber boards below pews. Ceilings have braced beams on corbels, ribbed panels with polychrome decoration. Sanctuary has gothic oak panelling and gothic stone niches with saints to east wall, 1850s. Gothic marble high altar and reredos by Edmund Kirby, 1893, made by Norbury & Company of Liverpool. Side chapels have traceried and gilded parclose screens, the south chapel altar to St Peter relocated here in 1924 from Clayton Hall. Frescoes of St Francis Xavier and St Ignatius Loyola on side chapel east walls by Wurms and Fischer, 1854, for Barff of Preston. West gallery on plain cast-iron columns, with panelled coved and painted front by Goodhart-Rendel. Limed oak organ case by Adrian Gilbert Scott, 1929, the 1927 Willis organ rebuilt by Corkhill of Wigan, 1991. Below the gallery, arched doorways to narthex, confessionals and stone staircase. Good quality fittings include Lady Altar in south aisle, 1898, from Lumsden family chapel in Wardhouse, Aberdeenshire. C19 statues by Mayer of Munich, bronze relief stations of the cross by Stella Schmolle, 1952, oak pews with poppy heads, octagonal stone font early C19. Fine collection of stained glass, including east window attributed to J.H.Miller, 1835, west aisle windows by Hardman, 1891, chapel transept windows by Willement, 1849, other aisle windows by Willement, 1844, by Worrall, by Hardman (designed by Pugin) and by Capronnier, 1859-76. Clerestory glass by Lowndes and Drury, 1955.

SACRISTIES and SILENCE GALLERY have plastered walls, stone floors, cambered ribbed ceilings with moulded beans on stone corbels. Stained glass by Hardman, 1855, and by Casolani. Good collection of wall memorials to Jesuit priests and school pupils, dating from early C19 and later, including brasses by Hardman and marble memorial to Walter Strickland, d.1867 by Buckler.


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 RC Church of St Peter, erected in 1832-35, by J.J.Scoles for the Society of Jesus, is listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural Interest: the building is a very fine example of a Roman Catholic church, designed in Perpendicular style by J.J.Scoles, a prominent Catholic architect, with excellent fittings by notable designers such as Hardman, Pugin, Fischer, Wurms and 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. The Church was built within five years of the 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act;
* Group Value: the Church forms part of a strong group with other elements of the complex at Stonyhurst.

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