Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Relations of Beaumont College (Old Windsor, England) with the British Monarchy (1861-1908)

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Relations of Beaumont College (Old Windsor, England) with the British Monarchy (1861-1908)

Article excerpt

Beaumont College, a Jesuit boarding school for boys from well-to-do families, was established in 1861 near Windsor, in the south of England. The college had been permitted to present loyal addresses to Queen Victoria in 1882, 1887, and 1897. Joseph M. Bampton, S.J. (1854-1933), the ninth rector, sought to strengthen the ties between the college and the British monarchy after Edward VII came to the throne in 1901, but met with only qualified success.

Keywords: Bampton, Joseph M., S.J.; Beaumont College; King Edward VII; Queen Victoria; Society of Jesus

The opening of a College of the Society in the neighbourhood of London is the realization of a long felt desire on the part of those of the Catholics of England who wish to give their children the benefit of the education of the Society, without sending them so far to the North as to Stonyhurst. There is every reason to hope for success in the undertaking, as the position is convenient with respect to London, easily accessible, (being within half-an-hour's drive of stations on three railroads,) the situation healthy and elevated, and climate excellent, to say nothing of the beautiful grounds and shrubberies, and magnificent ambulacrum, all of which must be a great attraction to parents.1

St. Stanislaus's College, better known as Beaumont College, opened at Old Windsor (Berkshire, England) in October 1861 as a boarding school for Catholic boys aged seven to fourteen who came from the upper classes. It previously had served as the residence of Warren Hastings (1732-1818), a governor-general of India, and as the novitiate of the English Province of the Society of Jesus for seven years. This foundation on the banks of the Thames near Windsor Castle completed the trio of boarding schools run by the Jesuits on English soil. The two others were Stonyhurst College, established in rural Lancashire in 1794, and Mount St. Mary's College, opened in 1842 at Spinkhill near Sheffield (Derbyshire). The English Province also had been operating St. Francis Xavier's College, a day school for middleclass children in Liverpool, since 1842.

Stonyhurst College represented the long-standing Jesuit tradition in education. It had been founded in exile at Saint-Omer in the Spanish Netherlands in 1593 by Robert Persons, SJ. (1546-1610), to educate young laymen who could not obtain an education in their native country because of the Elizabethan penal laws against Catholics in England and Wales. In 1762 the college, threatened with sequestration,2 moved to Bruges until the general suppression of the Society of Jesus in August 1773, then re-formed in Liège as the Académie anglaise. The advance of the French revolutionary armies in 1794 required a move to England. After the penal laws were eased, the suppressed English Jesuits settled at Stonyhurst, occupying a mansion provided by Thomas Weld (1750-1810) of Lulworth (Dorset), a former scholar of the Bruges period and heir of the Shireburns:3 "Here, and for long after, new generations of Jesuits were recruited, trained and sent out to found schools, parishes and missions all over Victoria's empire."4

A board of studies' conference at Stonyhurst College in early September 1857 recommended the establishment of a new Jesuit college in or near London. The eight meeting attendees, three of them converts from the Oxford Movement, were all Jesuits concerned with education.5 In a report prepared by Peter Gallwey, SJ. (1820-1906), they argued that a well-situated college would avoid the geographical and cultural issues encountered by the two rural boarding schools belonging to the Order: "Some communication with the learned men of the country is quite requisite for those who aim at taking a lead in education. The Metropolis is the resort of the learned: in our present position we are isolated from them."6 The opening of Beaumont College near London in 1861- like the foundation of the Oratory School in Birmingham by a distinguished convert, Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-90), only two years before- must be seen as an effort to accommodate the children of those upper-class new Catholics who had converted from Protestantism at the time of the Oxford Movement and who were "used to sending their sons to Eton and Oxford. …

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