Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ushaw decays

Visitors to Ushaw College walking around the grounds soon come across the derelict junior seminary building. It was completed in 1859 to the design of Edward Welby Pugin. In my time as a student it was used for youth employment scheme. It now stands empty. I once had the opportunity of visiting the chapel. I can`t remember how but I stumbled across a site which has pictures of the interior. It is so sad to see the buildings in this state. Pictures courtesy of 28Days Later urban exploration site where more can be found.


Simon Platt said...

That makes a sad contrast with the previous post.

Volpius Leonius said...

Well some of the damage there has been done on purpose, for example glass doesn't just break on its own.

There is more damage there than natural decay would explain.

They need to shut down the awful modernist youth village nonsense and restore Ushaw we have the money we just waste it all on rubbish.

Ttony said...

"It is so sad to see the buildings in this state."

Indeed, Father. Are they by any chance listed?

I'm sure that the dioceses of the north on hearing this dreadful news will queue up to ensure that at least the Chapel is rescued from this state of neglect and, if the author of the report is to be believed, desecration.

David O'Neill said...

How I agree with Volpius Leonius. The money wasted on the Youth Village could have been used to restore these parts of Ushaw & used those parts for youth. When all is said & done that was why Ushaw existed - to educate youth. Sad to say the are being 'educated' but not in the right way. Political correctness is the subject which seems to be closest to the hearts, that & coming closer to other false religions viz Anglicanism, Methodism etc etc

1569 Rising said...

Father Brown,

I am much too angry at the moment to make any sort of sensible posting on this absolutely disgraceful, indeed wicked dereliction of responsibility on the part of the College authorities, and those authorities are actually the Bishops of the Northern Province.

Give me a while to simmer down, and I may have something coherent to say.


May God forgive them.

1569 Rising said...

The impression I have is that nobody cares - at least nobody who could do anything about it cares, and that is disgraceful.

The Junior House was a victim of the turmoil in the Church in the 1970's, when new thinking decided that it would be beneficial to completely stop any form of priestly training under the age of 18, and that miraculously, vocations would suddenly flourish in older teenagers. So, in 1975 the Junior House was closed - it accomodated forms 1 - 3, and along with forms 4 - Upper 6 (housed in the main college building), the students were transferred to Upholland, but that itself closed down in 1987.

It became home for a number of years to a Interdenominational Youth Training Scheme, which also folded. It has remained a wreck ever since.

Could I advise readers to click on the link in Fr Brown's narrative for more, rather more upsetting pictures. Personally, I found 3 images especially distressing...
1. The bell rope with bell still in place. I was the Junior House's official bell-ringer in 1959 - 1960, a very responsible and quite important role. I know this may seem unimportant to sophisticates in 2010, but I took great delight in my role in keeping the House on time and in order.
2. The Organ. I see at some time it was given an electric mechanism, but in 1958 it was powered by hand via a lever at the side, and if the Organ Blower relaxed, then the playing faded away to nothing. I was that "blower"
3. The Lady Altar's frontal still half in place, as if the authorities couldn't be bothered to even take it down and fold it up. Someone, in times past, had lovingly embroidered it.

Of course, the rest of the Chapel is too sad to contemplate, especially the statue of Our Lady and the Child Jesus, just abandoned to its fate and dereliction.

One hardly dare ask about the Study Place, or the Gym, and especially the Swimming Baths, rebuilt in the early 1960's on the backs of numerous students clearing the site of the old structure. I was one of those students.

Volpius Leonius and David O'Neill mention the Youth Village. The Junior House was almost self contained - sleeping accomodation, meeting rooms, workshops, a gym, swimming pool, tennis courts, sports grounds, and sufficient space at the back for kitchens and dining facilities.

Immediately, the Chapel must be restored and given its respect back. It has one advantage, at least the 1970's wreckers had not got their hands on the beautiful high altar with its carved stone reredos.

The Church in the Northern Province has spent countless millions on the "re-ordering" of
churches in recent years. Is this currently the 3rd "re-ordering" of St Mary's Cathedral? This is all fine, if you thought it necessary, but for a fraction of the amount, the Junior House could have been mothballed and made secure, and St Aloysius' Chapel preserved. We should remember that thousands of Masses were celebrated in that Pugin gem, and thousands of young minds were nurtured in the Faith there. And hundreds of priests who served the people of the North of England over 120 years knelt in those pews.

Sorry for the length of this post, I have so much I would like to say,and I may return later, if anyone can stand it!

Sts Bassus,Fabius and Lucina, Pray for Us. Work that one out!!

English Pastor said...

