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Life at Stonyhurst College (In Waterton's Day)
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Stonyhurst Maps
Stonyhurst and the Tortoise.

Find out more about the college at:
Stonyhurst College (official website).
Stonyhurst Crest

Stonyhurst - Introduction

Stonyhurst was founded in 1593 at St Omer in what is now northern France, it was established to provide a Catholic education for English families unable to educate their children in their Faith at home following the Reformation. In 1762 the College moved to Bruges and in 1773 to Liege. In the aftermath of the French Revolution the Jesuits moved in 1794 to the Stonyhurst estate given to them by a former St Omer pupil - Thomas Weld of Lulworth Castle in Dorset.

Charles Waterton at Stonyhurst

Charles Waterton was one of the first pupils of the Jesuits at their new home in England. Unlike the rod wielding regime at Tudhoe, the Jesuits adopted an entirely different approach towards the adventurous Master Waterton.

"The Jesuits have always been celebrated for the astuteness with which they discover and cultivate the bent of young minds. Waterton profited in no small degree by the wisdom of the Order. His instructors encouraged as far as possible his love for Natural History. At the same time, they gave him a taste for literature. Thus his time passed gaily at Stonyhurst, and during the six years he stayed there, he laid up a store of knowledge, and went through a training which did much to make his whole life pleasant."

At Stonyhurst, his master was Father Clifford, a first cousin of Lord Clifford (a name featuring prominently in the Battle of Wakefield). Father Clifford was sure that Waterton would become an adventurer, travelling to many distant lands where he would encounter danger. His words of advice to the young Charles were: " Promise me that, from this day forward, you will never put your lips to wine, or to spiritous liquors. The sacrifice is nothing, but, in the end, it will prove of incalculable advantage to you." Waterton agreed and "never swallowed one glass of any kind of wine or of ardent spirits." (3)

At Stonyhurst his sense of adventure often led him to break the rules. Once whilst eluding a pursuing prefect he hid in a pig sty. The sty was tended by an old friend from Tudhoe days, Joe Bowren - Waterton had given him a "very fine terrier" as a gift. Meanwhile, back in the pig sty, Jim Bowren had hidden Waterton under some litter, without saying a word. When the prefect arrived on the scene he gasped out to Bowren: "Have you seen Charles Waterton?" To which Joe replied, "Sir, I have not spoken a word to Charles Waterton these three days, to the best of my knowledge." The prefect, no longer hot on the trail, went on his way. Charles emerged from beneath the pile of pig's litter "strongly perfumed".

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The Ratcatcher
The Jesuits realised that they needed to manage and harness Waterton's great love of natural history and his propensity to go adventuring, in a way that meant he could do those things, receive an education and yet abide by the rules. The solution was to make him "ratcatcher to the establishment, and also fox-taker, foumart-killer, and crossbow-charger at the time when the young rooks were fledged. Moreover, I fulfilled the duties of organ-blower and football-maker with entire satisfaction to the public."(3)

Charles Waterton had a great dislike for "prog" the Hanoverian rat, which he always associated with the House of Hanover. He was of the opinion that the brown, also called the Norwegian or grey rat, came across after the arrival of the Hanoverian dynasty. "According to local tradition", the rats came across in the very same ship that carried the new dynasty. (3)

Waterton was sad to leave Stonyhurst at the end of his studies to return home to Walton. "The day I left the Jesuits' college was one of heartfelt sorrow to me. Under Almighty God and my parents, I owe everything to the Fathers of the Order of St Ignatius. Their attention to my welfare was unceasing, whilst their solicitutude for my advancement in virtue and in literature seemed to know no bounds. The permission which they granted me to work in my favourite vocation, when it did not interfere with the important duties of education, enabled me to commence a career which, in after times, afforded me a wealth of pleasure in the far distant regions of Brazil and Guiana. To the latest hour of my life I shall acknowledge, with feelings of sincerest gratitude, the many acts of paternal kindness which I so often received at the hands of the learned and generous Fathers of Stonyhurst College.

After leaving this 'safe retreat of health and peace', I journeyed homewards to join my father; and I spent a year with him."

Thomas Waterton had been a noted huntsman in his day. He introduced Charles to Lord Darlington, a man greatly admired for "his elegant seat on horseback and cool intrepidity in charging fences" (3).

Charles loved fox-hunting and became one of the most celebrated horsemen in Yorkshire. Keeping to his promise made at Stonyhurst, he declined invitations to take a glass of wine or spirit, and rode home directly after the hunt was over. In time, travelling took the place of fox-hunting. However, his father thought that it was time for the young man of 20 years to see a bit of the world. The first journey would be to Spain to see two of his maternal uncles who had settled there.

Click to enlarge & for more maps
Click to enlarge & for more maps

In subsequent centuries following its establishment at Stonyhurst, the Jesuits added to the College on a grand scale so that today it is one of the largest buildings under one roof in Europe and is Grade1* listed by English Heritage for its architecture and setting.

Since its foundation, there have been many fine achievements and distinguished former pupils. Visit Stonyhurst at http://www.stonyhurst.ac.uk

Click image to enlarge.
Tortoise is set for pastures new

More about the fox.
Click here for more about the fox

Fox-hunting was Waterton's delight .... 'he was the best rider in the hunt next to Lord Darlington'. (3)


The foumart or polecat. (3)

Click to enlarge.
A fine engraving of Stonyhurst
published in the
Illustrated London News, 1871
Click to enlarge.
Stonyhurst circa 1913.
[old postcard]
Click to enlarge.
Stonyhurst in the 1930s.
[postcard posted in the 1930s]
 
Click to enlarge.
Stonyhurst, 2005
Click to enlarge.
Towards Hurst Green from Stonyhurst College.
Click to enlarge.
Stonyhurst College 2005
Click to enlarge.
The peaceful setting of Stonyhurst College, 2005.

Notes
1."Some Account of the Writer of the Following Essays", by himself. Charles Waterton writing in the First Series of his Essays on Natural History, Chiefly Ornithology, Longman, Brown, Longmans, & Roberts, London, 1857.
2."Wanderings in South America", Charles Waterton, ed. Rev. JG Wood, Macmillan & Co., London, 1880.
3. "Essays on Natural History", Charles Waterton, edited, with a Life of the Author by Norman Moore, London, Frederick Warne & Co., 1871


Books about Walton, Charles Waterton, Guyana, and more!
See a selection of
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Charles Waterton,
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• click here •
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Life at Stonyhurst College
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