During the reign of Elizabeth I, the country saw a new rise in Protestantism that was imposed upon the entire Kingdom. A large number of staunch Catholics fled the country for their own religious freedoms and amongst them were many learned individuals. They entered the then newly formed University of Douai, France and became very influential, even becoming known as English Secular College. With their religious persecution behind them, the University flourished over the next 200 years keeping to both the Catholic teachings and also more in depth studies leading to the priesthood. Unfortunately a new threat dawned with the uprising of the French people and the start of the French Revolution. The College was seized by the army of the French Republic in 1793.
Many of the students and professors fled back to England, although some were captured and imprisoned along with many other English nationals until their release in 1795. After arriving back in England they took shelter first at the Mission House Pontop before finally moving on to Crook Hall in October 1794, which became a temporary home to the College. One of the first to arrive was John Lingard who went on to publish History of England. Initially he meant to emphasise the disastrous effects that the Reformation had had on the country, but with his unbiased approach become an important piece of writing which is still used and referred to today. Although the college was only based at Crookhall for 15 years, more than 25 priests were ordained. The college became a victim of its own success and soon there was no longer room for its needs. On 19 July 1808 the college was removed to new buildings at Ushaw. A farm house now occupies the spot where the Crook Hall once stood but its legacy lives on in the mining village which bears its name.