The comment by 1969 Rising makes for very sad readings and brings to life the photographs one finds on Fr Brown's link.
Let us pray that the souls of those who allowed this ruination to occur are in a better state (imbued with sanctifying grace) than the building they dishonoured and continue to neglect. Indeed, all the money raised for the Hexham and Newcastle Youth Village could have been so well used in taking over this once-wonderful building where today’s young people could have experienced transcendent worship in worthy surroundings, as opposed to the likely communal congratulations in bland rooms designated 'chapels'.

Seeker said...

Having visited both Ushaw and the Youth Village recently, I have to say that both have their place. I've no idea what the practicalities of the old buildings at Ushaw are/were, but it's not always easy to provide a high standard of convenience in old buildings. The Youth Village is a tremendous resource, and I hope that it's full use, in the fullness of time will lead to more candidates for Ushaw.

Close It Down said...

I have also visited Ushaw and the Youth Village recently and would say that the Youth Village has no place whatsoever in the Church. For a start it is completely alien to Catholic culture where it has never been the policy to have single young men and women living on the same site; this is why, for example, we have monasteries and convents. Also, it is perfectly clear that the activities in the Village will not imbue the children with the Catholic faith, which is supposed to be its purpose. One only has to read the reports each month in the Northern Cross to see what kind of 'liturgical' activities the children are drawn in to. The emphasis is in simply on having a good time, which is all well and good if it was simply a campsite for youngsters, but this is not its purpose. If it is such a resounding success then where are the thousands of late teens and early twenties in our parish churches every Sunday who have been enthused with the faith during their visits? This is yet another example of woolly-headed thinking that confuses happy smiling faces of youngsters with instilling the faith into their hearts and minds. With all the millions being spent on this project has there been any cost-benefit analysis to see whether or not it is a success. From what I can see it is a place for jamborees and not a place where the faith is imparted. I do not question the sincerity of those actively involved, I just think it is wrong-headed and a very expensive white elephant. For a fraction of the cost all the children of the diocese could have been presented with a copy of the penny catechism.

Seeker said...

'Close it down' has a view of catholic cultue that seems very specific, and is not one I've come across in my 50 odd years of being a Catholic. I don't know to what extent he has been directly involved in bringing the faith to youngsters these days, but given that he feels so strongly, perhaps he would like to volunteer to help out at a confimation group, or spend time at the YV with the children. I have, and find myself richer in faith as a result.

Fr Jeff Stryker said...

English Pastor

1969 rising?

I very much doubt if Terry the Tory was in new York for the Stonewall Riot!

1569 Rising said...

Fr B....

I am all at a loss. Surely your contributor Fr Jeff Stryker cannot be in any way connected to THE Jeff Stryker, who I see from Google is a "performer" in gay, bisexual and straight "adult" films in America, best known for the epic "Can I be Your Bratwurst, Please"?

He teases English Pastor for his time lapse, confusing 1969 with 1569, but what is 400 years in the great scheme of things.

He then goes on to confuse us over General Stonewall Jackson's involvement in some riot in York in 1969 - difficult, since the Confederate General died in 1863 as a result of being shot by his own side during the Virginia Campaign.

He then refers to someone he seems to know called Terry the Tory, a right thinking kind of guy, I gather, who is apparently well known to my wife.

Clarification on the above points would be appreciated, please, Father Stryker.

Unknown said...

These images are a sad reflection on the administration of Ushaw.
They should actually be ashamed of themselves.
However are they slightly misleading as there was an uplifting short article in this weeks Catholic Herald about the apprentice of the year being an inspired young decorator from Crook in County Durham. It mentions the skills he employs at Ushaw, evidently not in Pugin's chapel.
Can the Pugin Society not help?

Fr Michael Brown said...

1569, I`m sorry about that comment. I get a few with somewhat dubious provenance but normally don`t let them through.

Em said...

Why not organize a Murmurers' raid to nick the statue because it really should not be just sitting there in that disgraceful mess?

If you can get the statue to Austria I have a beautiful church in mind as a refuge for it and no one would ever know.

Go on, there are enough of you!

1569 Rising said...


You must not apologise for allowing Rev Fr Stryker to post on this blog. It is good to know that the "adult actor" has seen the light and is now a clerical gentleman. I am touched. Terry the Tory, whom I have just seen, says he doesn't mind.

Intriguing subversive suggestions floating across the Alps from Em..
maybe we could "liberate" the statue, but I wouldn't fancy carrying it over the Alpine passes.
Unless others would help...?

ScepticalBeliever said...

Em, I don't want to cause any dispute between us (I have more than enough trouble with your father!) but when you write: 'If you can get the statue to Austria I have a beautiful church in mind as a refuge for it and no one would ever know' I must ask 'Why should anyone do that if "no one would ever know"? Might as well leave it where it is already neglected. But, maybe the Ushaw authorities (are there still any such people there?) would be happy to give it to anyone who asks for it since they (if they exist, of course) obviously have no use for it. It might then find a welcoming home at St Mary's, Forest Hall. And none of us would feel obliged to help carry it over the Alps.

