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Ushaw College buildings and grounds open to public from Saturday (From The Northern Echo)

A FORMER training college for priests for the Roman Catholic church is openings its doors to the public over coming months.

Ushaw College, a Roman Catholic seminary from inception in 1808 until the last trainees were consecrated in 2011, is considered a hidden gem, set in a large expanse countryside four miles west of Durham.

It has been linked with Durham University from 1968 and, since the last trainee priests left, its residential block has been used as overflow accommodation by both the university’s business school and more recently by Josephine Butler College.

Surrounded by 400-acres of picturesque grounds, between the villages of Ushaw Moor, Bearpark and Langley Park, the site includes Grade I and Grade II-listed buildings, including St Margaret’s Chapel and St Cuthbert’s Chapel, as well as an ornate exhibition hall and refectory.

All were built by English architect Augustus Pugin in the classic Gothic Renaissance style.

The charitable trust now running the former seminary was awarded a £3,000 grant towards the enhancement of its herbaceous borders in the formal gardens in front of the college.

Work also began restoring the 19th Century gardens last autumn with initially a 20-strong band of volunteers, swelled on occasions after a call for extra helping hands.

Roger Kelly, chair of the college’s concert and events group, which promotes use of the grounds and buildings, said it was the beginning of a bid to restore the site to its former glory.

“Already, since last September, a transformation has taken place.

“The overgrown borders have been weeded, saplings and briars cleared away, and the gift of 3,000 tulips has resulted in the central borders becoming a blaze of spring colour.”

Both the buildings and gardens are open to the public on Saturdays, from 12-noon to 5pm, with a gift shop and cafe running during those hours.

It includes entry to the chapels, refectory and exhibition hall, with admission free.

Over the next four weeks visitors will also have the chance to view the medieval chasuble, a vestment worn by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, during the recent funeral ceremonies for King Richard III in Leicester.

Tickets are available for a concert featuring the Durham-founded singing ensemble Renaissance in St Cuthbert’s College, at Ushaw, on Saturday, at 7.30pm.

They are available for £10 each from the box office at Durham’s Gala Theatre, but can also be bought on the door on the night.

via College buildings and grounds open to public from Saturday (From The Northern Echo).

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