Chapels: Roman Catholic

Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


Eneas Mackenzie, 'Chapels: Roman Catholic', Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827), pp. 362-366. British History Online [accessed 15 June 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "Chapels: Roman Catholic", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 362-366. British History Online, accessed June 15, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "Chapels: Roman Catholic", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 362-366. British History Online. Web. 15 June 2024,


LONG after the suppression of the monasteries by king Henry VIII. a great portion of the people of Northumberland and Durham continued to regret the change, and to adhere steadily to "the ancient faith." As there were many religious houses and hospitals in Newcastle, it is probable that the friars and chaplains possessed considerable influence, and that a great part of the inhabitants here also retained their attachment to the proscribed religion of their fathers. This feeling, during the reign of queen Elizabeth, was opposed by ruinous fines for recusancy, and by inflicting the cruellest punishments upon the priests who professed the Roman Catholic faith. Agreeably to this unchristian policy, three missionary priests suffered death in Newcastle upon Tyne, for performing their priestly functions (fn. 1) It being so dangerous and criminal to profess the Catholic religion, it cannot be surprising that there exist no records of its state in this town from the Reformation to the reign of James II. who, being a Catholic, suspended the penal laws against them.

Prior to the Revolution, the chapel belonging to the secular clergy was in the White Hart Yard, in the Flesh Market. In this chapel a sermon was preached before Sir William Creagh, knight, mayor, and the rest of the corporate body, by the Rev. Phil. Metcalfe, a Jesuit, one of the chaplains of king James II. and who appears to have been at that time on a visit to Newcastle, on the 29th of January, 1688, being the day of public thanksgiving for the queen having proved with child. (fn. 2) The priest of this chapel appears to have removed, shortly after the Revolution, to a house in the Nuns, which was broken into, and much of the furniture destroyed, by a mob, on the 28th of January, 1746, being the day on which William Duke of Cumberland arrived at Newcastle, on his way to Scotland, to combat the army of Prince Charles. The corporation, to shew their displeasure at this wanton outrage, offered a reward of £50 for the discovery of the offenders. At this time, the Rev. Thomas Gibson was the incumbent. He was the successor of the Rev. Thomas Ward, who, from the best accounts, appears to have been the first Catholic clergyman regularly established in this town after the Revolution. After the above occurrence, a room in Bell's Court, Newgate Street, was fitted up for a chapel. This room was for some years the Free Masons Lodge, and is now occupied as the library of the Literary, Scientific, and Mechanical Institution. (fn. 3) Mr. Gibson died January 26, 1764; and was succeeded, on the 10th June, 1765, by the Rev. Charles Cordell, who died January 26. 1791. (fn. 4) The Rev. J. Jones, who is now chaplain to the Right Hon. the Earl of Newburgh, at Hassop in Derbyshire, was the next priest who took charge of this chapel. He was succeeded, in June, 1795, by the Rev. James Worswick.

There was also a Roman Catholic chapel in the mansion-house of the Riddells at Gateshead, and which was served by Jesuit clergymen. An ill-judging mob set fire to this chapel, as a compliment to the Duke of Cumberland, while he passed through Gateshead. The clergyman, the Rev. Mr. Walsh, fled to Felling Hall, the seat of the grandfather of the late C. J. Brandling, Esq. of Gosforth, whose family at that time were Catholics. Shortly after, Mr. Walsh removed to a house in the Close, Newcastle, once the residence of the celebrated loyalist, Sir John Marley. This house was afterwards part of the premises of the Northumberland Glass Company, which were burnt down in 1821: and the scite is now occupied by part of the extensive soapery of Messrs. Doubleday and Easterby.

Thus there were two Roman Catholic chapels in Newcastle; the one served by secular clergymen, and the other by Ex-Jesuits. (fn. 5) Mr. Walsh died in 1775, and was interred in St. Nicholas' church-yard. He was succeeded by the Rev. William Warrilow, from Ellingham in Northumberland, who shortly afterwards removed from the Close to premises at the foot of Westgate Street, and fitted up a chapel at the top of his house. For, from the time of Elizabeth (excepting the reign of James II.) to the year 1778, when the first relaxation of the penal law against the English Roman Catholics took place, it was unsafe to open public chapels. All the chapels in this town, as well as other parts of the kingdom, were only rooms in the dwelling-houses of the residentiary chaplains. Mr. Warrilow, whose correct and impressive eloquence is remembered by many, died on November 18, 1807, and was interred in St. John's church-yard, beside his brethren, Mr. Gibson and Mr. Cordell.

