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Former Junior Seminary at St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw

A Grade II Listed Building in Esh, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.788 / 54°47'16"N

Longitude: -1.6633 / 1°39'48"W

OS Eastings: 421746

OS Northings: 543724

OS Grid: NZ217437

Mapcode National: GBR JFT2.PF

Mapcode Global: WHC4H.FX5C

Plus Code: 9C6WQ8QP+5M

Entry Name: Former Junior Seminary at St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw

Listing Date: 24 June 1987

Last Amended: 9 January 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1186191

English Heritage Legacy ID: 350524

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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Former Junior house of Roman Catholic seminary. 1857-9 by Edward Welby Pugin.


Materials: thin courses of squared sandstone with ashlar plinth and dressings; roof of graduated Lakeland slate with stone gable copings.

Plan: 3 main ranges round a forecourt; 3 further ranges behind enclose a courtyard; at right set back 3 further smaller ranges enclose a second courtyard. Gothic style.

Exterior: 1-storey, 11-bay main range; long side ranges end in 6-bay study place at left and CHAPEL OF ST. ALOYSIUS (q.v.) at right. Master's rooms on upper storey at left of main range project from side range. Central projecting gabled entrance bay has low-2-centred arches over double boarded doors, flanking transomed 2-light windows and large 3-light window above. Flanking bays have similar heads to 3-light transomed windows; external chimney stack between second and third bays to right of entrance; mansard roof with 3-light dormer windows under steeply-pitched gables containing small lights. String at attic floor level. Left front study place in similar style has 2-light windows; left return has central buttressed external chimney stack. Master's rooms in tall projection at left end of main range have buttresses, varied windows and tall traceried stair window under steeply-pitched hipped roof with small gabled lights and ridge finials. Right side range has octagonal stair-turret adjacent to chapel (originally surmounted by a spire). End chimneys on study place; front chimney on main range; other ridge chimneys, all with plinths, offsets and octagonal coped shafts.

Interior: open-arched entrance hall, now filled with screen; original doors throughout; former refectory, later gymnasium, has arch-braced king-post roof. Dormitories have cusped wood brackets supporting roof beams but have lost their original panelled wood dormitory partitions.

Subsidiary Features: to the west of the main building is a BALL-GAME WALL. Probably c.1859 by Edward Welby Pugin. It is built of coursed squared sandstone with ashlar dressings. It is a high wall with side buttresses on lower side walls, all with steeply-pitched copings. Asphalt areas on each side were courts for "Keeping Up" a game played with battledores.


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.

Reasons for Listing

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

* Architectural interest: the Junior Seminary is an accomplished work by one of the leading architects of the Gothic Revival, E. W. Pugin;
* Historic interest: the Junior Seminary at St Cuthbert's College was part of a broader educational programme at Ushaw to provided the priesthood to a resurgent Roman Catholic Church in C19 England;
* Group value: the Junior Seminary has a close visual and functional relationship with the nearby listed college buildings.

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