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Main Buildings at St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw, Quadrangle, Museum, Infirmary, Class Rooms and Service Ranges

A Grade II Listed Building in Esh, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.7883 / 54°47'18"N

Longitude: -1.6611 / 1°39'40"W

OS Eastings: 421889

OS Northings: 543769

OS Grid: NZ218437

Mapcode National: GBR JFV2.59

Mapcode Global: WHC4H.GX62

Plus Code: 9C6WQ8QQ+8H

Entry Name: Main Buildings at St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw, Quadrangle, Museum, Infirmary, Class Rooms and Service Ranges

Listing Date: 17 January 1967

Last Amended: 9 January 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1186139

English Heritage Legacy ID: 350519

Location: Esh, County Durham, DH7

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Esh

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Esh and Hamsteels

Church of England Diocese: Durham

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College buildings, 1808 and later by A. W. N. Pugin, E. W. Pugin, J. Hansom, P. P. Pugin and others.


Roman Catholic diocesan seminary main buildings, comprising offices, class and common rooms, refectory and chapel (now hall) with dormitories above, infirmary and service ranges.

NORTH, SOUTH AND EAST QUADRANGLE RANGES 1804-8, probably by James Taylor of Islington, with amendments and supervision by William Bell of Newcastle; west quadrangle range 1812-17 in same style. Circa 1837-40 alterations and additions including KITCHEN RANGE, ENTRANCE HALL and STAIRCASE, mostly by 'Mr. Green of Newcastle'; west range PROFESSORS' DINING ROOM gothicised 1855-6 and stair turret added in 1856 by Edward Welby Pugin. BOILER HOUSE AND LAUNDRY added 1854-6 by E. W. Pugin who also remodelled the KITCHEN and CONVENT range 1859. Infirmary by E. W. Pugin, 1856-8. NORTH RANGE REFECTORY gothicised 1846 by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, extended 1873, roof raised to add DORMITORY 1901-2 by Peter Paul Pugin; former chapel altered to HALL and gothicised 1848 by Joseph Hansom and east extension added by 1890 by Peter Paul Pugin. South range top dormitory storey added 1905-7 by Sebastian Pugin Powell; new front door and steps 1908.

MATERIALS: coursed squared sandstone with ashlar quoins, plinth and dressings; roofs of graduated
Lakeland slate. Neo-classical and Gothic Revival Styles.

EXTERIOR: south elevation 4 storeys, 1:6:3:6 bays, 16 in all. Symmetrical except for left set-back staircase bay. Steps up to central panelled double doors and fanlight with vertical glazing bars in wide round-headed surround with narrow courses and voussoirs; 3 central bays project slightly, with open second-floor pediment continuous with bracketed second-floor cornice; alternate-block jambs and voussoirs, and sill bands, to sashes with glazing bars, those on top 2 floors smaller; pilasters define blank bays above pediment; top cornice continues over balustraded parapet of set-back left bay. 5 ashlar-corniced transverse ridge chimneys.

East elevation 2 storeys, nine bays; matching buttressed and stepped chimneys between bays 3 and 4 and between bays 6 and 7. Bays 2 and 8 are blank on the ground floor with a small window on the first floor. All other bays contained large windows with alternate-block jambs and voussoirs; those to the ground floor 12-over-12 sashes, replaced by casements on the first floor. Ground floor window in bay 9 obscured by later linking block. Flat sill course to first floor, raised parapet above rising to form gables to chimneys.

Elevation to QUADRANGLE: SOUTH, EAST AND WEST RANGES have sashes, most with glazing bars and some with C20 glazing, in same style as front windows; original double door and overlight in EAST RANGE; west range has central Gothic-style stair turret with side buttresses, dripmoulds over door and traceried stair window, and steeply-pitched gable (E. W. Pugin 1856); NORTH RANGE has low pent wash-places (J. & C. Hansom, 1854), triple shouldered clerestory lights to corridor, and straight-headed lights to REFECTORY at left and HALL at right behind; DORMITORY over refectory has mansard roof, and turret.

BOILER HOUSE AND LAUNDRY: this extends north from the northeast corner of the QUADRANGLE blocks. The BOILERHOUSE forms a transverse gabled block at the north end of the LAUNDRY with two gabled dormers in the north slope of the roof. The LAUNDRY roof has truncated chimneys on its north and south gables with numerous flues and vents piercing the slates. The west side facing into the service court is lined with ancillary, single storey spaces. The west façade consists of five, approximately symmetrical bays; to the left, the large gable of the boiler house contained a stepped and transomed three light window with shallow arched heads and a small single cusped lancet in the apex; then a bay occupied by a boarded double-doored cart entrance beneath a cusped lancet in the gablet; a bay with a double straight-headed window; a bay with glazed double doors beneath a cusped lancet in the gablet; and to the right a large gable with a boarded and glazed sliding-doored cart entrance and a double straight headed window on the ground floor and two tall double straight-headed windows on the first floor. Chamfered and coped chimney rising from apex.

