This year St Mary's is commemorating 175 years of service as a place of Christian worship and sanctuary in our busy city.
Designed by Augustus Welby Pugin, opened in 1844 and paid for with 'the pennies of the poor', this church was built to address the needs of the rapidly increasing Catholic population of Newcastle which had been swollen by Irish immigrants in the first half of the 19th century.
In 1850 following the Restoration of the Hierarchy in England and Wales however, St Mary's was raised to Cathedral status becoming the Mother Church of the newly designated Diocese of Hexham ( later to be renamed the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle). Interestingly until the 1880s and despite being Roman Catholic, it was the first and only Cathedral in Newcastle.
As part of the Cathedral's 175th anniversary celebrations Eliot Smith Dance presented a wonderful evening of bold and exciting contemporary works on Wednesday 18 September in the Cathedral.
The dance works included "After the Rite", an interpretation of The Rite of Spring, looking at Death and Resurrection from a Christian perspective. And secondly, Portraits of Courage, revealing the inspiration of William Armstrong, Emily Wilding Davison and George Stephenson, and in addition a new portrait which revealed the personal courage and sacrifice of Oscar Romero.
The Cathedral is extremely grateful to Eliot Smith Dance for this amazing and thought-provoking evening which inspired and enthralled all those present.
As part of our 175th anniversary celebrations, we are delighted to welcome Dr Michael Johnson, Senior Lecturer in Design History at Northumbria University, to give a talk on Dunn and Hansom, the architects responsible for the design of the tower and steeple which were added to the Cathedral in 1872.
Many of you will already be aware that a spire was included in AWN Pugin’s original plans but when the church was nearing completion in 1844, it became apparent that there were insufficient funds to afford this luxury and it was twenty years later, through the generosity of Elizabeth Dunn, that the fine needle spire which we all recognise today was finally added.
Standing 222 ft high on the city’s skyline, St Mary’s Cathedral was for over a hundred years the tallest building in Newcastle, it now lies in fifth position. Come and join us on Monday, 23rd September at 6.30pm to find out more about this fascinating episode in the Cathedral’s story.
Tickets which cost £5.00 (this includes a complimentary glass of wine ) are on sale after the Sunday
Masses, from the Cloister Café and Pauline Books and Media, and will also be available on the door
Special Events that have taken place:
An Organ recital by Jonathan Scott took place in the Cathedral on 24th August at 7.00pm. Jonathan’s recent performances have included numerous solo recitals as well as concertos with the BBC Philharmonic, Orchestra of Opera North and Royal Scottish National Orchestra and solo appearances at the BBC proms. The Cathedral resonated to the powerful sound of the Cathedral organ played by Jonathan Scott as he presented a diverse and spectacular programme which highlighted the versatility of this magnificent instrument.
On Wednesday August 21st 2019 the Cathedral celebrated exactly 175 years of being a place of Christian worship in the city.
The midday Mass in the Cathedral on August 21st 2019 was a celebration of the Solemnity of the Dedication of a Cathedral, and following the Mass visitors enjoyed refreshments and viewed a slideshow of the early history of the Cathedral.
On Thursday July 11th the Cathedral was delighted to host the sixth Cardinal Hume Memorial Lecture delivered by Catherine Pepinster. Her chosen theme ’A migrant, pilgrimage people - how the Catholic revival shaped the Church today’ was most relevant to us both currently and historically, and indeed she crafted her talk
using many references from our own records. This was much appreciated by the audience who came from all corners of the diocese. A hugely successful evening, thoroughly enjoyed by all. Thank you again Catherine!
‘A migrant, pilgrimage people - how the Catholic revival shaped the Church today’
Listen to Lecture:
On Saturday 18 May we were open for the Late Shows where visitors spent time experiencing the beauty and history of the Cathedral. The evening was led by the extremely well informed Newcastle City Guides in the roles of Bishop Riddell, Fr Worswick, members of the Dunn Family and a soldier from the Tyneside Irish Brigade along with many others. It was a very memorable evening when visitors were also shown around the organ gallery and watched a ‘timeline’ slideshow of the Cathedral. The evening was very well attended and very much enjoyed by all those who came to visit. We extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to the city guides and to our own committed volunteers who worked hard to make the evening a success.
1844- 2019 Some Key Events in our history:
We are delighted to report that the evening of praise, worship and adoration, featuring a concert with Matt Maher followed by benediction, last Thursday evening was a resounding success. We were very honoured that we were chosen as only one of two venues in the whole of the UK to host a performance.