Religious History: Religious Houses

A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7, the City of Birmingham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.

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, 'Religious History: Religious Houses', in A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7, the City of Birmingham, (London, 1964) pp. 403-405. British History Online [accessed 21 May 2024].

. "Religious History: Religious Houses", in A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7, the City of Birmingham, (London, 1964) 403-405. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024,

. "Religious History: Religious Houses", A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7, the City of Birmingham, (London, 1964). 403-405. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024,

In this section

Religious Houses


In 1876, at the invitation of Daniel Haigh, priest of the Erdington mission, and of Bishop Ullathorne, four Benedictines exiled from Beucon, Bavaria, came to settle at Erdington. They took over the mission and built the first part of their house in 1880. The house became an abbey in 1896 and there were about 40 professed monks there in 1912. From c. 1882 to c. 1886 the Benedictines conducted a grammar school (St. Thomas's) at Erdington. (fn. 1) In 1922 they returned to Germany and were succeeded at Erdington by Redemptorists, q.v. (fn. 2) The earliest range of buildings, completed in 1880, adjoin the church of St. Thomas and St. Edmund (fn. 3) and are built of stone in a similar 14thcentury style; the architect was 'Mr. Dempster'. A large extension, designed by Harry Haigh, nephew of the founder, was carried out in 1896-8. (fn. 4) The abbey was further enlarged in 1904.

Camillian Fathers.

About 1943 a house was established in Wellington Road, Perry Barr. (fn. 5) In 1954 there was a house of studies in Trinity Road, Aston. (fn. 6)


The convent of Carmelite nuns at 345, Church Road, Yardley, (fn. 7) was established by 1937. (fn. 8)

Christian Brothers, apparently conducted schools in Birmingham from 1846 to 1849. (fn. 9)

Dominicans (Third Order of Stone).

St. Agnes's Convent, Sutton Road, (fn. 10) was founded c. 1892. (fn. 11) From at least 1893 the nuns have taught in Erdington school, (fn. 12) and from at least 1900 have had an independent girls' day school. (fn. 13)


The history of the 17th-century Franciscan mission to Birmingham and of its successor at Edgbaston is dealt with above at p. 398.

Irish Sisters of Charity.

St. Anne's Convent, 47, Highfield Road, was founded in 1937 and since then the nuns have taught in Saltley school (The Rosary). (fn. 14)


St. Gabriel's Retreat House in Albert Road, Harborne, was founded c. 1939. (fn. 15)

Little Sisters of the Assumption.

The house in Greenfield Crescent, Edgbaston, was established by 1937. The nuns nurse the poor in their homes. (fn. 16)

Little Sisters of the Poor.

In January 1867 the Little Sisters of the Poor were said to have been established in the city barely four years. (fn. 17) They maintained a home for the aged poor in The Crescent. (fn. 18) About 1874 they moved to St. Joseph's Home, Queen's Park Road, Harborne. (fn. 19)

Marist Brothers.

A Marist was headmaster of the Rosary senior school from its opening in 1937. The Marist house at 34, Edmund Road, Saltley, was apparently established by 1946. (fn. 20)

Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Oblates of St. Mary were said (1850-1) to occupy Maryvale (Old Oscott), (fn. 21) although in 1952 they were said to have first appeared in England in 1852. (fn. 22) In 1938 they took over the parish of St. Anne, Alcester Street, with a house at 96, Bradford Street. (fn. 23)


After Newman's conversion, Bishop Wiseman, then President of Oscott College, invited him and his companions to settle in the old college buildings at Old Oscott, which Newman named Maryvale. Newman returned here from Rome as an Oratorian in 1847. (fn. 24) Late in 1849 the Oratory moved into Birmingham and was established in a former distillery in Alcester Street, where the Oratorians conducted a mission (fn. 25) and established a school. (fn. 26) In 1852 the Oratory moved to the Hagley Road, Edgbaston, where they established a mission. (fn. 27) They established poor schools here in 1856, (fn. 28) and in 1859 founded the Oratory School which later moved away and left their management. (fn. 29) The school buildings, fronting on Hagley Road, are of red brick with stone dressings and are designed in a simple and dignified version of the early Italian Renaissance style. About 1858 the Birmingham Oratory acquired a cottage at Rednal where Newman and other members were later buried. (fn. 30) About 1861 the Oratorians opened St. Philip Neri's orphanage for boys. (fn. 31)

Our Lady of Compassion.

