Ushaw College

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Ushaw: Historic House, Chapels & Gardens
Formerly Ushaw College
Ushaw college.jpg
St Aloysius' Chapel
Durham UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Ushaw: Historic House, Chapels & Gardens
54°47′17″N1°39′40″W / 54.78818°N 1.66116°W / 54.78818; -1.66116 Coordinates: 54°47′17″N1°39′40″W / 54.78818°N 1.66116°W / 54.78818; -1.66116
Location Ushaw Moor, Durham
Denomination Roman Catholic
Former name(s)English College, Douai
StatusTheological College
FoundedSeptember 29, 1568 (1568-09-29)
Founder(s) Bishop William Gibson
Dedication Saint Cuthbert
Consecrated September 1808
Functional statusClosed as college, open as visitor attraction
Heritage designationGrade II with parts Grade II* and St Michael's Chapel Grade I [1]
Designated17 January 1967 (main block and college chapel; other parts, including St Michael's Chapel, added 24 June 1987)
Architect(s) James Taylor
Dunn and Hansom
Style Gothic Revival
Groundbreaking 23 April 1804
Completed2 August 1808
ClosedJune 2011
Province Liverpool
Diocese Hexham and Newcastle
Episcopal area Sunderland and East Durham
Deanery St Cuthbert
Parish St Joseph's, Ushaw Moor
Ushaw College, Durham.svg

Ushaw College (formally St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw), is a former Catholic seminary near the village of Ushaw Moor, County Durham, England, which is now a heritage and cultural tourist attraction. The college is known for its Georgian and Victorian Gothic architecture and listed nineteenth-century chapels. The college now hosts a programme of art exhibitions, music and theatre events, alongside tearooms and a café.


It was founded in 1808 by scholars from the English College, Douai, who had fled France after the French Revolution. Ushaw College was affiliated with Durham University from 1968 and was the principal Roman Catholic seminary for the training of Catholic priests in the north of England.

In 2011, the seminary closed, due to the shortage of vocations. It reopened as a visitor attraction, marketed as Ushaw: Historic House, Chapels & Gardens in late 2014 and, as of 2019, receives around 50,000 visitors a year. The County Durham Music Service and Durham University Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring are based at the college and buildings at the college are also used by Durham University Business School. [2] [3]



The English College, Douai was founded in 1568 but was forced to leave France in 1795 following the French Revolution. Part of the college settled temporarily at Crook Hall near Lanchester, northwest of Durham. In 1804 Bishop William Gibson began to build at Ushaw Moor, four miles west of Durham. These buildings, designed by James Taylor, were opened as St Cuthbert's College in 1808. There was a steady expansion during the nineteenth century with new buildings put up to cater for the expanding number of clerical and secular students. In 1847, the newly built chapel, designed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was opened. [4] This was followed by the Big Library and Exhibition Hall designed by Joseph Hansom, 1849–1851. [5] The Junior House, designed by Peter Paul Pugin, was added in 1859. St Cuthbert's Chapel, designed by Dunn and Hansom, was opened in 1884, replacing AWN Pugin's 1847 chapel which the seminary had outgrown. The Refectory was designed and built by E. W. Pugin. The final development came in the early 1960s with the opening of a new East wing, providing additional classrooms and single bedrooms for 75 students. The main college buildings are Grade II listed, the College Chapel is Grade II* and the Chapel of St Michael is Grade I.

University of Durham

Although independent, Ushaw College had a close working relationship with Durham University. The college became a Licensed Hall of Residence of the University of Durham in 1968. It was independent of the university but offered courses validated by the university, and both Church and lay students studied at the college. The Junior House closed in 1972, its younger students being transferred to St Joseph's College, Up Holland in Lancashire.

21st Century

In 2002, the college rejected a report from the Roman Catholic hierarchy that it should merge with St Mary's College, Oscott, near Birmingham. [6] However, in October 2010 it was announced that the college would close in 2011 due to the shortage of vocations in the Roman Catholic Church, and that the site might be sold. [7] Following a detailed feasibility study by the college's Trustees and Durham University, and with support from Durham County Council and English Heritage, [8] [9] it was announced in January 2012 that Durham Business School would temporarily relocate to the college during rebuilding of the school's buildings in Durham. This was seen as the first step in a long-term education-based vision for the site. [10]

The university also agreed to catalogue and archive the Ushaw library and inventory the other collections to ensure their preservation and specialist conservation, [11] with a view to creating a proposed Ushaw Centre for Catholic Scholarship and Heritage. [8] In March 2019, an uncatalogued early charter of King John was found in the library manuscript collection. [12]

In 2017, Durham University announced plans to develop an international residential research library at Ushaw College, with the aim of attracting scholars from around the world to work on the collections of Ushaw, Durham University and Durham Cathedral. The university has also confirmed that it has extended the agreement to lease the east wing of the college (used by the Business School) to 2027. [13] The college is also used for numerous musical events and for the Ushaw Lecture Series, organised by the university's Centre for Catholic Studies. [14]

In 2018, Durham University's Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) moved into the east wing of the college, previously used by the Business School. [3]


The college armorial bearings are "Per pale dexter Argent a Cross Gules on a Canton Azure a Cross of St Cuthbert proper sinister impaling Allen Argent three Rabbits couchant in pale Sable."

Various emblems on shield represent the college's history and foundation, for example:-


Early drawing of Ushaw designed (1804-1808) by James Taylor Ushaw.gif
Early drawing of Ushaw designed (1804–1808) by James Taylor
The Death of St Bede; the monastic clergy are wearing surplices over their cowls (original painting at St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw) Death of St Bede - Project Gutenberg eText 16785.jpg
The Death of St Bede ; the monastic clergy are wearing surplices over their cowls (original painting at St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw)



List of presidents

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  12. BBC news report
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  14. "Events". Ushaw College. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
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