St Omers Press, Stonyhurst


2008 Years of Sacred Culture

30 July – 27 September 2008
at St Francis Xavier’s Church, Liverpool L3 8DR

To mark Liverpool’s year as Capital of Culture St Francis Xavier’s Church hosted an exhibition of artefacts from Stonyhurst College, complemented by embroideries and church plate from SFX’s own beautiful collection. The objects were displayed in the nave of this stunning Victorian Grade 2* listed building.

The exhibition was opened on Wednesday 30 July 2008 by His Excellency Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain. This was followed with Glories and Majesty Revealed, a concert by Capella Fede (conductor: Dr Peter Leech) of 17th century church music, featuring the premier of various recently rediscoverd works of the period.

St Omers Press has published the catalogue of the exhibition, edited by Professor Maurice Whitehead. 208 pages, illustrated throughout in colour, it contains six essays by distinguished experts in their fields, as well as notes on all the exhibits by Mrs Jan Graffius, Curator at Stonyhurst. Go to the Publications page for more information.

Dr Peter Leech and Professor Maurice Whitehead

Above: Dr Peter Leech and Professor Maurice Whitehead

Launch party at Stonyhurst

St Omers Press' latest publication, Salve Regina, was succesfully launched by an enthusiastic gathering at Stonyhurst on May 4th 2007, including many current pupils, parents, staff, OS and friends of the College.

Fr John Twist SJ, the College Chaplain, began the evening with a recitation of the Glorious Mysteries in the College Chapel. The Schola Cantorum sang Hail! Blessed Virgin Mary and Salve Regina.  This was followed by drinks in the Long Room.


Salve Regina is a compilation of the Rosary, other traditional prayers and illuminations from the manuscripts in the College’s Arundell Library. The book is the end result of a project begun in 2005 by two pupils, Edward Thomson and Charles Graffius, then in Higher Line, who were doing voluntary work with the College Collections. They produced a power point presentation of the prayers from the Rosary, illustrated by some of the most beautiful images from the College’s medieval Books of Hours.  From that beginning this new book has evolved, fully illustrated in colour. At their request, twenty five percent of the profits from the book will benefit the work of Jesuit Missions among the impoverished Dalit communities in India.


For more details on this title, click here.


Edward Thomson with Jan Graffius, Curator at Stonyhurst and St Omers Press Director, at the launch

A printing office for Stonyhurst

Those OS who remember the College in the '70s and early '80s might recall the Octagon Press: a small little printing office used by Higher Line pupils, set up originally (I think) by Fr Peter Low SJ. Sadly, it seems to have just faded away, though not for lack of enthusiasm from the pupils, who in the best traditions of the "Spanish practices" of the printing trade would sell the press on to each succeeding playroom year.

An opportunity arose to re-establish a printing office with the discovery of an Albion printing press in container storage near Cirencester. The initial appearance of the press was not encouraging: rusting away, in bits, very much unloved, and prompting some well justified caution from the dispassionate observer (right).

We decided to take the plunge, however: the press was acquired and moved into storage in a stable, where it was expertly restored by Nick Sanford, free at the time in a career break between The Wren Press and Smythson's of Bond Street. It was found that the only missing component was a broken main spring, which could be replaced off the shelf.

Above: Rhetoric and Grammar pupils
The Rules of the Sodality
(see Publications) on the
St Omers Press Albion.

The Albion was stripped down, cleaned, painted and reassembled. The job chosen to test the press was Beatrice Warde's famous quotation, "This is a Printing Office...", originally written for a Monotype sample sheet of Centaur type. It tested the whole area of the platen, and the press performed well, with a very even impression over the whole sheet (above).

In setting up the printing office we were very lucky to receive welcome help from Stanbrook Abbey, whose press occupied a central place in the private press movement of the 1930s and 1950s, associated with leading figures such as George Bernard Shaw, Sir Sydney Cockerell, Stanley Morisson, Eric Gill and more recently John Dreyfus. Today the community of Benedictine nuns is preparing to move to Yorkshire, and the printing operation is being slimmed down. St Omers Press was able to acquire a significant amount of Spectrum type and press room equipment from the community at Stanbrook, which forms the basis of the printing office that has now been established at Stonyhurst. It is hoped that this facility can be used by both the Art Department for print making and pupils coming from other areas such as the IT or Design and Technology departments.


The Subscibers' Edition has now sold out, the last copy put aside for presentation to the Father General of the Society of Jesus in Rome; only five copies remain of the Main Edition, and the books which accompany the set of engravings are now available for sale on their own. Go to the Publications page for more information.

Right: the presentation of one of the Subscribers' sets to St Ignatius' College, Riverview, Sydney. Fr Andy Bullen SJ, Rector, is shown with Mrs Jenny Pond, who organised the presentation on behalf of the Tennis Community at the College, in memory of two students, Billy O'Connor and Sam Turner, who died tragically in 2003.

St Ignatius College, Riverview

St Omers Press, Stonyhurst

St Omers Press Ltd has been established to publish works reflecting the life and culture of Stonyhurst College and its Jesuit heritage, specialising in the following areas:

The religious mission of the College and the promotion of its Jesuit ethos;

The collections at Stonyhurst, with a view to contributing to make them more widely accessible and publishing continuing research on them;

The buildings and grounds of the College;

Republication of literary work associated with Stonyhurst, and the promotion of current creative writing among its pupils;

Education and the promotion of Catholic beliefs.

The directors of St Omers Press: Anthony Eyre OS, Christopher Page OS, Jan Graffius (Curator),
Gerry Lagerberg OS and Anthony Verity
St Omers Press Ltd is a company created by the Trustees of Stonyhurst College to undertake publishing projects of this nature. It is intended that profits from the sale of these editions will be donated to the Trustees and/or used to fund further publishing projects. Reg in England no 5358924; registered address: Stonyhurst College, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9PZ.