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Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman's Birmingham


The visit by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to Birmingham for the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman was a momentous occasion not only for our city and for the West Midlands, but also represented an unprecedented opportunity to emphasise the important role of faith in creating strong communities. This leaflet is designed to give just a glimpse of some of the places associated with Cardinal Newman and his impact on our city. It shows the great architecture of the period and explains some of the historic moments that took place in them.

Cardinal Newman has left us with a great legacy for people to appreciate for generations to come. I do hope you enjoy visiting those sites that are accessible and also appreciate other major attractions in our city, details of which can be found on our tourism website, www.visitbirmingham.com

Councillor Alan Rudge
Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources
Birmingham City Council Lead Member for the Papal Visit 2010

Cardinal John Henry Newman’s Birmingham

Cardinal Newman spent 45 years of his life in Birmingham. In the 19th century the city was one of the great centres of Catholic revival in England, in which Newman was such a profound influence.

This webpage highlights some of the places associated with Cardinal Newman, in his work in ministering to the people of the city, in his establishment of England’s first Oratory and in his spiritual mission.

With hindsight we can see the effect Newman’s presence had on Birmingham and his lasting legacy. From his establishment of the Oratory at Maryvale on the outskirts of the city to a disused gin factory in Alcester Street in the centre, and finally to Edgbaston in 1852 to a purpose-built house, now adjacent to the Birmingham Oratory and still occupied by the Oratory Fathers today.

Newman was also a great scholar, writer and poet and his writings are still the subject of academic study today. Many colleges and places of learning around the world are named after him. His poem The Dream of Gerontius was set to music by Elgar and premiered at Birmingham Town Hall and is still a popular classical piece today.

Don’t forget to check out www.visitbirmingham.com for other information on Birmingham.

For information on public transport, call the Centro hotline on 0121 200 2787 or log onto www.networkwestmidlands.com

This map is reproduced from the Ordnance Survey Material with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty

This map is reproduced from the Ordnance Survey Material with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. © Crown Copyright. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecution or Civil proceedings. Birmingham City Council. Licence No. 100021326, 2010

City Centre

1. St Chad’s RC Cathedral and Basilica, Birmingham
St Chad’s Queensway, Birmingham, B4 6ET
Situated on the northern edge of the city centre it is a 10-15 minute walk from New Street or 3 minutes from Snow Hill Station.

The principal church of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, St Chad’s was the first Catholic Cathedral to be erected in England since the Reformation. Cardinal Newman preached here on many occasions.

St Chad’s was designed by AWN Pugin (1812-1852), one of the most influential architects of his generation, and built between 1839 and 1841. The cathedral, enriched with medieval, renaissance and Victorian art, is one of the most beautiful gothic revival buildings in England. The relics of St Chad are enshrined above the High Altar.

Open Monday - Saturday 9am - 5pm, Sunday 8am - 3pm.
For information, call 0121 230 6201 (8am - 5pm Monday to Friday), weekends - 0121 230 6209.

2. The Oratory
141 Hagley Road, Edgbaston, B16 8UE
Just south of city centre, 15-20 minute walk or less than 10 minute drive.

The Oratory House (next to the existing church) was built in 1850-51 and is a Grade II listed building. It was Newman’s home between 1852 and 1890.

The Church is a spectacular basilica (also a Grade II listed building) dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. It was constructed between 1907 and 1910 in the baroque style as a memorial to Cardinal Newman; his relics are in the Chapel on the right hand side of the Oratory. It is commonly known as “Little Rome” in Birmingham.

This site, which included the famous Oratory school before its move to Reading in 1922, remains a thriving parish. The Oratory House still holds most of Newman’s possessions.
Opening Times: Weekends, 9am-5.30pm, during service times and by appointment.
Tel: 0121 454 0808 www.birmingham-oratory.org.uk

3. St Anne’s Church
Corner of Bradford Street and Alcester Street, Digbeth B12 0PB
15-20 minute walk from city centre or short 5 minute drive.

Fr Newman began his mission to the poorest people of Birmingham in a disused gin factory situated in Alcester Street, Birmingham, in February 1849. It was exactly a year after the inauguration of the Oratory at Maryvale that Newman opened the Chapel in Alcester Street. The current St Anne’s, built by Albert Vicars in 1883-4, remains one of the most important Catholic mission churches in the city. It has long been a centre of worship for Catholics, including the young JRR Tolkien and his family. The parish is now under the care of a religious community, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Open during service hours and by appointment.
Tel: 0121 772 2780 www.omibirmingham.org

4. Town Hall Birmingham
Victoria Square, B3 3DQ
Located in the city centre less than 5 minute walk from New Street Station. It is directly opposite Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

In October 1900 the Town Hall staged the premiere of Edward Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, based on a poem by Cardinal Newman.

