The Birmingham Oratory was founded by Blessed John Henry Newman on 1st February 1848. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Rome in 1847. In Rome he joined the Congregation of the Oratory founded in the 16th century by St Philip Neri later known as the Apostle of Rome. The Oratory in Birmingham was first established in Maryvale, then moved to a converted gin distillery in Digbeth, and finally settled at Edgbaston in 1852.
After Newman’s death in 1890 it was decided to replace the first Oratory church with a larger building as a memorial to him. The architect E. Doran Webb (1864-1931) was commissioned and the foundation stone was laid in 1903. The church is built in a classical style which evokes early Italian baroque and is an example of Edwardian baroque architecture.
The church was solemnly opened in 1909, but had been in use for three years before this. It was consecrated in 1920. The new church was built on top of the old church, with the old church remaining in use for a time, before it was dismantled and the remains removed to reveal the new church.
The total length of Doran Webb’s church is 198 feet, of which the Nave accounts for 152 feet: the total breadth is 57 feet of which the Nave is 45 feet. The ceiling rests directly upon an architrave and is tunnel-vaulted instead of the flat roof more usual in basilica-style buildings. Lighting is provided by dormer windows set into the roof and from four rectangular windows in the drum of the dome.
The Birmingham Oratory is a member of the Birmingham Heritage Forum
Oratory Church Restoration Fund
RESTORING THE CARDINAL NEWMAN MEMORIAL CHURCH
An architectural report on our house, church and related buildings in Spring 2012 confirmed that our beautiful church had suffered over the years from rain coming through the roof damaging not only the roof itself but also the interior of the church, including the mosaics and tiled floors. In November 2012, to help to finance these extensive works, which will ultimately cost in the region of £400,000 we began the Oratory Church Restoration Fund which to date has raised over £157,000.
In addition to fundraising, we also began seeking funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). In June 2016 we received confirmation that we had been successful in our bid to receive funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help restore the North Aisle Roof, which has suffered most from lead theft and related leaks over recent years. We have been awarded up to £74,800 which represent 64% of the projected cost of £117,400. We in turn will contribute just over £24,000 from the Church Restoration Fund. We envisage that the remainder will come from VAT rebates. We have already spent just under £8,000 from the Restoration Fund in architect’s fees for preparatory work on the North Aisle Project.
In partnership with the HLF, the north aisle roof has been restored. Unfortunately the central and south aisles have significant leaks. Furthermore, the rainwater damage especially to the apse mosaics and the tiles floors are significant. We offer our sincere thanks to all who have already contributed to the Oratory Church Restoration Fun.
We continue to rely on the generosity of parishioners, friends and benefactors. Please give whatever you can. It is always better if your donations can be Gift-Aided, so that we can reclaim the tax. The Fathers and Brothers offer holy Mass and pray regularly for the intentions of all our benefactors, living and departed.
MAKING A DONATION TO THE BIRMINGHAM ORATORY CHURCH RESTORATION FUND
There are two options, please make a single one off donation of your own choosing, or please consider a subscription option and make your support a regular monthly or annual payment.