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Former Junior Seminary Chapel of St Aloysius at St. Cuthbert's College, Ushaw

List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

Name: Former Junior Seminary Chapel of St Aloysius at St. Cuthbert's College, Ushaw

List entry Number: 1299434


Former Junior Seminary Chapel of St Aloysius, Ushaw College, Esh, Durham, DH7 9BL

The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.


District: County Durham

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Esh

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: II*

Date first listed: 24-Jun-1987

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Jan-2014

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: LBS

UID: 350525

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

Former Junior Roman Catholic diocesan seminary chapel. 1857-9 by Edward Welby Pugin.

Reasons for Designation

The Chapel of St Aloysius at the former Junior Seminary of St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: the chapel is an accomplished work by E. W. Pugin, one of the leading architects of the Gothic Revival. Its high quality suite of interior decoration and fittings, both painted and carved, mark the chapel out as being of particular interest; * Historic interest: the chapel was designed to serve the Junior Seminary of St Cuthbert's College, reflecting the resurgence of the Roman Catholic Church in C19 England; * Group value: the chapel has a strong visual and functional relationship with the adjacent listed junior seminary and the nearby college.


St Cuthbert's College was opened in 1808 to serve as the Catholic diocesan seminary for the Northern District. It continued a lineage of training for the English priesthood established at Douai, France by Cardinal William Allen following Elizabeth I's Protestant Religious Settlement of 1559; its students and professors having been driven out by the French Revolution. The middle years of the century saw Catholic ambition and confidence burgeoning after the Emancipation Act (1829), the arrival of Oxford Movement converts, the Irish immigration and the Restoration of the Catholic Hierarchy (1850). Both lay boys and "church students" were taught the faith according to the requirements for diocesan seminaries, laid down at the Council of Trent (1545-63). This was reflected in the college's remarkable expansion led by its 5th President, Monsignor Charles Newsham (1937-63). Newsham brought Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, Joseph and Charles Hansom and Edward Welby Pugin to build or rebuild chapels, the Exhibition Hall, the library, the museum, the infirmary, the laundry, the kitchens, the laboratory, the Bounds walls, the farm, the cemetery cloister and to carry out numerous alterations and additions to the existing buildings.

The idea of a preparatory school at Ushaw was first mooted by John Gillow, the 2nd President of Ushaw (1811-1828) and again proposed by Mgr. Charles Newsham shortly after his appointment at President of the college in 1837. However, it was resisted by the Bishop of Liverpool and building did not start until 1857 to designs by E. W. Pugin (following a competition with George Goldie and Joseph and Charles Hansom). Pupils were admitted from 1858 although for the first year they were accommodated in the newly built infirmary. The school buildings opened in 1859 as a self-contained entity with their own chapel and refectory although by the end of the century the boys were eating in the main college and attending the enlarged Chapel of St. Cuthbert.

The reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-5) to the formation of Catholic priests placed an increased emphasis on contact with communities and starting training later. As a result Ushaw experienced a sharp drop in numbers but developed strong links with the University of Durham, providing degree courses accredited by the University. The Junior School closed in 1973 with the buildings provided offices and workshops for skills training for a time. The college itself closed in 2011 although proposals are being developed for new uses related to Catholic education.


Materials: coursed squared sandstone with ashlar plinth and dressings; roof of graduated Lakeland slates with stone gable copings. Gothic Revival style.

Plan: nave with south transept; Lady chapel on east of transept.

Exterior: high pointed arched windows, 2-light in nave, 4-light in transept and 5-light in east front, under dripmoulds in buttressed bays; diagonal buttresses to transept, set-back buttresses at east and west ends. Sill string, stepped to large windows and to 6-foil Lady chapel window. Gablets on buttresses and on kneelers of steeply-pitched corbelled roof. Stone cross finials.

Interior: painted plaster with long wall-posts on angel corbels supporting arch-braced panelled roof with stencil decoration by Earley of Dublin. 2-centred north entrance and organ arches. Much rich decoration, including painted moulded dado rail with naturalistic leaf stops; painted decoration of Lady chapel circa 1890 by Rev. Henry Gillow. Caen stone high altar with marble shafts, alabaster tabernacle arch and exposition throne; high-relief carved roundels in altar and scenes from life of St. Aloysius in reredos. Seated statue of Our Lady, the Mother of Jesus, by Karl Hoffmann on north side of altar. West bay of north wall contains altar of St. Innocent, 1882 by Charles Hadfield with marble front and shafts, and Caen stone crocketed canopies, now missing its plated reliquary doors. Lady chapel has richly-carved altar designed by Canon Scruton. Organ painted in Gothic style by Bevington. C19 stained glass includes some by Hardman.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Laing, R C (ed) , Ushaw College: a Centenary Memorial, (1895)
Milburn, D, A History of Ushaw College, (1964)
St Cuthbert's Society, , Ushaw College 1808-2008: A Celebration, (2008)
O'Donnell, R, 'True Principles: Journal of the Pugin Society' in E W Pugin at Ushaw: The H T Brewer Bird's-Eye of 1856, (vol.iii, no. v, 2008)
Towers, E, 'Ushaw Magazine' in Architects At Ushaw And Their Work, (1952)

National Grid Reference: NZ 21773 43689


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End of official listing