The Town Hall was designed by Joseph Hansom and Edward Welch and built between 1832 and 1854. Hansom was one of the most prolific and talented Catholic architects of the Victorian period.

Open for events and by appointment.
For information, call 0121 200 2000 www.thsh.co.uk

5. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Chamberlain Square, B3 3DH
Located next to Town Hall Birmingham.

The Museum is hosting a special display of material associated with Newman to coincide with his Beatification, including a portrait, personal artefacts and regalia, most of which will be seen for the first time in public.

You can also see one of the finest collections of Italian religious painting outside the National Gallery, as well as metalwork, furniture and stained glass by Pugin and his friend and associate, John Hardman, a leading member of the Catholic community in the 1840s and ‘50s.

For information call 0121 303 1966 www.bmag.org.uk

Admission Free. Some exhibitions and events may charge. Opening Times: Monday - Thursday 10am - 5pm, Friday 10.30am - 5pm, Saturday 10am - 5pm, Sunday 12.30 - 5pm

North of the city

6. St Mary’s College, Oscott (New Oscott)
Chester Road, Sutton Coldfield, B73 5AA

St Mary’s College is the home of the Seminary of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, training students for the priesthood and religious life. Newman made his first visit to the College in 1845, and preached at the first Synod of Westminster at Oscott in 1852. This gathering marked the formal reinstitution of Catholic bishops in England after the long break since the Reformation.

The college contains many fine buildings, including the beautiful chapel, an important early Catholic commission by the architect AWN Pugin.

The House is not normally open to visitors but the College does hold some public open events. For details. Tel: 0121 321 5000 www.oscott.net

7. Maryvale Institute
Old Oscott Hill, Kingstanding, B44 9EG

It was here that John Henry Newman founded the first English Oratory of St Philip. An oratory is a community of priests living and working together.

The site of Maryvale has been in Catholic occupation since the Middle Ages. From 1794 to 1838 it was the home of Oscott College, the first Seminary (school preparing students for the priesthood) to open in England after the Reformation. In 1846 the college moved to the larger purpose-built premises at New Oscott. Newman and his community were granted the former Seminary as a house of retreat and study. It was Newman and his followers who gave it the name ‘Maryvale’ after St Philip Neri's church in Rome, Santa Maria in Vallicella.

Maryvale is now an international centre for theological education. For opening hours contact: 0121 360 8118, www.maryvale.ac.uk

South of the city

8. Cofton Park

An important place in the Catholic history of the city, as the site of Pope Benedict XVI’s Beatification of Cardinal Newman on 19 September 2010. A statue by Tim Tolkien of Cardinal Newman will be installed here in commemoration of this historic event.

Cofton Park is 135 acres of rolling fields and trees situated on the slopes next to the Lickey Hills Country Park. Near to the Rednal Oratory, Cardinal Newman would have walked here when it was Cofton Moor. The space became a park in 1936. (see below)

9. The Oratory House, Rednal
Off Lickey Road, next to Cofton Park.

Cardinal Newman was buried here in August 1890. Thousands of people lined the streets for his funeral. It is also the site where Newman found solace and refreshment in the peaceful environment of Cofton Moor and the Oratory House, which was used as a retreat by the Oratory Fathers. In common with all those to be Beatified, Newman’s remains were exhumed and transferred in 2008 to the Oratory, Hagley Road.

The House is still used as a place of retreat, for religious contemplation, and visiting is not normally possible. For information contact the Oratory, Birmingham.
Tel: 0121 454 0808. www.birmingham-oratory.org.uk

Cardinal Newman display at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
10 September 2010 - 6 January 2011
Free admission
Tel 0121 303 1966

This special display celebrates the life of Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) and marks his beatification on 19th September 2010, in Birmingham by Pope Benedict XVI. The small exhibition includes personal items such as his Cardinal’s robes, hat and shoes, and ceremonial objects including his ornate mitre and crosier, all kindly lent by Birmingham Oratory. Also on display is a stunning bust of Newman by his friend Richard Westmacott. These items will be complemented by a recently-conserved portrait of Newman by Birmingham-born William Thomas Roden, from the Museum’s own collections. The painting was commissioned in 1879 to mark Newman becoming a Cardinal, and was acclaimed for its lifelike quality and accuracy. The display is in the Museum’s gallery of Italian religious art and visitors to the Museum can also see other related collections of work by Pugin and Hardman who were leading members of the Catholic community in the 1840s and 50s.

Other displays include many religious works by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the world famous Anglo Saxon gold, The Staffordshire Hoard, which has a number of intriguing religious items.

Blessed John Henry Newman's Birmingham

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