Rare chance to see Stonyhurst's historic collection

Book of Hours

Book of Hours

Where can you see a hat that belonged to St Thomas More, a lock of Mary Queen of Scots' hair and Arthur Conan Doyle’s school desk, all under one roof this  summer?

Well the answer of course is Stonyhurst College, which is once again  opening its doors to the general public for guided tours during August.

Originally a 16th century manor house, it is home to the famous  Catholic Independent boarding and day school, near Clitheroe,  Lancashire.

Visitors to this historic building can see many treasures held in the  Stonyhurst Collections, some of which have not been on display for many  years.

On show will be an exquisitely beautiful prayer book, thought to have  belonged to Mary Queen of Scots, which she is believed to have taken to  her execution.

Other items on display this summer include: a lavishly illustrated ‘Book of Hours’ - an illuminated manuscript made  in Paris in 1430, a 15th century Italian Liber Festivalis which is a  book of religious feasts, a 16th century illuminated Koran, a 17th  century Persian astronomical calendar, vestments from the 15th to the  18th century, a Egyptian mummy, African, Indian and  South American clothing, pottery and ornaments, many natural history  specimens including eggs, butterflies and birds.

The Egyptian mummy has recently returned to Stonyhurst from Manchester  Museum, where it has undergone forensic tests to discover more about  it.

Many of the items were displayed last year at the exhibition ‘Held in  Trust’ at Saint Francis Xavier's Church, Liverpool.

Stonyhurst also provided inspiration for two of the world’s most  celebrated writers. JR Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings,  wrote part of his epic trilogy during his stay at the College and Sir  Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the Sherlock Homes detective stories,
was a pupil between 1868-1875.

During the tour of Stonyhurst visitors can see the desk on which Sir  Arthur Conan Doyle carved his name, the table on which Oliver Cromwell  slept before the Battle of Preston and Jacobite pistols found hidden in  a priest hole. Visitors will also see how present day pupils live, work  and play, and have the opportunity to see the chapels and historic  rooms including the Great Hall with portraits of the seven former  pupils awarded the Victoria Cross

“Visitors are in for a real treat this year; it will be a rare  opportunity to see artefacts that are both sacred and secular,” said  Katherine Walker, Marketing Director at Stonyhurst College.

“Stonyhurst is a Grade I Listed building and renowned for its  magnificent towers and gardens. It is regarded as the ‘Jewel in the  Crown’ of Lancashire’s beautiful Ribble Valley, so well worth a visit.”

The college is open every day 1-4.30pm inc. Bank Holiday Monday (closed  Fridays) from 27 July 2009 until 31 August 2009. Admission charges apply - House & Garden £6, Child (4 -14) £5 (Under 4 free), senior citizens £5.50. Gardens only £1.

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