Em said...

When I said "no one would ever know", I meant that no one would ever know it had been stolen from Ushaw not that it would be hidden away and never seen.
I was thinking of a pilgrimage church up in the mountains. It would fit in beautifully.
The major problem would not be getting it over alpine passes as we could sneak it in from the Salzburg direction and it is relatively flat, but dragging it up the last 300 m through the forest might be a problem.

1569 Rising said...

Em's suggestion of a final resting place at the splendid gold - encrusted Baroque Maria Kirchental at St Martin bei Lofer is very tempting, but the climb up through the forest is daunting, unless we can resurrect Robert Stephenson to build a rack and pinion railway. Sceptical Believer would no doubt come and give it a push.

None of you Murmurers have been moved to explain my reference to Sts Bassus, Fabius and Lucina. Have a look at any pre-Vat 2 Missal under May 11, and you will find..

May 11
Hexham and Newcastle (at Ushaw College only, St Aloysius' Chapel)
SS. Bassus and Fabius Martyrs.
S. Lucina Matron.

The relics of these three, plus numerous other bones and things were kept on the Holy Innocents Altar in the Junior House Chapel, behind silver (probably not real silver) doors above the altar. On the feast day, the doors were open to reveal the relics, including the skulls of the said Bassus and Fabius. One of the pictures on the linked site shows the niches where the relics were kept, including stands for the skulls. God knows where they are now. Look up Bassus etc on Google.

Fr John Abberton said...

I just discovered your blog. It's great to look at. I read the piece about Ushaw. I was there for one of the Latin Mass training weeks (last year) and wondered how I could get into the junior sem to see the chapel which I remembered as being very beautiful. I am grateful for the pictures, but obviously sad at what has (inevitably?) happened.
P.S. I left Ushaw in 1975. My 35th anniversary of ordination falls this Saturday

AngloSaxonHistory said...

Close it Down
You obviously don;t know about Anglo-Saxon monasteries that had nuns and monks on the same site eg Whitby?

ScepticalBeliever said...

AngloSaxonHistory, you are quite right, of course, but that was in the days when the church was not so obsessed with sex as it has been for the past 100+ years!

Em said...

1569 really has no idea how to commit a crime does he..... giving away the resting place of the stolen statue is just asking for trouble. Now we will have to have a plan B.

We have a martyr in our parish church as well, Hl. Gaudentius I think he is but I don't know anything about him unfortunately. He is lying in a glass coffin at a side altar and he looks rather small.

1569 Rising said...

But, nobody mentioned anything about a "stolen" statue, I prefer the term "liberated". There was talk at Dilston last night about hiring a helicopter from the Austrian Army to get it from the valley to the Church which must remain nameless. I understand Sceptical Believer is to open negotiations with the relevant authorities in Vienna, or maybe he was overcome by the clouds of incensce - for which he was responsible last night.

The Gaudentius languishing in the Church mentioned by Em does not appear in the Roman Martyrology, Butler's Lives of the Saints, or the Catholic Hub lists. Who is this small person in the glass coffin? We should be told - he may be a medieval squatter.

"Double" monasteries of men and women were a feature of Celtic Christianity, but fell out of favour following the Synod of Whitby. They were resurrected by St Bridget of Sweden in 1350, the first Abbey of Brigettine nuns and monks in England was established at Syon Abbey in Middlesex in 1415,
and was much criticised by Thomas Cromwell in 1535 for alleged, and unfounded charges of immorality - one of the justifications for the Suppression of the Monasteries in 1539.

Maybe Fr.B could tell us about the lodger in the glass coffin at St Martin bei Lofer

Sadie Vacantist said...

Leeds and Lancaster are no longer sending men to Ushaw. Strangely, Liverpool sent a theology graduate with a 1st class degree there rather than Rome. I can only assume that Kelly fears the impact of "Rome" on one of his boys (!) whereas Campbell and Roche evidently view Ushaw as no longer fit for purpose.

Anonymous said...

I think the same website that has pictures of Ushaw Junior Seminary also has pictures of Upholland College; equally sad (or more so) for those of us who spent our formative years there.

Lancaster Bomber said...

Very sad to see the state of the junior sem and chaple which are at least a grade II listed buildings if not Grade I! I also looked at some of the other pictures on the same site and it appears that the Tabernacle door was there in the pics of October 2009 but not in January 2010. I doubt the Ushaw people even know (or care)that it's gone. The place maybe unused but i can't abide people who feel it is their right to break in and steal things.

ps @Sadie, you need to double check your information... Bishop Campbell sent a man to Ushaw last year for the Diocese.