Stonyhurst shown within Lancashire
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Stonyhurst is the name of a 300-acre (1.2 km2) rural estate owned by the Society of Jesus near Clitheroe in Lancashire, England. It is mainly occupied by Stonyhurst College, its preparatory school Stonyhurst Saint Mary's Hall and the parish Church of St Peter's.
The earliest deed for the estate dates back to 1200 A.D. when it was known as the "Stanihurst". It passed through the Bayley family to their descendants, the Sherburnes, before passing into the hands of Thomas Weld of Lulworth. Already possessing a large estate, he donated it to the Jesuits in 1794 as a new home for their school, of which he was an old boy when it was located at Liege. Another branch of the Sherburnes, who had earlier fled to Oxford to build and dwell in Beam Hall, subsequently immigrated to New England, where they contributed to the history of the United States.  These descendants included Henry Sherburne and John Sherburne.
Stonyhurst College and Stonyhurst Saint Mary's Hall are Jesuit boarding schools with approximately 800 pupils in total, some of whom are boarders. The schools are connected by parallel footpaths through the woods, known as Brothers' Walk (so called because, before the schools became co-educational, pupils from the college would take the route to visit their younger brothers at Saint Mary's Hall although the term could originate from when St Mary's Hall operated as a seminary for trainee Jesuits and the brothers walked on this path reciting the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius).
A number of teachers and Jesuit priests work and live on the site. Adjacent to the school buildings are workshops employing masons and craftsmen working on the maintenance and restoration of the buildings. There is a large mill which was once a granary but is currently used as a sawmill.
The Stonyhurst Observatory began operations in 1838, transferring to a new building in 1866. The records of temperature taken there are the oldest continual daily records in the world. Today, the observatory is one of four used by the Met Office to provide temperature data for central England.
The estate contains the two hamlets of Stockbridge and Woodfields, both of which are inhabited by teachers from Stonyhurst College. Hodder Place, the former site of the preparatory school is now divided into residential flats which are privately owned; the grounds remain part of the estate.
Richard Sherburne built an almshouse on Longridge Fell, the predecessor of the Sherburne Almshouse, which his son Sir Nicholas built in circa 1707. The latter was dismantled in 1946 and re-erected in Hurst Green.
Religious monuments in the area are a reminder of the Jesuit presence and strength of Catholicism in the locality. Most notably, the Lady Statue at the top of the Avenue connecting Stonyhurst College with Hurst Green. It was erected in 1882, and inscribed with the legend Ave Maria, "Hail Mary".
Cromwell's rock is also situated a t the top of the Avenue, near the graveyard for St Peter's Church. According to tradition, Cromwell stood on this inconspicuous stone and described the mansion ahead of him as "the finest half-house in England" (the symmetry of the building was, at that time, incomplete).
The Pinfold Cross is a memorial to a former servant at Stonyhurst College and fiddler, James Wells, who fell to his death in a quarry nearby. It was erected in 1834 at Stockbridge. On the front is inscribed the legend, ‘WATCH FOR YOU KNOW NOT THE DAY NOR HOUR.’ Above this is written, ‘OFT EVENINGS GLAD MAKE MORNINGS SAD’. On the left is ‘PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF JAMES WELLS’ and on the right, ‘DIED FEB. 12TH, 1834’.
Saint Paulinus' Cross stands at Kemple End and is a listed monument believed to date from Anglo-Saxon times. It may well mark a spot at which Saint Paulinus of York, who converted King Edwin of Northumbria and founded the See of York, preached.
Cross Gills Farm Cross is thought to have come from a church and has '1910' graffitied onto it. An old wives’ tale records how a farmer replaced the cross when his cattle died after he threw the original into the river.
Stonyhurst Park Cross stands above the River Hodder in the woods close to the former Jesuit novitiate and preparatory school, Hodder Place. A new cross was fixed to the ancient base in 1910, and was blessed on 12 June by the Rev. R. Sykes, SJ, Jesuit provincial; the origin of the earlier monument is unknown.
The estate is a tourist attraction. Many visitors come to view the grade one listed Stonyhurst College which is open for tours during the summer. The gardens of the college are also open to visitors and include a small shop in the meteorological station. The area is also criss-crossed with public footpaths, in particular the Tolkien Trail - a walk around some of the areas thought to have inspired the author during his stay at the college in the late 1940s.
Public events hosted on the estate include the North West Food Festival and Ribble Valley International Piano Week.
Other visitors come to make use of the extensive sports facilities, including a golf course, swimming pool and astro-turf hockey pitch.
- The College
- Places of Interest in The Forest of Bowland Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
- A Stonyhurst Handbook for Visitors and Others, third edition, 1963
- T. E. Muir, Stonyhurst
- Parish details ( Mass times and Websites )
- T. E. Muir, Stonyhurst, pp. 55-61, esp. p.56: Lancashire, the "very Catholic county"
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