Liverpool Hope Special Collections

The Lois Louden Collection: a significant Education Resource new to Special Collections


Special Collections has been fortunate to receive a significant collection of education research material donated by the Culham St. Gabriel’s Trust. The collection belonged to Dr. Lois Louden, a prominent figure in Education and Church Schools in the North West. The Culham St. Gabriel Trust also provided funding to enable the appointment of an Archivist, Sean Macmillan, to catalogue the books and document the papers. I am delighted to announce that this project is now complete and here follows a taster of Sean’s findings. 


Dr. Lois Mary Robertson Louden (1938-2015) was a historian of education, education advisor, lecturer, author, guide, and general educationist who specialised in studying the relationship between the Church and Schools, with particular emphasis on the National Society and Methodism. Her academic studies and career spanned from 1956 to 2015. Louden was also an active member of the Lancaster Methodist Church and volunteered for many organisations, including the NHS Ambulance Services Trust. Louden was largely active in the Lancaster and Blackburn area, and took a special interest in the history and development of the schools and education authorities in that area.


In 1970 Louden embarked upon a PhD in Comparative Education at the University of North Carolina in the United States of America. Louden completed her PhD in 1974 and lectured in the History and Philosophy of Education at Nottingham College of Education. From 1975 to 1990 Louden was the Principal Lecturer in Education at St Martin’s College of Higher Education, Lancaster. St Martin’s was founded by the Church of England in the early 1960s as a teacher training college. By the 1990s, it had become a wide-ranging and ever-growing College of Higher Education, becoming a University College, and eventually merging with the HE College in Carlisle to form the University of Cumbria.

Louden was an Honorary Advisor for the Blackburn Diocesan Board of Education, and was responsible for everything from School Admissions to Instruments of Government. Rev. John Hall, the current Dean of Westminster and Chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II, notes that Lois Louden was a member of the advisory team when he was the Diocesan Director of Education for Blackburn, between 1992 and 1998. The Blackburn Diocesan Board of Education supported the 192 Church of England schools in the diocese, some of which were joint schools with the Methodist Church (North Lancashire District).

Lois was always friendly, brisk and business-like, very practical and sensible, a single woman, academically a Mathematician. She was an enormous encouragement to me in my early times in Blackburn. Her active commitment to other aspects of life embraced the Methodist Church, where she chaired the national Day School committee, I believe for many years, and the Girl Guide movement, where she was also influential at national level.” Rev. John Hall, Dean of the Church of England.

Louden was also a member of the Governing Body of Emslie Girls’ School, and was the Vice Chair at Ripley St Thomas Church of England High School. Louden worked actively with Youth, and was involved with the Girl Guides movement from 1975 to 2000 as a District Commissioner, Trainer, Trainer of Trainers, Adviser, and Member of Council in addition to several other roles. Personally, Lois Louden enjoyed walking holidays and travelling with friends. Louden rode a motorbike in her earlier days and was a very talented cricket bowler. Sadly, we have been unable to find a photograph of her.

“Lois was a pleasure to work with. She was a consummate professional, unflappable and always delivered what she said she would do by when she said she would do it. Her historical knowledge of the Church school sector was second to none and her research skills were A1. But most of all she was everything one could expect and hope for from a Girl Guide exemplar. She will be greatly missed.” Rev. John Gay.

main achievements

In addition to teaching, educating, and researching, Lois Louden also wrote regularly on issues pertaining to Church Schools and Education. In 1992, Lois Louden and David Urwin wrote the loose-leaf pamphlet Mission Management Appraisal: A Guide for Schools of the Church of England and the Church in Wales, published by the National Society (Church of England) and was often described as a ‘package’. The package was written for Governors and Teachers of Church of England and Church in Wales Schools. The resource was published at a time when the reforms occurring within Church Schools had created uncertainty and concern regarding schools being able to maintain their Christian vision and identity. The package was split into three parts; (1) Mission Statements, (2) Priorities and Quality, (3) Appraisal. It was considered to have been very influential.