The convent was established in 1905 at Wilton House, Warwick Road, Acock's Green. (fn. 32) The nuns taught in Holy Souls school until they moved to Olton in 1948. (fn. 33)


The Passionists established the Harborne mission and St. Mary's Retreat in 1870. (fn. 34) They lived at first in cottages adjoining the temporary church. In 1874 they bought their house in Vivian Road, Harborne. (fn. 35) They established a poor school in 1871. (fn. 36)

Poor Sisters of Nazareth.

Nazareth House, Upland Road, Selly Park, was established c. 1910 as a home for little girls, conducted by Poor Sisters of Nazareth. (fn. 37) Between then and 1954 the Poor Sisters moved to Nazareth House, Rednal. (fn. 38)


In 1922 Redemptorists took over Erdington Abbey and the conduct of the mission there from the Benedictines. (fn. 39)

School Sisters of Notre Dame had settled in Birmingham at 62, Hyde Road, by 1874. They conducted the Oratory girls' school until 1882, when the Hyde Road house appears to have been closed. They also conducted St. Peter's girls' school until c. 1880, when it was apparently taken over by a second house which had opened in The Crescent, Birmingham, where there had formerly been a home run by Little Sisters of the Poor, q.v. (fn. 40) By 1884 this house had apparently moved to Nos. 3 and 4, St. Peter's Place. The nuns also conducted a 'middle-class school' in 1885. (fn. 41) The house seems to have closed by c. 1900. (fn. 42)

Sisters of Charity of St. Paul.

St. Paul's Convent, Selly Park, was founded in 1864 when the mother house of the order in England moved to Selly Hall from Banbury. (fn. 43) A new chapel was built c. 1915. (fn. 44) The nuns have conducted Selly Park school (St. Edward's) since its opening. (fn. 45) There was already a convent of the order in central Birmingham when the mother house was established at Selly Park. The Sisters of Charity of St. Paul replaced the Sisters of Mercy at the Convent of St. Chad, Bath Street, in 1853, and took over St. Chad's (fn. 46) School and possibly St. John's (fn. 47) from them at the same time. In 1865 the convent moved to Whittall Street. (fn. 48) By 1854 the nuns were conducting a training school for schoolmistresses; (fn. 49) this seems to have been discontinued later in the century, but was resumed as a pupil-teacher centre in 1901. (fn. 50) They also ran a 'middle-class school' for girls. (fn. 51) For a year or two c. 1856 they also conducted Erdington school. (fn. 52) When the Vernon Road convent (see below) was established it took over the teachers' training school and the playing school. By 1954 St. Chad's Convent was in St. Mary's Row. (fn. 53) By 1870 another convent, St. Joseph's, was established in Nechells; the nuns had conducted the school there since its opening in 1868. (fn. 54) The convent was apparently originally in Long Acre, but by 1908 was in Nechells Park Road. (fn. 55) By 1874 Sisters of Charity of St. Paul were apparently conducting St. Michael's girls' school, though part at least of these had formerly been managed by Sisters of Mercy. (fn. 56) The Sisters of Charity had a convent at 43, New Bartholomew Street, presumably in connexion with St. Michael's School, by 1885. (fn. 57) This seems to have been closed by 1890, and the St. Michael's school was given up to lay teaching. (fn. 58) Another house in Bristol Street also seems to have existed for a short while at about this time, in connexion with St. Catherine's School, which was apparently conducted by Sisters of Charity from before 1890 to c. 1904. (fn. 59) St. Vincent's Convent, now in Great Brook Street but apparently at first in Ashted Row, was also established between 1885 and 1887 and from then on the sisters taught in St. Vincent's School. (fn. 60) In 1908 the pupil-teacher centre at Whittall Street was moved to Vernon Road, Edgbaston, where it was expanded to a high school (fn. 61) and another house of Sisters of Charity was established to manage it. (fn. 62) The independent school at Whittall Street was also replaced by a girls' preparatory school at Vernon Road. (fn. 63) By 1908 the Sisters of Charity also conducted St. Augustine's School at Handsworth, and a house in Oxhill Road was opened in 1923. (fn. 64) This was closed in 1956 but the nuns continued to teach at the school. There is another house of the order in Woodland Road, Northfield, whose nuns teach in St. Brigid's School, Northfield. (fn. 65) The Sisters of Charity of St. Paul also care for the household of the archbishop in Edgbaston (fn. 66) and manage a maternity home in Raddlebarn Road, Selly Oak, and a guest house for elderly Roman Catholics in Wake Green Road, Moseley. (fn. 67)

Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul.

In 1895 this order established a night-refuge, servants' home and registry office at St. Anthony's Home, Bath Street. (fn. 68) In c. 1909 and c. 1911 the girls' home here was replaced by new ones opened in Vicarage Road, Edgbaston, and Gravelly Hill, Erdington. The sisters left in central Birmingham were engaged in general parochial work. (fn. 69) They moved to Shadwell Street in c. 1911, though the night shelter in Bath Street remained open for some years. (fn. 70) By 1954 the Shadwell Street and Vicarage Road houses were closed, but there were Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul at St. Philip's boys' home, Edgbaston, and at 33, Princip Street, where they managed a working-girls' hostel. The sisters have also conducted the Oratory girls' school since 1919. (fn. 71)

Sisters of Christian Schools.

St. John's Convent, Park Road, Moseley, was founded in c. 1906. (fn. 72) The sisters have a girls' day school. (fn. 73)

Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus.

The Convent of the Holy Child Jesus was established at 59, Hagley Road in c. 1881. The sisters replaced the School Sisters of Notre Dame in the teaching of the Oratory girls' school, which they gave up to the Sisters of Mercy in c. 1886. (fn. 74) They also had an independent girls' school. (fn. 75) By 1885 the house was at 119, Hagley Road. About 1886 this convent appears to have closed. (fn. 76) By 1952 there was a convent of the Holy Child Jesus, with a girls' school attached, in Sir Harry's Road, Edgbaston. (fn. 77) Nuns of this order and apparently from this house also conducted the primary school (Our Lady and St. Rose) at Weoley Castle in 1954. (fn. 78)

Sisters of Mercy.

In 1840 John Hardman founded a house of Sisters of Mercy which opened with his daughter as superioress in the following year. (fn. 79) This was the first religious house established in Birmingham since the Reformation. St. Mary's Convent is in Hunters Road, Handsworth. (fn. 80) When it first opened there was attached to it a girls' boarding school as well as an orphanage to replace the small Roman Catholic orphanages which had been maintained in the town since 1832. (fn. 81) A house of mercy was added in 1844 and a second chapel was built in 1847. (fn. 82) In 1847 a branch house was established at Bath Street (see below) and the nuns there probably took over from the mother house the teaching of St. Chad's and St. Philip's schools. (fn. 83) In 1850 St. Mary's opened its own school (fn. 84) at Handsworth and for a short time had a teachers' training school as well. (fn. 85) In 1851 the orphanage was removed to Maryvale (see below). In c. 1865-70 Sisters of Mercy, whether of this house or of one of the two daughter houses, taught in Erdington school and from c. 1886 (fn. 86) to 1918 in the Oratory girls' school. (fn. 87) In 1884 the boarding school was converted into a home for Roman Catholic girls from the Birmingham workhouse. (fn. 88) The nuns continued, however, to conduct a girls' day school. (fn. 89) The original buildings in Hunter's Road, of red brick with stone dressings, were designed by A. W. N. Pugin in a simple early Tudor style. The smaller and earlier chapel is a rectangular building with an open timber roof and fitted stalls with misericords. The second chapel, opened in 1847, was bombed in 1942 and was found to be too badly damaged for restoration. It was 14th-century in style and had a square tower of two stages and a nave with a north aisle only. Internally there were open timber roofs, a nave arcade supported on octagonal piers, and much painted decoration. (fn. 90) A new chapel was built in the late 1950s.

