RepositoryJesuits in Britain Archives
TitleLoyola Hall
DescriptionThis collection includes records relating to the administration, estate, finance, courses and retreats, correspondence, history, special events, photographs and other material concerning Loyola Hall.
Admin_HistoryLoyola Hall is a Grade II listed country house built in the 19th century in Rainhill, Merseyside, England, by Bartholomew Bretherton (c.1775–1857). It is situated on the Warrington Road, next to St Bartholomew's Church. From 1923 to 2014, it was a retreat house run by the Society of Jesus.

Rainhill House (as it was originally called) was built in 1824 by Bartholomew Bretherton. In 1869, Mary Stapleton-Bretherton, his daughter, enlarged the house to over twice its original size, renaming it Rainhill Hall. When Mary died in 1883, the Stapleton-Bretherton family owned all the land that made up the parish of Rainhill. As Mary produced no children, she left the family estate to Frederick Bretherton, the only son of her cousin Bartholomew Bretherton, a former coach proprietor. His granddaughter Evelyn Stapleton-Bretherton married Prince Gebhard Blücher von Wahlstatt (1865–1931), becoming Princess Evelyn Blücher. Her memoirs, Princess Blucher, English Wife in Berlin (Constable, 1920) were translated into French and German and reprinted many times, becoming a minor classic

The Jesuits took possession of the site in 1923. They moved from Oakwood Hall, a retreat centre they had in Romiley, in what was then Cheshire, now Greater Manchester, into Rainhill Hall. The Jesuits named it Loyola Hall after Loyola, the birthplace of their founder Saint Ignatius. The first retreat took place on 23 June 1923. On 12 July that year, the Archbishop of Liverpool Frederick Keating came to attend a day of recollection and blessed the house. When Loyola Hall was initially founded by Fr George Pollen SJ, it more or less only ran 30-day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola and weekend retreats for working men's sodalities and parish groups. Numbers of retreatants continued to rise during the 1920s. In 1923 the total number was 504, in 1924 the total number was over 800, and in 1929 over 2,000 people had come on retreat during the year. In 1933, the director of the house, Fr Edward Rockliff SJ, expanded the grounds of Loyola Hall by purchasing twenty acres of land from the Bretherton estate to the north-west of the site.

After the Second World War, Loyola Hall began hosting RAF Leadership courses, under the direction of Fr Peter Blake SJ who was a chaplain to the British Armed Forces from 1939 to 1960. In the 1960s, individually guided retreats started. A new wing to Loyola Hall was soon built and cost £100,000. It was partially financed by the sale of fifteen acres of land for the construction of Rainhill High School. The new wing contained fifty rooms for residential visitors, a chapel (with stained-glass windows and sculptures by Jonah Jones), and a conference room. Before it was opened, it briefly hosted the North Korea national football team. In the 1966 FIFA World Cup, the North Koreans made the quarter-finals but did not have any accommodation arranged near to Goodison Park where the match was being played. They took over the booking made for the Italy national football team at Loyola Hall. They went on to lose the quarter-final match on 23 July 1966 against Portugal 5-3.

The extension was opened on 14 May 1967 by Archbishop Beck. On 22 January 1970, Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ, the Superior General of the Jesuits, came to Loyola Hall and planted a tree (the original tree died and was replaced with a new one). Between 1970-1977, Loyola Hall became the residence for novices as part of their Jesuit formation. Following this, the novices moved to Harborne in Birmingham. In 1974, the stables, clock tower, coach house, and east lodge of Rainhall Hall were demolished allowing more space for retreatants to walk around the ground. In 1977, this was also helped by the acquisition of 'The Field', a strip of land to the north of the house, which acts as a separating space between the house and the A570 road. In 2000 it underwent a renovation, adding en-suite rooms, and the chapel was refurbished in 2006. In January 2009, it appointed its first non-Jesuit director, Ruth Holgate.

Loyola Hall officially closed at Easter in 2014. Following this, the British Province confirmed that retreats would take place principally through St Beuno’s Spirituality Centre in North Wales. This continues to the present day.
Related MaterialFor archive see:
-Article in Jesuits and Friends no.43 - Changes at Loyola Hall 1999
-Blacklett Letter Books, vol. 19, p.424
-Blacklett Letter Books, vol.3, pp.179-180
-Blackett Letter Books, vol.20, p.120, 231
-Blackett Letter Books, vol.11, p.465
-SX/8 - Procurator's correspondence 1923-1934
-See/request Romily (Oakwood Hall) index card for documentation on negotiations prior to purchasing Loyola Hall 1922-1923
-SJ/148/8 - Documents relating to Loyola Hall
-SJ/8/2/1 - 19th C annotation Retreat notes
-SE/1/2 - Correspondence with Fr Pollen, Archbishop of Liverpool, Fr Bodkin; General in Rome concerning purchase of Loyola Hall 1922-1923
- 55/3/7/5 - Plans of Loyola Hall

For audio-visual see:
-100/959/3 Cassette tape. Rainhill: Consecration of Retreat House
-SJ/148/8 Cassette tape. Slide A: Fr Peter Blake SJ speaking on the North Korean Football Team visit to Loyola Hall, 1966. Slide B: Fr Peter Blake SK speaking about Loyola Hall (slide A has been digitised)
Glass negative
Printed document
AccessConditionsThe papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to archive material in the Jesuits in Britain Archives.

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