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Mount St Mary’s: A background

Mount St Mary’s: A background supporting image

We take a look at the origins of Mount St Mary’s

In 2017 Mount St Mary’s College in Spinkhill, Derbyshire celebrated its 175th anniversary. The events of the year brought the whole Mount family together - generations of old mountaineers, families, staff past and present and people from the wider community.


The Grand Celebration Week, which kicked off the celebrations, consisted of no less than nine fantastic events in eight jam-packed days. These included sports day at the Mount’s own stadium, a high fashion and high tea for 250 ladies, a children’s theatre day, the annual sports awards ceremony, an unforgettable academy concert and speech day, all rounded off in style with a magnificent ball for 600 guests on the historic and beautiful Jesuit Lawn.


The origins of the College

Mount St Mary’s College opened its doors in the small village of Spinkhill near Sheffield in 1842. However, its origins go back much further, to 1620 in fact. At that time Jesuits were teaching, albeit in secret in an era of Catholic persecution, at Stanley Grange near Derby. With the need for secrecy no more, the Jesuits of the area launched a new school for this new era. The College of Mount St Mary was officially opened by Fr Lythgoe, the Jesuit provincial on 17 September 1842. The school is planning a solemn mass of thanksgiving for 17 September 2017, precisely 175 years on from that famous day.


Parts of the building that now house students at the Mount date back to the 16th and 17th century; the Sodality Chapel is the earliest remaining building. The awe-inspiring Memorial Chapel was built in 1924 to commemorate the old mountaineers who had lost their lives during World War I. The Chapel was designed by Adrian Gilbert-Scott, who took for his inspiration from the Duomo in Florence. Each year the whole school community gather on 11 November in a solemn act of prayer and remembrance to honour the many old mountaineers who served and fell during the Great War. This year’s memorial service will be even more special.


Barlborough Hall

In 1939 the Jesuits decided to open a preparatory school for the Mount at Barlborough Hall. Today, Barlborough Hall is a busy and thriving day school and nursery with 200 girls and boys, aged 3 to 11. The Hall is a stunning Grade I listed country house which was built in 1583-84 for Sir Francis de Rodes. In May 1939 Barlborough Hall welcomed its first pupils, a cohort of 35. Within the year it had been requisitioned by the British Army for use during World War II. The children and staff took up residence at Mount St Mary’s but were reinstated at the prep school after just two terms and in time for the start of the summer term in 1940.


Today’s Mount St Mary’s College

Mount St Mary’s College in 2017 is a vibrant and growing school. Although much has changed in its remarkable history, the Mount preserves and cherishes its Jesuit identity. Care of the individual and the pursuit of excellence are at the heart of everyday life. Whilst the majority of the students at the school are from the local area, travelling daily from Sheffield, Chesterfield, Rotherham, Doncaster, Mansfield and beyond, many using the fleet of school minibuses.


Around 20 per cent of students come from countries around the world. Students come to live alongside the British students from many European countries as well as many from further afield including Mexico, Chile, Fiji, the Middle East, Hong Kong, China and Nigeria to name a few. This creates a diverse, cosmopolitan environment, reflective of the wider world, where students learn to live and work alongside one another, preparing for all that comes next.


Sport has been a long-standing area of strength at the Mount. And whilst rugby and hockey remain strong and successful sports, the Mount has moved with the times and offers a broad range of sporting opportunities in athletics, cricket, swimming, fencing, shooting, pentathlon, biathlon, fitness and much more. The investment in facilities and staff means the Mount offers a sports program that ensures that all students are able to access sport throughout their week, whether as a novice or at the elite level that a notable number achieve.


The reputation for excellence in music is well established. Throughout the year the various choirs, individuals and ensembles create highlights for all to enjoy. Over 75 per cent of students at Barlborough Hall play at least one instrument and more than 40 per cent at the senior school do so. Concerts are performed each term and whilst the showcase Academy Concert tops the bill at the end of May, many other opportunities to perform are offered.


For more information about Mount St Mary’s, head to www.msmcollege.com


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