The Stonyhurst Collections & The Old Chapel Museum

Stonyhurst College has collected remarkable artifacts and books from its earliest days at St Omers, offering sanctuary to sacred medieval objects at risk of destruction during the Reformation. The first items arrived at the College in 1609; sumptuous 15th century cloth of gold and red silk damask velvet vestments, ordered by Henry VII for use in Westminster Abbey and taken by Henry VIII to the Field of Cloth of Gold. From the date of the acquisition, we make our claim to be the oldest museum in the English-speaking world.

Throughout the festival there will be the opportunity for visitors to see the College’s vast array of Historic Collections, reflecting the fact that the College has long been a global community.

Tickets to the talks throughout the Stonyhurst Literature & Film Festival include entry to the College’s 425 Exhibition, celebrating this momentous anniversary for the College and exploring Stonyhurst’s history through to the modern age – told through its Collections. Alternatively, pre-book a visit to the Old Chapel Museum and delve deeper into the College’s magnificent history.

  • Entry is £5.00 per person. Tickets for both Friday and Saturday are available to buy on our website.
  • There are allocated times for entry throughout the day. Museum Tickets can be booked on the hour, between 10.00am and 4.00pm.
  • Maximum capacity in the museum at any time is 70 persons.
  • Unfortunately, due to capacity in the museum, access is limited and must be pre-booked via the booking system.
  • In the event that tickets to the museum are not sold out in advance of the Festival, tickets may be purchased on the day, but availability cannot be guaranteed.

Please note that due to the nature of a Grade I listed building, no disabled access is provided and access to the museum incorporates different levels using stairs. Limited-seating is available in the museum. 


“Every item in the Collections and Historic Libraries tells a story; to teach, to intrigue, and to provoke searching questions about our past and the present world we inhabit.” (Jan Graffius, Curator)

The Old Chapel Museum & Libraries

The Stonyhurst Collections include a museum, three Historic Libraries and a rich study collection. These are housed together in a prominent part of the remarkable buildings at Stonyhurst, overlooking the 16th century Front Quad and the formal Avenue, although many artifacts are on open display around the College. The Museum and Historic Libraries are housed in a Victorian wing of the College, built in the 1850s to complete the grand frontage at Stonyhurst which had been left unfinished by the Shireburn family in the 17th century.

Many of the objects in the Collections bear witness to its unique place in English Catholic history, while others show how pupils and staff have made their mark on the world as scientists, travelers, archaeologists, antiquarians, soldiers, civil servants and missionaries all over the globe.

Notable painting by artists such as Turner, Lely, Rembrandt and Rubens were bought for, or donated to, the College to embellish the walls and to inspire with their beauty. Stunning 17th century Flemish baroque church silver, available to view in the Museum, continues to be used in our liturgies on feast days.

Former pupils and their families have bequeathed treasured possessions to benefit subsequent generations. Every item in the Collections and Historic Libraries tells a story; to teach, to intrigue, and to provoke searching questions about our past and the present world we inhabit.