St Mary's College, Oscott

Oscott College
St Mary's College, New Oscott

View of the college from the south
Oscott College
Location of college
Coordinates: 52°32′38″N 1°51′20″W / 52.543766°N 1.855451°W / 52.543766; -1.855451
OS grid reference SP0988894038
Location New Oscott, Birmingham
Country UK
Denomination Roman Catholic
Founded May 1794 (1794-05)[1]
Founder(s) Thomas Walsh
Dedication St Mary
Consecrated 29 May 1838
Associated people

Cardinal Wiseman
Bernard Griffin
Cardinal Newman

Thomas Williams
Status Theological college
Functional status Active
Heritage designation Grade II* Listed[2]
Designated 25 April 1952

Joseph Potter

A.W. Pugin
Style Gothic Revival
Groundbreaking 25 April 1836
Completed 31 May 1838
Construction cost £40,000
Parish Our Lady of the Assumption Maryvale
Deanery Birmingham (North)
Archdiocese Birmingham
Province Birmingham
Archbishop Most Rev. Bernard Longley
Rector Very Rev. Canon Dr David Oakley

St Mary's College in New Oscott, Birmingham, often called Oscott College, is the Roman Catholic seminary of the Archdiocese of Birmingham in England and one of the three seminaries of the Catholic Church in England and Wales;[3]


College chapel, designed by A. W. N. Pugin

Oscott College admits students for the priesthood from various dioceses of England and Wales, as well as some students from overseas. The first three years of the academic programme are validated by the University of Birmingham as a BA in Fundamental Catholic Theology. Those who complete the six-year programme also obtain an Bachelor of Sacred Theology (STB) through affiliation with the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.[4]

Oscott College is also the diocesan centre for the formation of candidates for the permanent diaconate within the Archdiocese of Birmingham.


Old Oscott

The college was founded in Oscott, in present-day Great Barr, in 1794 for both the training of priests and the education of lay pupils. It developed out of a small mission founded by Fr Andrew Bromwich around 1687.

New Oscott

In 1838 the college moved to a new site, which came to be known as New Oscott (and the original site as "Old Oscott"). The Maryvale Institute remains on the original site. The new building was designed by Augustus Pugin and Joseph Potter at a cost of £40,000. It is grade II* listed. The college quickly became a symbol of the rebirth of the Catholic faith in England and played a prominent part in the life of the Church in the 19th century. In 1889, the college was closed, but reopened the following year as a seminary only.

21st Century

After the closure of St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw, Durham, in 2011, many of the dioceses in the province of Liverpool sent their students to Oscott to complete their training. This gave a boost in numbers at the college at a time when vocations seemed to be scarce.[5]

Pope Benedict XVI visited on 19 September 2010 following the beatification, earlier that day in Birmingham's Cofton Park, of Cardinal Newman who stayed at the college in the late 1840s. During his visit to Oscott, Benedict met and had lunch with the Roman Catholic bishops of England, Scotland and Wales. The Oscott visit was the last scheduled event during the four-day 2010 State Visit of Benedict to the UK. The Pope would later depart the UK from Birmingham International Airport.

Choral music

A CD of choral music, Sedes Sapientiae, performed by The Schola and recorded live in the college's chapel on 7 June 2008, was released by the college (cat. no. OSCOTTCD01).[6]

Notable alumni





Former presidents and rectors



  • 1885-1890 Joseph Henry Souter
  • 1890-1896 Edward Ilsley
  • 1896-1924 Henry Parkinson
  • 1924-1929 Charles Cronin
  • 1929-1935 James Dey
  • 1935-1961 Leonard Emery
  • 1961-1968 Richard Foster
  • 1968-1979 Francis Thomas
  • 1979-1984 Patrick Kelly
  • 1984-1989 Michael Kirkham
  • 1989-1998 Patrick McKinney
  • 1998-2001 Kevin McDonald
  • 2001-2013 Mark Crisp
  • 2013- David Oakley[8]

Further reading


  1. Oscott History
  2. British Listed Buildings
  3. "Preparing Yourself". Portsmouth Catholic Diocese. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  5. UK Vocations Statistics
  6. Sedes Sapientiae CD insert
  7. List of Superiors, Masters and Students
  8. Williams Oscott College p. 183
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