The KITCHEN and CONVENT range: this forms an irregular "T" extending north and then west from the centre of the north quadrangle range. 2 storey and 3 storey in places, it is irregularly fenestrated; all windows are ashlar-dressed and retain their original glazing, some casements, some sashes, most square headed, some mullioned, some transomed, with one gabled dormer on the east façade having a traceried decorative gothic two-light window with leaded panes. To the west of this range is a curving ramped cart entrance which passes beneath the linking passage to the Infirmary.

The INFIRMARY: this is built of coursed squared sandstone with ashlar dressings beneath a pitched graduated slate roof. The building has a squat H-plan with a projecting gable on its main south front. Decorated Gothic in style. The south elevation is symmetrical with five bays. The central bay projects forward with a tall gable bearing a large, three light traceried Decorated window at the first floor. The ground floor has an entrance door beneath a depressed 2-centre arched head flanked by paired, cusped and transomed lancets. Above the door is an armorial panel bearing the arms of the college. The bays on either side each have a triplet of cusped transomed lancets on the ground floor and a shouldered, depressed 2-centre arched headed window beneath a hood mould on the first floor. This pitch of the roof is punctured by two gabled louvred dormers with cusped bargeboards. The east and west elevations have projecting gabled bays flanking a central block. The north gables have windows which match those in the south elevation’s outer bays, while the southern gables have a single window formed of a graduated triplet of cusped lancets beneath a hood mould. The ground floor of the north gables is partly occupied by the linking blocks to the ST. BEDE’S CENTRE and the KITCHENS. The central block has a pair of windows matching those at the first floor on the south elevation’s outer bays with, on the west a elevation, a single cusped and transomed lancet on either side. The north elevation is dominated by a pair of tall, projecting chimney stacks at either end flanking a number of single, double and triple lancet windows. a gable marks the centre of the elevation.

CHEMICAL LABORATORY: this is loosely based on the Abbot's Kitchen at Glastonbury; square-plan, 2-bay, single-storey. It is attached to the east end of the hall in the north range of main college building by a 7-bay, single-storey corridor. It is built of thin courses of squared sandstone with an ashlar plinth and dressings; the roofs are of graduated Lakeland slates with stone gable copings and fleur-de-lys-crested ridge tiles. The laboratory has a stepped sill string under transomed windows with 2 cusped lights under a gabled dormer; angle buttresses; the steeply-pitched pyramidal roof has a high lattice-glazed octagonal lantern and spirelet with a spike finial. The corridor's first 2 bays are slightly higher and separated by a buttress from the 5-bay part with steps up to double boarded doors in a 2-centred arch in a moulded surround; each bay has paired cusped lights except for a single light in the right bay under the dripmoulds. Between sections the overlapping gable coping has gablets on the feet.

PROCURATOR'S ROOMS and MUSEUM with bedrooms above: this is built of thin courses of squared sandstone with ashlar dressings and plinth; the roof is of graduated Lakeland slates with stone gable copings. Gothic style. The 2 storey MUSEUM block is 13 bays long linking the west range of the main house to the 2 storey, 3 bay deep PROCURATOR’S ROOMS. The 13 bay MUSEUM range has, in alternate bays on the ground floor of each elevation, cusped, transomed 3-light windows under depressed 2-centred dripmoulds rising from a continuous string course. Each bay of the south elevation has paired cusped, transomed lights in gabled half dormers on the first floor. The north elevation is similar but with the half dormers in alternate bays only. The 9th bay of the south elevation has a projecting 3-sided bay at ground floor and the 8th bay of the north elevation has a corbelled external chimney supported on paired buttresses.

The west elevation of the PROCURATOR’S ROOMS has cusped tracery in 2-light ground-floor windows; a transomed square-headed first-floor window at right, and a high corbelled external chimney at left with a niche in the chimney at eaves level. a half dormer at right contains a transomed 2-light window with a trefoil in the gable peak. The right return gable has paired 2-light ground-floor windows under a traceried oriel flanked by niches and a transomed square-headed window with a trefoil in the gable peak. All the windows are under dripmoulds; the chimney corbels are lion masks. The whole rises from a massive double-chamfered plinth which is continuous with diagonal buttresses. The roof copings have gablets on kneelers and fleur-de-lys moulded gable finials; the chimney has paired octagonal shafts.

INTERIOR: ENTRANCE HALL has triple arcade with keyed arches on pilasters and impost bands; wide stair with lower steps free-standing on clustered shaft; and cantilevered upper part; double wreath and curtail. Gothic niche opposite entrance with statue of Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom by A. B. Wall, 1879 (replacing a former doorway to the internal courtyard). 6-panel doors with original brass fittings in corridors. PROFESSORS' DINING ROOM at north of WEST RANGE, decorated and furnished by E. W. Pugin. His Gothic-style stone chimney-piece was resited when the room extended in 1873-8; ornate brass hinges and lock scutcheons; linenfold panelling on doors and window shutters. NORTH RANGE Gothic-style REFECTORY has stone chimney-piece by A. W. N. Pugin with relief of angels with coat of arms above; original gasoliers, converted for electric light. Stained glass (11 windows) by A. W. N. Pugin and J. Hardman and Co 1848. Refectory extension to the west and the floor of white Sicilian and black Galway marble is by E. W. Pugin, designed 1868 but not executed until 1873.

