The origins of Ampleforth were in the school run by the Benedictine community of St Laurence at Dieulouard in Lorraine.
One of several foundations established on the continent by English Catholics at the end of the sixteenth and start of the seventeenth centuries to continue the religious practices outlawed in England, to provide the education of the missionary priests necessary for the maintenance of a Catholic community within England during penal times and to provide a Catholic education for the sons of the Catholic aristocracy and gentry. In the aftermath of the French Revolution the school was eventually to settle in Yorkshire, and was originally intended only for the education of boys who would enter the religious life. In the course of the 19th century however it was to develop into England’s pre-eminent Catholic public school. For good, or ill, public schools educated most, and continue to educate many, of those occupying key positions within the British Establishment. This study examines the emergence of Ampleforth College as the leading Catholic public school and its part in the integration of Catholics into the British elite. It considers the extent to which a Catholic educational tradition, derived from penal times, had to be adapted in the process of creating a Catholic public school and why it was Ampleforth that emerged from the ranks of Catholic schools to become the ‘Catholic Eton.’ While Ampleforth College is at its centre, the book covers other Catholic educational institutions, providing a fascinating overview of the process of change in Catholic education for the middle and upper classes, the assimilation of educational developments made in English public schools in the nineteenth century, and the issues raised by this for the religious communities running such schools.