Founded over four-hundred years ago in rural Lancashire by a Jesuit priest, Stonyhurst College is a treasure trove of historic objects dating back to the Middle Ages. Thanks to generous funding from the TORCH Medieval Studies Programme and Kellogg College, a group of Oxford researchers were able to visit the collections and create research links between Stonyhurst and the University of Oxford.
Gathered by Blackwells in the early hours of June 18th, we waited to embark our mini-bus. Four hours later, we were greeted by Stonyhhurst's Curator, Jan Graffius, and her welcoming team, who gave us a tour of the collections and the new Chapel Museum. Despite this new display opening only months previous in December 2017, the collection is the oldest in the English-speaking world (dating back to 1609), which is reflected in its quality and variety. Whilst this makes listing its highlights a difficult task, an incredibly well-preserved medieval birth girdle and a reliquary containing the right of eye of Edward Oldcorne, an English Jesuit Priest executed in 1606, have since been stuck in my mind. After our group tour, each visitor was introduced to an item which catered to their individual research interests, ranging from sixteenth-century theatrical manuscripts, to medieval liturgical vestments, to an Islamic armillary sphere. After a quick but satisfying dinner at the Shireburn Arms, we began our drowsy trip back to Oxford, brimming with research ideas and hatching plans to return .
We are particularly grateful to Peter Davidson (Campion Hall) for his help in organising the trip and the Stonyhurst team for their hospitality.