The Birmingham Civic SocietyTree




Cardinal Newman

John Henry Newman converted to Catholicism in 1845 and moved his family of Oratarians to a former gin distillery in Alcester Street in 1849, ministering to the poor and living on salt beef and cod.

In 1852 they moved to Hagley Road where the order still remains. The presence of Newman, one of the country’s leading Catholic thinkers and writers gave the Oratory an international reputation.

Gerald Manley Hopkins was there as a novice priest in 1867, while JRR Tolkien stayed for some months in 1904 after the death of his mother. Edward Elgar was also resident whilst working on his musical setting of Newman’s Dream of Gerontius.

Newman became a Cardinal in 1879, 11 years before his death, but although his rooms at the Oratory are exactly as he left them the church itself was re-built as a memorial to him being completed in 1909.




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