Foundation (1589) To La Vulnerata (1600)
"The King of Spaine, for furthering of other intentions against Englande, has dealt with Cardinal Allen and Father Persons to gather together with great labour uppon his charges a multitude of dissolute youthes to begin this seminary of Valladolid and others in Spaine." This accusation in a proclamation of Elizabeth I in 1591 was the first intimation to most people of the existence of the English College of St Alban in Valladolid.
The English College at Douai, the "mother" of all the other seminaries was opened in 1568 by William Allen. Ten years later, it was forced by political troubles to move to Rheims. The situation became even more precarious in 1588 when the Huguenots threatened to attack. On 8th May 1588, the Douai Diaries record that three scholars left to start a College in Spain. By July of the following year, a contemporary writer, thought to be Father Persons himself, said that "four or five English priests and scholars had met by good chance or rather by Gods particular providence in this town of Valladolid...."
In fact, in 1589 King Philip II had given to Father Persons, a still extant document, of permission to appeal for funds,to the authorities in Valladolid. This document allayed the fears of the city fathers who, only one year after the Armada and being suspicious of foreigners, had had the priests and students arrested. They were released from custody on the security of Father Persons and they took up lodgings in the attic of a house near the convent of Santa Clara in the city. Conditions were primitive and money was scarce. Father Persons talks about "gathering together such Englishmen as were there and providing for them until the weather and time and other opportunities did serve for them to continue their intended journey to England".
In September 1589, he rented a house on the site now occupied by the new library and theatre, though lamenting the fact that the King had given "but100 crownes". The original family of five students was enlarged the following year by two groups of ten students from Douai which included two future martyrs, Robert Drury and Roger Filcock
In June 1596, seven years after the foundation of the College and one year after the martyrdom of St Henry Walpole, the Earl of Essex and Sir Waiter Raleigh led a punitive force the Spanish fleet gathering in the harbour of Cadiz. The troops ran riot and singled out for desecration a statue of the Madonna and Child which was the object of great devotion in Cadiz. The students of the College heard of the attack and asked if they as Englishman might take upon themselves the obligation of making reparation. Their petition was granted, and on the 8th September 1600 the statue was brought to Valladolid and was given the title of Our Lady Vulnerata.
With the help of a generous nobleman and that of the Catholic exiles in the Low Countries, the property was purchased with the surrounding land, and a church was opened by 1591.The foundation was approved on 25th April 1592 by Pope Clement VIII.