History

Allen Hall has had a long and varied history since the foundation of its predecessor in Douai in 1568.

Douai (1568)

Cardinal William Allen founded a seminary in Douai, France, in 1568 to provide for the English mission in time of persecution. Allen Hall, together with Ushaw College in the North, is heir to that Douai tradition, and is inspired by its history and above all by its martyrs.

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Old Hall Green (1793)

The French Revolution brought an end to the presence of the seminary at Douai. With a relaxation of the penal laws against Catholics in England, the staff and students moved to Old Hall Green, Ware, Hertfordshire. The new college was established in 1793 under the patronage of Saint Edmund.

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Chelsea (1975)

In 1975 the seminary moved to Chelsea, so the students could be more involved in pastoral work in London and close to the universities and Westminster Cathedral. The name of the seminarians wing at St Edmund’s, Allen Hall, was adopted for the college. The house had been the convent of a French order of sisters, the Congregation of Adoration Réparatrice.

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Cardinal William Allen

Having left England during the Reformation, William Allen conceived the idea of a college for English students on the Continent and in 1568 opened the first of these institutions at Douai, Flanders.

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Martyrs of Douai

Between 1577, the date of the martyrdom of St Cuthbert Mayne, the college’s protomartyr, and 1680, the date of the execution of Thomas Thwing, the college’s last martyr, one hundred and fifty eight college members, priests and laymen, secular and religious, met with a martyr’s death.

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Saint Thomas More

Allen Hall’s current site stands in the grounds of what was once “The Great House” of St Thomas More, which he built in Chelsea in 1524 and where he lived with his family until his arrest in 1534.

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