Louden and Urwin would go on to work together again, publishing Church School Inspection: A Guide for Schools of the Church of England and the Church in Wales, in 1993, and Church School Staffing: A Guide to Recruitment, Selection and Induction of Staff in Schools of the Church of England and the Church in Wales, in 1995. In 2003 Louden wrote an article titled, The Conscious Clause in Religious Education and Collective Worship: Conscious Objection or Curriculum Choice (copies of this article can be found in LLP/1/8 of the Lois Louden Archive). The article considered the grounds on which parents were able to withdraw children from religious education or collective worship. In 2011, Lois Louden wrote a book titled Distinctive and Inclusive: The National Society and Church of England Schools 1811-2011, to mark the 200th anniversary of the National Society. Louden’s book provided an account of some of the major changes that took place in education and Church administration which affected schools. Louden wrote the book hoping it would inspire people, especially children, to find out more about their own school’s history.

the collection

The Lois Louden Collection consists of two halves; monographs and archival papers. There are over 800 monographs belonging to Lois Louden, now generously donated to Liverpool Hope University by the Culham St. Gabriel Trust. These monographs include a variety of books, pamphlets, and reports, some dating back to the 19th century. The collection also covers a wide variety of topics including the general history of education, schools, and the Methodist Church. There are specific texts concerning Church Schools, public education, missionary movements, education as a value to society, education and law, women in education, and biographies and autobiographies of individual educators. Among the most rare and possibly most valuable materials in the collection are the six School Government Chronicles, which date from as early as 1885 and were an index or ‘gazette’ of issues in education at the time of their publication. They contain announcements and short articles regarding changes to school programs and structures. Louden also owned a series of Wesley Historical Society North Lancashire Branch Bulletins containing a selection of prayers and society notes.

Another valuable set of resources are Louden’s collection of The National Society Annual Reports (see image opposite). The National Society was established in 1811 to provide Education and Church Schools in every Parish, especially for poor children. The National Society is closely aligned with the Church of England. The reports Louden collected run almost consistently, except for a few years, from 1920 to 1989 and contain a plethora of interesting and useful content regarding the National Society. For example, the 1969 report noted below contains information about Church Schools in 1969 in relation to issues they faced, new courses offered at that time, changes in their structure, and yearly accounts.

The second half of the collection contains over eight linear metres of archival material, catalogued as the Lois Louden Papers, ‘LLP’ in the accession code. Identifying a natural order to the collection, in addition to identifying what many of the papers were about, was not easy. Sadly, since her death, many of Lois Louden’s papers had become much disorganised and some were lost during a house move in 2015. Moreover, Louden was a good advocate for recycling in that she often printed new content on the other side of already used paper, which meant that some items were particularly difficult to identify. Three rough sub-categories can be identified; research, work-related materials, and personal materials. A significant aspect of Louden’s personal papers is related to her research of education and church schools. This includes research organised by location and school, such as materials she collected relating to St Martin’s College, research organised by event, such as the 1902 Education Acts, and research organised by topic and type of school. Additionally, there are materials relating specifically to the Church of England and the National Society.

The collection also contains materials which largely relate to Louden’s working and professional interests, such as her work with Methodist Schools and Lancaster City Council. The final part of the collection contains more personal items, such as membership paraphernalia and old receipts for book purchases. The sheer number of books she actively bought personally is indicative of her devotion and love for school education.

special thanks

Special thanks must be extended to the Culham St. Gabriel Trust for donating the collection in addition to the funding for cataloguing and preservation work. Moreover, special thanks to Rev. John Hall, Rev. John Gay, and Brian Gates for providing invaluable information about Lois that proved very useful in interpreting and cataloguing her papers.

Sean Macmillan

For more biographical info on Lois Louden or to download the archival listing, please visit the Special Collections webpages.