EXHIBITION HALL by Joseph Hansom, 1848, (former chapel) to the east contains tiered seating facing a stage at the west end. It is elaborately decorated with panelled dado, stencilled ceiling and hammerbeam roof, the beams carved in life-size figures of saint-patrons of arts and sciences, the trusses with ornate arch-braces. Heraldic glass by A. W. N. Pugin and Hardman, Panelling on the stage with copper reliefs by Edwin Bonney (a professor at the college).

NORTH RANGE CORRIDOR has wood-bracketed ceiling with timber traceried spandrels.

A Gothic stone stair, rises behind a three-light glazed traceried screen to the first floor from the north end of the EAST RANGE. The first floor DORMITORY of the EAST RANGE retains its timber lining from 1925 but now contains modern partitions. Largely complete timber partitioned dormitories survive on the top floor of the west range (1894) and above the Refectory (1902).

The ground floor of the INFIRMARY has an entrance hall at one time used for dining (now containing a modern glazed internal porch) with former wards either side. The rear of the hall is separated from the stairs by a simple screen formed of a pair of arches supported on a single clustered shaft. The timber close-tread stair rises around an open well to a galleried first floor. The newels all have simple Gothic finials and the stick balusters are chamfered with stops. The rooms are largely intact retaining their picture rails but lacking their fireplaces. In some cases they contain modern timber subdivisions.

The interior of the CHEMICAL LABORATORY retains later toilet cubicles, fittings and glazed tiling while the corridor leading to it retains dado panelling and a scissor-braced roof with shouldered-lintelled doorways.

The interior of the former MUSEUM has painted plaster and a ceiling with timber coffering. The bays marked by elaborate cusped brackets rising from chamfered wall-posts supported on decorated stone corbels. a modern screen separates the two easternmost bays and a modern stair rises to the ground floor of the PROCURATOR’S ROOMS at the west end.


STABLE BUILDING, c.1855, probably by Edward Welby Pugin. Coursed squared sandstone with ashlar dressings beneath a pitched graduated slate roof with gables at east and west ends. The south façade is 1½ storeys high. To the left is a door beneath a depressed two-centred arch, flanked by small windows. To the right is a large sliding timber door, apparently added as part of the conversion to a motor house. Above is a gabled taking in door and another small window. The interior was not inspected but it is understood that the stable fittings and partitions were removed when the building was converted to a motor house.

TERRACE RETAINING WALL AND PARAPET, and steps with flanking walls, in front of St. Cuthbert's College main block. 1852-3 by Joseph Hansom. Coursed squared sandstone with ashlar dressings. Gothic style. The terrace extends the length of the main college building, and has central steps up from garden. The parapet and walls flanking the steps are ashlar with chamfered squared pilasters, and triple double-chamfered coping. Chamfered piers at foot of steps and ends of terrace have a similar coping.

In front of the south façade of the INFIRMARY is a low terrace with a set of stone steps.


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 early buildings by James Taylor of Islington were formed around a courtyard with its final, west range completed in 1819. However, 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 Junior House, 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.

As part of this campaign E. W. Pugin built the chemistry laboratory (1854-6) and the Museum and Procurator's Rooms (1856-8). The Museum was subsequently converted to the Sacristy of St Bede and was used for training in conducting the liturgy. The stable appears to have been part of the suite of service buildings designed by E. W. Pugin in the mid-1850s. It was subsequently converted to use as a motor house.

In 1837 an appeal had been launched to upgrade the existing buildings at Ushaw and to provide a number of ancillary buildings of which an infirmary was one. At the time two guest rooms in the main building were serving this function. However, the infirmary was not built until 1856-8, despite objections from the Diocese of Liverpool, to designs by E. W. Pugin. It contained its own chapel, dispensary and kitchen.

In 1882-5 St. Cuthbert's Chapel was rebuilt to designs by Dunn & Hansom in order to provide greater space for the enlarged college. This necessitated the demolition of the chapel by A.W.N. Pugin but made use of a number of elements from the earlier building in the new design. Further, late C19 and C20 developments included the construction of an indoor swimming pool and numerous alterations to the Main Building by Peter Paul Pugin. Sebastian Pugin Powell was responsible for an additional storey ("Tip Top") to the south range in 1906, the memorial chapels in 1920 and the construction of the new range of accommodation and teaching rooms (St Bede's Centre) in 1932. The construction of the East Wing in 1964 by Robert Burke was the last major development on the site.

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 College closed in 1973 and the college itself closed in 2011 although proposals are being developed for new uses related to Catholic education.

Reasons for Listing

The main buildings at St. Cuthbert's College are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: these buildings contain elements by some of the most notable architects of the Gothic Revival movement, A. W. N. Pugin, E. W. Pugin and Joseph Hansom. The Exhibition Hall, Refectory, Professors' Dining Room and Procurator's Rooms are of particular note;
* Historical interest: St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw, as the Roman Catholic seminary for the north of England, played a central role in the growth of the Roman Catholic Church in England through the C19 and C20;
* Group value: the main buildings form part of a strong group with other elements of the complex at Ushaw.

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