The daughter house, St. Anne's, in Bath Street became an independent house a few years later. In 1852 St. Anne's moved to the former Oratory in Alcester Street where they opened a girls' convent school. At the same time they gave up St. Chad's School to the Sisters of Charity of St. Paul who succeeded them in the Bath Street house, (fn. 91) and also probably at the same time, they undertook St. Anne's School, where they continued to teach until after 1885. (fn. 92) From Alcester Street the convent moved c. 1859 to Lowe Street. (fn. 93) In 1853 the sisters were teaching in St. Philip's School, in 1865 St. Nicholas's School, in 1872 St. Michael's, (fn. 94) and in 1885 St. Catherine's. (fn. 95) The independent girls' school was evacuated to Alton (Staffs.) in 1939 and later severely damaged by bombing. It was closed in 1945. (fn. 96) The orphanage which was moved to Maryvale in 1851 occupied the buildings there which had been successively Oscott College and the first home of the Oratory. (fn. 97) The sisters there also established an elementary school by 1882. (fn. 98) There was also a convent school conducted by the Sisters of Mercy in Albert Road, Harborne, in 1912-18. (fn. 99)

Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge.

St. Mary's Refuge, Bristol Road, was established by the order in 1905 as a home for young women and girls. (fn. 100)

Sisters of the Retreat of the Sacred Heart.

A retreat house of the order was opened in Wheeley's Road, Edgbaston, in 1912. (fn. 101) By 1954 it had moved to Harborne Hall. (fn. 102)


