The Journal of Ecclesiastical History

The Rise and Fall of the Catholic University College, Kensington, 1868–1882

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Cardinal Manning's Catholic University project was a spectacular failure. Financial mismanagement by Thomas John Capel, the Rector, as well as gossip surrounding his personal life, undermined confidence in him and the college. The Jesuits opposed the scheme as it rivalled their own plans. Despite a Vatican ban, the Jesuits, some influential converts, old Catholic families and sympathetic bishops continued to press for Catholic higher education at Oxford, for social reasons and because they preferred the classical education to Manning's scientific syllabus. The project revealed the tensions and divisions caused by Manning's vision of future Catholic engagement in late Victorian society.