On the death of Mr. Warrilow, the lease of his house and chapel was sold, and his congregation was incorporated with the one under the charge of the Rev. J. Worswick, who, in 1797, purchased the convenient premises in Pilgrim Street, which were the property and residence of Richard Keenlyside, Esq. surgeon. The front house the incumbent appropriated to his own use; and on the back grounds, near Erick-burn, he erected the present chapel. (fn. 6) It is dedicated to St. Andrew, and was opened on Sunday the 11th of February, 1798; on which occasion a solemn High Mass was celebrated, being, it is supposed, the first performed in Newcastle since the Reformation. (fn. 7) The chapel in Bell's Court, Newgate Street, was now discontinued. The new chapel is a brick building. It is 85 feet in length, 35½ feet in breadth, and 24 feet in height, and is lighted by six large Gothic windows on the south side. At the west end is a large gallery, in which a fine-toned organ, built by Donaldson, was placed in 1802. In 1808, the chapel was enlarged 13½ feet; and, in 1826, the gallery was enlarged 8 feet; so that now one thousand persons may be accommodated with seats. (fn. 8) The altar is placed in an alcove, which is ornamented by a beautiful painting of the Crucifixion, by Maria Casway. Below the east end of the chapel is a charity-school for girls, and in the yard another for boys. Underneath is a correct representation of the altar of this chapel. (fn. 9)


