Colleges

St Bede’s pastoral system is organised into four Colleges of about 250 students from across all year groups.  Each college then has twelve smaller groups (known as Houses) with about 22 students in each.  Again, these are mixed aged groups with each House having its own House tutor.

Each College is named after one of recusant Lancashire martyrs who died for their faith in the 17th Century.  Their stories are available in more detail on the individual College pages

The purpose of organising pastoral groups this way is primarily to allow improved mentoring and support for students, particularly at key times in the year.  For example, when Year 9 students are choosing their courses key stage 4, the house tutor can give advice to the four or five Year 9 students in the house.  Peer mentoring is also easier as these students can also get advice from the Year 10 and 11 students in their House about their options choices.

All members of a family are placed in the same College so that parents and carers deal with the same Head of College.

Colleges have their own senior prefects and collects for its own charity.  Each College has a weekly assembly.  Colleges also complete against each other in competitions including sports.

Arrowsmith

Head of College: Mrs Bilsborough
Named After: St Edmund Arrowsmith

St Edmund Arrowsmith was one of the Forty Martyrs, and was born at Haydock, Lancashire in 1585. At his baptism he was given the name of Bryan but took the name Edmund at his confirmation. He was the son of Robert and Margery Arrowsmith who both suffered for the Faith. His maternal grandfather, Nicholas Gerard, was a recusant (i.e. someone who refused to accept the authority of the Church of England and attend their worship) and his other grandfather died in prison for his faith. His parents and their household were driven, tied two and two, to Lancaster jail; the four little children, of whom Edmund was one, were left uncared for until neighbours took pity on them. After some years, to help his widowed mother, an old priest took charge of him.

When he was twenty he entered the priest training college for English students at Douai, France.  He was ordained at Arras France in December 1611 and in June 1613 returned to England where he worked as a priest mostly in South Lancashire. In 1624 he became a Jesuit.

In the summer of 1628, he was at the Straits, reportedly putting right a marriage of first cousins. He was betrayed by the son of the landlord of the Blue Anchor Inn (now demolished), opposite Quaker Brook Lane.

He made his escape through the lanes of Brindle; almost certainly across the fields to Arrowsmith House  where he said his last Mass, up Gregson Lane and along Hillhouse Lane, where he hid his vestments, chalice and altar stones in a cottage, and then to Sandy Lane.

When his horse refused to jump a ditch on Brindle Moss, he was captured.

He was taken to the Boar’s Head where 9 shillings of his money was spent on drink. The next day, he was taken to Lancaster Castle to be tried for high treason.

On August 28th 1628, he was taken from the castle, having been given absolution by John Southworth of Samlesbury who was also a prisoner in the castle. He was dragged through the city on a hurdle to the place of his execution on the moor. His last words were: “Bone Jesu” (O good Jesus).

He was hanged, drawn and quartered. Later, a Catholic managed to cut off one of the martyr’s hands, as a relic, and it is now preserved in a silver casket in St. Oswald’s Church, Ashton-in-Makerfield. For more than 200 years the Holy Hand has been the object of veneration and many cures are attributed to the Edmund Arrowsmith

Plessington

Head of College: Mrs Carr
Named after: St John Plessington

St John Plessington was the young son of Robert Plessington of Dimples Hall, near Garstang, Lancashire. His father suffered much for his loyalty to the Catholic Faith during the civil wars.

John was sent to a private school run by the Jesuit priests in Scarisbrick Hall, near Southport and adopted the alias of Scarisbrick upon entering the Royal College of St. Alban at Valladolid, the English Priests training college in Spain, on the 18th of November 1660.  He was ordained a priest while in Spain, and later returned to England.

John Plessington carried out his secret work as a priest mainly in Holywell and around Chester, being housed with the Massey family in Puddington Hall.

There, during the agitation resulting from the discovery of the “Oates Conspiracy” against Parliament, he was accused in Chester of being a priest. Imprisoned for nine weeks, he was then drawn, hung, stripped and quartered near Chester on the 19th of July 1679.

According to a local tradition, his dismembered body was sent to Puddington Hall, to be exhibited in the four corners of the house, but the people of the locality would not permit it. Therefore, they laid them in an oak table in the entrance of the house. Finally, they were buried in the cemetery of Burton.

He was made a saint by the Pope Paul VI on the 25th of October 1970.

Southworth

Head of College: Mr Walsh
Named after:
Father John Southworth

Father John Southworth came from a Lancashire family who lived at Samlesbury Hall. They chose to pay heavy fines rather than give up the Catholic faith.

He studied at the English College in Douai, now in northern France, and was ordained priest before he returned to England. Imprisoned and sentenced to death for professing the Catholic faith, He was imprisoned at Lancaster Castle where is heard the last confession of St Edmund Arrowsmith, but he was released and deported to France. Once more he returned to England and lived in Clerkenwell, London, during a plague epidemic. He assisted and converted the sick in Westminster and was arrested again.

He was tried at the Old Bailey under Elizabethan anti-priest laws. He pleaded guilty to being a priest and was sentenced to death by being  hanged, drawn and quartered. At his execution at Tyburn, he was hanged but spared the drawing and quartering.

The Spanish ambassador returned his corpse to Douai for burial. His corpse was sewn together and preserved. Following the French Revolution, his body was buried in an unmarked grave for its protection. The grave was discovered in 1927 and his remains were returned to England. They are now kept in the Chapel of St George and the English Martyrs in Westminster Cathedral in London.

In 1970, he was canonized by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.  His feast day is 27 June.

Rigby

Head of College: Mrs Donlon 
Named after:
St John Rigby

Saint John Rigby was born about 1570 and was executed in 1600, during the reign of Elizabeth l. He was born at Harrock Hall, near Chorley, Lancashire,

One of the few men who was not a priest be one of the 40 Martyrs, he attended court on behalf of a woman accused of being a Catholic, because she could not represent herself due to ill health. But in the court he was asked about his own beliefs. He had no hesitation in proclaiming that he was a practising Catholic himself. He was sent to prison and enduring the most brutal treatment, including horrendous torture. But John Rigby was incredibly polite to those who tortured him.

On the feast day of St Valentine, he signed a confession saying that since he had re-joined the Roman Catholic faith, he had not attended any Anglican services which was a very serious crime. He was given the numerous chances to reject the Catholic faith, but he always refused.

At some point during his imprisonment, John was lowered on to an open heated oven scorching and burning his flesh. His hair was also cut off by one of the guards. The horrific torture was an attempt to force John Rigby into revealing information about Catholics in England. In an amazing act of defiance that, in itself, seems like an indication of sainthood, John paid the barber for his work and they both laughed.

He was sentenced to death. On his way to execution, the transport carrying him was stopped and Rigby again asked to conform to the Church of England, but he refused. When his time came on for his execution, John said goodbye to fellow Catholic prisoners and asked them to pray for him. Outside, he knelt down and made the Sign of the Cross. He was seen to be laughing, which, when asked why, he said he was happy to give his life for the Catholic cause.

John Rigby was executed by hanging on Saturday, June 21, 1600.

He was made a saint in 1970; his feast day is October 25.