  • 1. See p. 537.
  • 2. Cath. Cal. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1912); Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1951).
  • 3. See p. 409.
  • 4. [Dom Bede Camm], The Church and Abbey of Erdington, 1850-1900 (B.R.L. 153190), 41-42.
  • 5. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1944).
  • 6. Ibid. (1954).
  • 7. Ibid. (1937).
  • 8. Ibid. (1954).
  • 9. Cath. Dir. (1846-9).
  • 10. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954).
  • 11. Cath. Dir. (1893).
  • 12. See p. 501.
  • 13. Cath. Cal. Dir. Dioc. Birm. (1900); Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954), 190.
  • 14. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1938, 1954); see p. 527.
  • 15. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1940, 1941, 1954).
  • 16. Ibid. (1937, 1954).
  • 17. Hist. of St. Chad's (1904), 44.
  • 18. Cath. Dir. (1866-9).
  • 19. Ibid. (1875); Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954).
  • 20. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1938, 1946, 1954).
  • 21. Cath. Dir. (1850, 1851).
  • 22. Cath. Year Book (1952).
  • 23. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1939, 1940, 1954).
  • 24. Ward, Life of Wiseman, i. 437-65.
  • 25. Butler, Life of Ullathorne, i. 154-7.
  • 26. See p. 528.
  • 27. Greaney, Guide to St. Chad's, 27. For their church there see p. 406.
  • 28. See p. 525.
  • 29. Cath. Year Book (1952).
  • 30. W. P. Ward, Life of Newman, i. 443; ii. 323.
  • 31. Cath. Dir. (1862), 259.
  • 32. Cath. Cal. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1912).
  • 33. Ex. inf. the Diocesan Archivist; see p. 518.
  • 34. Cath. Dir. (1870); Almanack for Dioc. Birm. 1885; for the church see p. 408.
  • 35. Cath. Cal. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1912).
  • 36. See pp. 408, 533.
  • 37. Cath. Dir. (1911); Cath. Cal. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1912).
  • 38. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954), 87.
  • 39. Ibid. (1951).
  • 40. Cath. Dir. (1874, 1880, 1881, 1882); see pp. 525, 536.
  • 41. Cath. Dir. (1884); Almanack for Dioc. Birm. 1885.
  • 42. Cath. Dir. (1900, 1903).
  • 43. Cath. Year Bk. (1952); Cath. Dir. (1865).
  • 44. Cath. Dir. (1915), 345.
  • 45. Ibid. (1876, 1954); see p. 530.
  • 46. Hist. of St. Chad's (1904), 118-21; see p. 529.
  • 47. Conducted by Sisters of Mercy 1852 (Mins. of Educ. Cttee. of Counc. [1624], p. 735, H.C. (1852-3), xxx) and by Sisters of Charity by 1877: Greaney, Guide to St. Chad's, 28; see p. 531.
  • 48. Hist. of St. Chad's (1904), 121.
  • 49. Cath. Dir. (1854).
  • 50. See p. 535.
  • 51. Almanack for Dioc. Birm. 1885.
  • 52. Cath. Dir. (1856, 1857); see p. 501.
  • 53. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954).
  • 54. Cath. Dir. (1870); see p. 531.
  • 55. Almanack for Dioc. Birm. 1885; Kelly's Dir. Birm. (1908).
  • 56. Greaney, Guide to St. Chad's, 28; Jones, Dir. Birm. (1865); Cath. Dir. (1876, 1886); see p. 534.
  • 57. Almanack for Dioc. Birm. 1885.
  • 58. Cath. Dir. (1890).
  • 59. Ibid. (1890, 1900, 1903, 1905); see p. 529.
  • 60. Almanack for Dioc. Birm. 1885; Cath. Dir. (1887); Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1952); see p. 537.
  • 61. See p. 535.
  • 62. Cath. Cal. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1912).
  • 63. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954).
  • 64. Cath. Dir. (1910); ex. inf. the Diocesan Archivist; see p. 528.
  • 65. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954); see p. 529.
  • 66. Cath. Year Bk. (1952).
  • 67. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954).
  • 68. Hist. of St. Chad's (1904), 121-2; Cath. Dir. (1896), 477.
  • 69. Cath. Dir. (1910, 1912); Cath. Cal. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1912), 170-1.
  • 70. Ibid.; Tablet, 21 Jan. 1921, p. 156.
  • 71. Ex. inf. the Diocesan Archivist; see p. 525.
  • 72. Cath. Dir. (1907, 1910, 1913).
  • 73. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954).
  • 74. Cath. Dir. (1882, 1886); see p. 525.
  • 75. Almanack for Dioc. Birm. 1885.
  • 76. Cath. Dir. (1885, 1886).
  • 77. Cath. Year Bk. (1952).
  • 78. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954); see p. 525.
  • 79. Greaney, Guide to St. Chad's, 24.
  • 80. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954).
  • 81. Cath. Dir. (1840), 117; Greaney, Guide to St. Chad's, 25.
  • 82. Kiernan, Story of Archdiocese of Birm. 34.
  • 83. See pp. 529, 536.
  • 84. See p. 533.
  • 85. Kiernan, Story of Archdioc. Birm. 34.
  • 86. Cath. Dir. (1865-70).
  • 87. Ex. inf. the Diocesan Archivist; see pp. 501, 525.
  • 88. Kiernan, Story of Archdioc. Birm. 34.
  • 89. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954).
  • 90. National Buildings Record, photographs taken early in 1942; ex. inf. the Mother Superior. For the church see p. 408.
  • 91. Hist. of St. Chad's (1904), 119; see p. 529.
  • 92. Cath. Dir. (1874); Almanack for Dioc. Birm. 1885.
  • 93. Greaney, Guide to St. Chad's, 25.
  • 94. See p. 534.
  • 95. Jones, Dir. Birm. (1865); Almanack for Dioc. Birm. 1885; see p. 529.
  • 96. Ex. inf. the Diocesan Archivist.
  • 97. Greaney, Guide to St. Chad's, 25.
  • 98. See p. 523.
  • 99. Cath. Cal. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1912); Cath. Dir. Prov. Birm. (1918).
  • 100. Cath. Cal. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1912); Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954).
  • 101. Cath. Dir. (1913), 307-8.
  • 102. Cath. Dir. Archd. Birm. (1954).