|Loyola Hall Jesuit Spirituality Centre|
|OS grid reference||SJ5012490608|
|Founded||April 27, 1923|
|Founder(s)||Fr George Pollen SJ|
Extended in 1967
|Functional status||Retreat Centre|
|Heritage designation||Grade II|
|Designated||28 January 1971|
|Parish||St Bartholomew, Rainhill|
|Deanery||St Helen's South|
|Business manager||Ruth Holgate|
Bartholomew Bretherton started a business in coaches in 1800 in Liverpool. On journeys to Manchester or London, Rainhill was the first stop where horses were changed. In 1807 he came to live in the village.
In 1824 he built Rainhill House. In 1869, Mary Stapleton-Bretherton, his daughter, enlarged the house to over twice its original size, renaming it Rainhill Hall. When Mary died in 1883, the Stapleton-Bretherton family owned all the land that made up the parish of Rainhill.
As Mary was childless, she left the family estate to her the children of her cousin, Bartholomew Bretherton, a jockey who rode the winner of the Grand National in 1840. His granddaughter, Evelyn Stapleton-Bretherton married Prince Gebhard Blücher von Wahlstatt (1865–1931), becoming Princess Evelyn Blücher. Her memoirs, Princess Blucher, English Wife in Berlin (Constable, 1920) were translated into French and German and reprinted many times, becoming a minor classic.
However, his grandson Frederick, Evelyn's brother, had no direct heir, so Frederick decided to sell the bulk of the family's Rainhill estates. The house and five acres of surrounding land were sold to the Society of Jesus and renamed Loyola Hall.
The Jesuits took possession of the site in 1923. They moved from Oakwood Hall, a retreat centre they had in Romiley, in what was then Cheshire now Greater Manchester, into Rainhill Hall. The Jesuits named it Loyola Hall after Loyola in the Basque Country of Spain, the birthplace of their founder Saint Ignatius, where a religious complex now houses a very large retreat centre, shrine and basilica.
The first retreat took place on 23rd June 1923, it was for promoters of Ignatian spirituality. On 12th July that year, the Archbishop of Liverpool Frederick Keating came to attend a day of recollection for the clergy of the Archdiocese of Liverpool and blessed the house.
Numbers of retreatants continued to rise during the 1920's. In 1923 the total number was 504, in 1924, the total number was over 800 and in 1929, over 2,000 people had come on retreat during the year.
In 1933, the director of the house, Fr. Edward Rockliff SJ, expanded the grounds of Loyola Hall by purchasing twenty acres of land from the Bretherton estate to the north-west of the site.
When Loyola Hall was initially founded by Fr. George Pollen SJ, it more or less only ran 30 day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola and weekend retreats for working mens' sodalities and parish groups. There was a move away from this trend from the 1940's to the present day.
After the Second World War, Loyola Hall began hosting RAF Leadership courses, under the direction of Fr Peter Blake SJ who was a chaplain to the British Armed Forces from 1939 to 1960 before taking over as superior of Loyola Hall. It was during his time at Loyola Hall that the centre experienced a surge in people and groups asking for residential retreats. In the 1960's, individually guided retreats started. Instead of a spiritual director leading the retreat by giving daily lectures, individually guided retreats would have each person meeting their spiritual director individually every day, helping them with their discernment.
A new wing to Loyola Hall was soon built and cost £100,000. It was partially financed by the sale of fifteen acres of land for the construction of Rainhill High School. The new wing contained fifty rooms for residential visitors, a chapel and conference room and was opened on 14th May 1967 by Archbishop Beck. For over a year after its construction it was almost continuously occupied. The conference room was renamed the Blake room, after the Jesuit superior who went on to leave Loyola Hall in 1970.
On 22 January 1970, Fr. Pedro Arrupe SJ, the Superior General of the Jesuits came to Loyola Hall and planted a tree, which still stands in the front gardens of the house. In 1974, the stables, clock tower, coach house and east lodge of Rainhall Hall were demolished allowing more space for retreatants to walk around the ground. In 1977, this was also helped by the acquisition of 'The Field', a strip of land to the north of the house, which acts as a separating space between the house and the A570 road reducing the amount of noise that can be heard from the passing cars.
In 2000, it under went a renovation, adding en-suite rooms and the chapel was refurbished in 2006. Although the retreat centre is run by the Society of Jesus it is staffed by a diverse team of Jesuits, lay people and members of other Catholic religious orders. In January 2009, it appointed its first non-Jesuit director, Ruth Holgate. Loyola Hall still continues to offer weekend, 8 day and 30 day courses in Jesuit spirituality. For over 25 years, it has been offering training programmes for people to be able to direct courses in Ignatian spirituality and still accommodates conferences and large-scale meetings.
- British Listed Buildings
- Archdiocese of Liverpool Pastoral Areas
- Dyckhoff SJ, Christopher (1994). A Quiet Place: A History of Loyola Hall St. Helens, pp. 5-35.
- St Helens Star Rainhill History
- Evelyn, Princess Blücher (1921). An English Wife in Berlin. London: Constable. p. VIII.
- Rainhill Parish Village History
- "Province News". Letters and Notices 37: 241. April 1923.
- "Province News". Letters and Notices 73 (345). March 1968.
- Catholic Herald August 1970
- Loyola Hall Gallery of Grounds
- The Newsletter of the British Province of the Society of Jesus, February 2009