  • 1. Queen Elizabeth attempted to extirpate the Catholic' priests from the land. It was death for a priest to be found in England, death to harbour him, and death for him to exercise his functions. About the 20th year of her reign, the old priesthood was nearly extinct. At this time, William Allen, a graduate of Oxford, undertook to frustrate her majesty's project. He formed a college at Douay, in Flanders, for the education of English priests; and his establishment soon consisted of 150 members. The queen's council, however, prevailed on the governor of the Netherlands to dissolve this college; but the fugitives found an asylum at Rheims, under the protection of the princes of Guise. This determined queen Elizabeth to inflict capital punishment upon all the missionaries sent from the English college into this kingdom. In 1609, the members of this college returned to Douay, and continued there until 1793. At Rheims, the college, in 1582, published an English translation of the New Testament; and at Douay, in 1609–10, the Old Testament. The following are the priests mentioned above, who suffered in this town:—1. Edward Waterson, a native of London. Commercial pursuits brought him into Turkey, where he refused a tempting offer to renounce Christianity. When at Rome, on his return homewards, he joined the Catholic church, and then entered the English college at Rheims, where he lived for some years. Being sent upon the English mission, he was apprehended, tried, and condemned. He was hanged, bowelled, and quartered, at Newcastle upon Tyne, January 7, 1593. (From Dr. Champney's manuscript history, and from a MS. relation of his death sent over to Douay by Archdeacon Trollop.) 2. Joseph Lampton, of the ancient family of Lampton, of South Biddick, com. Durham, (afterwards called Lambton, but now extinct,) was also educated at the college at Rheims, from whence he went to the English college at Rome in 1589. Being ordained a priest, he was sent to England, where he was immediately apprehended, tried, and condemned. He suffered at Newcastle in the flower of his age, and in sight of his friends and relatives, on July 27, 1593. Being cut down alive, a felon attempted to rip him up; but his heart failed him, and he chused rather to die than go on with the operation. A butcher from a neighbouring village was then prevailed upon by the sheriff to execute the cruel sentence. (Challoner's Memoirs of Missionary Priests, vol. i. page 159.) 3. John Ingram, a Protestant gentleman of Warwickshire, having embraced the Catholic religion, was ejected from the college of Oxford for recusancy. After studying both at Douay and Rome, he was made priest, and sent to England. Being apprehended on the borders of Scotland, he was sent to the Tower of London, and tortured, in order to extort from him the names of those who had entertained him. Remaining firm, he was sent back to the north for trial, and suffered at Newcastle with great constancy, July 25, 1594. (See Challoner's Memoirs, vol. i. page 171.) From this authority it appears that the priest said to have been executed at Newcastle, page 23 of this volume, suffered at Durham. On this subject see also Lingard's Hist. of England, vol. v. page 371 et seq. 4th ed.
  • 2. This sermon was published, and a copy of it was lately presented to Mr. Anthony Hodgson, of this town, by the ladies of the ancient English Benedictine convent at Hammersmith near London, formerly of Dunkirk in French Flanders. On the accession of James II. the magistracy of this town shewed equal respect to Churchmen, Catholics, and Nonconformists. See page 47. The following extract from the register of St. Andrew's, in this year, shew the courtly pliability of corporate politics:—"Paid for ringing for the queen's conception, 1s. 4d." The subsequent entry almost immediately follows:—"Paud for bells ringing for deliverance from popery, 1s. 4d.!"
  • 3. These premises were the property of the Catholic body, and were sold by the Rev. James Worswick to the late Mr. John Bell, of this town, bookseller and land-surveyor. In the window of the confessional (a small room below the library) were several panes of painted glass; in particular, the arms, crest, &c. of the Dilston and Cartington families. The buildings down this yard, previous to their being rebuilt by the late Mr. John Bell, were of great antiquity, and, during the rebellion, had been used as magazines or storehouses; for which purpose they were also used in the early part of the American war. When taken down, the chimneys (as also the windows, &c.) were found strongly secured with iron bars, to prevent either the egress or regress of individuals; but whether this had been done at the time of the rebellion, or when in the possession of the Catholics, cannot now be ascertained. Several querns and other pieces of antiquity were found in digging the foundations of the present building. The old front building was said to have been the town's residence of the unfortunate Earl of Derwentwater.
  • 4. Mr. Cordell was a man of considerable literary attainments. During his residence in Newcastle, he translated the following works from the French:—Deism self-refuted, by Bergier, being an answer to Rousseau's Emilius, 12mo. Newcastle, 1775.—The Life of Pope Clement the 14th, by the Marquis of Carrociole, 8vo. Newcastle, 1776—(From the same) The Letters of Pope Clement 14th, 2 vols. 8vo. Newcastle, 1779.—The Travels of Reason (by the same), 8vo. Newcastle, 1781.—The Manners of the Christians and the Israelites, from the French of Abbe Fleury, 2 vols. 18mo. Newcastle, 1786. He also compiled two editions of the Divine Office, for the use of the laity, being the Church Office for the whole year, in Latin and English; the first edition in 4 volumes, printed at Sheffield in 1763, and the second at Newcastle in 1780. His valuable library, after his decease, was sold by the late John Bell, of this town, bookseller.
  • 5. The priests of the Society of Jesus were denominated "Ex-Jesuits" after the canonical dissolution of the society, in the pontificate of Clement XIV. A. D. 1773.
  • 6. Towards the building of this chapel, the late Sir John Lawson, Bart, of Brough Hall, co. of York, contributed £80; John Silvertop, Esq. of Minsteracres, £80; Thomas Riddell, Esq. of Swinburn Castle, £100; John Errington, Esq. of Beaufront, £50; Bishop Gibson, V.A.N.D. £100. The rest of the expense, except a few trifling subscriptions, was paid by the Rev. J. Worswick.
  • 7. Several French emigrant clergymen assisted. The choir was composed of the Rev. John Yates, of Esh, near Durham, now vicar general of the county of Durham; the Rev. John Bell, author of the Wanderings of the Human Intellect, published in Newcastle in 1814; the Rev. Thomas Lupton, now at Garswood in Lancashire; the Rev. George Barrett; and the Rev. Basil Barrett, author of the Life of Cardinal Ximenes, published in Newcastle, 1813. All these gentlemen were then students at Crook Hall College, and had been prisoners in France. During the reign of terror in France in 1793, the English Secular Roman Catholic College at Douay in French Flanders was seized by the Revolutionary army, and the professors and students sent to prison. In 1794, they escaped to England, and a part of them established a seminary at Crook Hall, in the co. of Durham, an ancient seat belonging to George Baker, Esq. of Elemore. Here they continued till July, 1808, when they removed to the newly-built college at Ushaw, near the city of Durham. The Rev. Thomas Eyre, who died in 1810, was the first president and professor of divinity; and the learned and Rev. John Lingard, D. D. author of Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon church, and of the History of England, now publishing, was the first vice-president and professor of philosophy, which situation he filled until 1810, when he removed to the Mission at Hornby in Lancashire.
  • 8. The following memorandum from Dr. Ellison's MSS. is given by Brand:—"The number of the papists in Northumberland, as they were returned into the House of Lords 1705: St. Nicholas' in Newcastle, 15; St. Andrew's there, 12; St. John's there, 20." All Saints' is not mentioned. In November, 1723, the town of Newcastle gave public notice for all Papists to take the oaths of allegiance to his majesty, and for this purpose adjourned the sessions. The Catholics in Newcastle at present are more numerous than at any other period since the Revolution. This may be attributed partly to the many converts which have lately joined their church, but principally to the increased number of Irish Catholics and foreigners that now reside in this town.
  • 9. Dr. Thomas Watson, of Lincoln, who was the last Catholic bishop ordained in England previous to the reign of queen Elizabeth, died in prison in 1584. His death placed the English Catholic church in the state of a foreign mission, under the Holy See, who placed the secular clergy under an arch-priest, the Rev. George Blackwell, with episcopal jurisdiction. This authority continued till 1623, when Dr. Bishop was consecrated bishop of Chalcedon, and placed at the head of the English Catholic church. He was succeeded, in 1625, by Dr. Richard Smith, president of the English college at Rome, who was likewise appointed bishop of Chalcedon. He died in 1655, when no successor being appointed, the chapter assumed episcopal jurisdiction, which they exercised until 1685, when Dr. Leyburn was appointed vicar apostolic; and, in the following year, the kingdom was divided into four districts, viz. the London, Western, Midland, and Northern; and this ecclesiastical government has continued to the present time. The Northern District includes Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Yorkshire, Lancashire, and the Isle of Man, over, which the Right Rev. Dr. Thomas Smith, bishop of Bolina, and vicar apostolic, now presides. He resides at Brooms, near Lanchester, co. of Durham. The vicars apostolic are appointed by the Pope, being first recommended by the clergy of the district, and retain the titles of bishops of ancient sees in Asia, now extinct.