RepositoryJesuits in Britain Archives
TitleFr John Luck SJ (1867-1950)
LevelSub fonds
DescriptionThis collection is for the most part comprised of correspondence but also includes war medals received for service as a Chaplain during WW1 and other documents collected either by Luck or family members.
Admin_HistoryJohn Luck was born 9 January 1867 in Aldershot to Richard, a boot maker, and Ellen Luck. He had one older sister, Eliza, known as Lizzie, and four younger sisters: Lucy, Margaret, referred to as Maggie or Peggy, Emma and Mary, known as May. His youngest sister, Alice, died shortly before her second birthday. Luck's mother, Ellen, was Irish and for a time his parents, Maggie, Lucy and Emma lived in Dublin. Lucy married Henry Tappenden in 1897 and had three children: Helen, Mildred and Guy. Throughout his life Luck kept up correspondence with his sisters and parents, and latterly his niece.

Luck entered the Society at Manresa, 7 September 1888. His large build made him well qualified to take on the job of Master of Outdoor Works as a novice, and he continued in this role unofficially at St Mary's Hall, Stonyhurst. He had a keen interest in art and archaeology and at Stonyhurst excavated two mounds in the Winkley Hall estate of Mr William Simpson, believing them to be sepulchral barrows. He describes his excavations in letters to his family. He also had two articles published in the Stonyhurst Magazine for 1894-95 on the matter and wrote a paper for the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society. Luck constructed a model of the smaller barrow as excavated and placed it in the college museum.

Passing from the Seminary to the College, he spent four years (1895-99) as assistant prefect of the secular philosophers. There he took an interest in the study of the numerous stone crosses in the surrounding countryside and published a summary of observations in 1910 in the Stonyhurst Magazine under the title 'Ancient Crosses about Stonyhurst'.

He made his most important contribution to Christian Archaeology while attached to staff of St Mary's-on-the-Quay, Bristol. In Bristol Cathedral and many of the old churches in and around the city are shrines of which the original purpose had been forgotten. Luck identified them as being either Altars of Repose or Easter Sepulchres. He gave a long description of his researches in the Tablet, 7 April 1934. In letters to his sisters he often discussed artworks and encouraged them in their own artistic endeavours. At his last assignment at Farm Street he undertook the task of cleaning and polishing the pictures on the walls in the refectory.

Luck was ordained 31 July 1901 at St Beuno's College and completed his Tertianship at Tronchiennes, Belgium. His final vows were taken 2 February 1903. During his life as a priest he was attached to the mission staff of several churches, usually as a curate and mostly in Lancashire. In 1911 Luck left Stonyhurst to open a House of Retreat for men in Lewisham, diocese of Southwark, but the project was abandoned. In August of that year, however, Thornbury (later Campion) House, Isleworth, in the archdiocese of Westminster, was opened for the same purpose with Luck as Superior. He remained there until 1915 when he was gazetted as a Chaplain to the Forces, in which capacity he served until 1919.

During the War Luck was first barracked with the 11th Battalion Scottish Rifles at Sutton Veny, where troops were trained prior to deployment to Northern France. He was then charged to the Royal Army Medical Corps with the 79th Brigade and proceeded to France in September 1915. In November 1915 the Division moved to Salonika via Marseilles. In his letters Luck describes his work as a chaplain which included saying mass, censoring the troops' letters and visiting patients. He also provides in depth descriptions of the camps and his accommodation. Towards the end of 1916 Luck is treated for dysentery in Malta, but travels back to Salonika to take up his work.

Between 1923 and 1924 Luck lived in a cottage in the recently purchased Heythrop estate in Oxford which was to house a tertiary education college, acting as a sort of caretaker while alterations and additions were made.

Between 1928 and 1930 he was parish priest at St Winefride's, Holywell. The last 9 years of his life were spent at Farm Street, London. To within his last 3 weeks he said 11 o' clock mass on weekdays and generally had about six converts under his instruction, and as Spiritual Father he was Confessor to most of the community.

He died on Christmas Day 1950 in the Hospital of Our Lady of Consolation, Lambeth, after three weeks' illness. His requiem took place at Farm Street.
Related Material - For letters held in other collections, see Holywell 48/8/3/3 and Heythrop SK/1-2 and SL/2 & -/5
- For a portrait see SJ/PH/739
- The Society was presented with an album on departing the parish of Holywell. For this, a letter concering the album written by Luck 13 November 1931 and a photograph album containg his portrait, see 44/4/1/2
- See Blandyke Paper index
AccessConditionsThe papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to archive material in the Jesuits in Britain Archives.
PublnNoteFr J R Luck, SJ, 'Easter Sepulchres and Altars of Repose in our Ancient Cathedrals' in The Tablet Vol. 163 No. 4900 (7 April 1934), pp.432-434
DS/UK/576Luck; John (1867-1950); Jesuit Priest1867-1950

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