Nazareth House, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland
A Nazareth House was opened in around 1917 in a property formerly known as Sandyford Park, on Sandyford Road, Newcastle upon Tyne. Like other Nazareth Houses it housed destitute and orphan children — primarily Roman Catholic girls and younger boys.
A new building was opened at the site in 1939. Its opening, on March 24th, was the subject of a contemporary report:
The new Nazareth House here, a home for homeless children run by the Sisters of Nazareth, was opened today by Bishop McCormack who 22 years ago was their first chaplain in the city.
At that time the home had about half a dozen children. The new three stories high building will accommodate 120 to 140 girls.
Although relying entirely upon voluntary subscriptions, the development of the home, which includes a fine chapel, is costing well over £30,000. At the luncheon to-day Bishop McCormack made an urgent appeal to all Catholics to give practical support "to this magnificent work".
As a tribute to Bishop McCormack, who also blessed the new chapel and consecrated the altar this morning, the chapel — of which he laid the foundation stone last Whit-Monday — was dedicated to his patron, St. Joseph and to St. Teresa.
Holding 200 people, it has a deep vaulted roof supported by massive oak beams, with stone tracery windows and a medieval air of quiet. It is 90 feet long and 70 feet wide, and is joined at right angles to the feet new orphanage. High up on the roof outside is a bell tower.
At to-day's ceremony relics of two Roman Martyrs, Valerian and Innocentius, were sealed in the stone altar.
Over 100 priests were present. Various convents in Northumberland and Durham were represented.
The altar is the anonymous gift of a non-Catholic. It cost £400. From many pieces of stone it was built up by old Mr. Sutton of London, and his fellow-craftsman, Mr. Winch. For 40 years Mr. Sutton has travelled all over England building Altars. This one was one of his largest. It measures 17 feet high by 14 feet long and 10 feet deep.
Prior to the new orphanage being built the old home accommodated between 60 and 70 girls between the ages of five and 16 and at that was overcrowded. Owing to modern legal requirements it became necessary for a new orphanage to be built.
The new orphanage is three storeys high, and 175 feet long by 75 feet wide. Fire-proof floors have been laid, wood block and tile flooring also throughout. There is a huge fire-escape and there are fire alarms on each floor.
A feature is the great number of windows at back and front. On the ground floor are the refectory and -classrooms, on the second floor the dormitories and on the third floor isolation wards and dormitories.
The architect of the new buildings is Mr. J. Goldie, of London, a Catholic, who does a considerable amount of work for Nazareth Houses in England. Local firms co-operated with firms from various parts of the country in the erection of what is one of the finest group of buildings of its type in the country. General contractors were Messrs. Gordon Durham of Bolden. Messrs. Elders, Walker & Co., Gateshead, carried out the extensive glazing contract; while two other Gateshead firms, Messrs. Allinson and Sons Ltd., installed the internal and external plumbing; and Messrs. R. Kell of Springwell Quaries, supplied the local stone used in the Chapel.
The painting was entrusted to Messrs. J.W.Alder and Sons of Sunderland. Keen's cement was supplied by the Carlisle Plaster and Cement Co., whilst a special type of brick was supplied by Messrs. Williamson, Cliff Ltd., of Stamford. Plastering work was carried out by Messrs. R. W. Sanderson and Son, Newcastle.
The home closed in 1996 and then in 2000 became the Chapman House section of the Central Newcastle High School, now the Newcastle High School for Girls.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.
- Sisters of Nazareth Archive, Sisters of Nazareth Archive, Nazareth House, 169-175 Hammersmith Road, London W6 8DB. The archivist is Christine Hughes. The archive contains material from the very beginnings of the order in the 1850s up until the present day. The archive is not open to the public and does not have facilities for personal searchers, although exceptions can be made for Sisters and for academic researchers. Enquiries are welcomed by post only for privacy and confidentiality reasons and replies are by also letter. There is no fee for dealing with enquiries, although donations to the Sisters are appreciated.
- Fothergill, Anne Memoirs of a Nazareth House Girl (2013, Quoin Publishing). Memories of the Middlesbrough Nazareth House.
- Gray-Wilson, Shirley It isn't Always Raining: Children in Care, 1939-1948 (2000). Life in the Carlisle and Newcastle Nazareth Houses.
- Kelly, Judith Rock Me Gently: A Memoir Of A Convent Childhood (2006, Bloomsbury). A memoir of life at Bexhill Nazareth House in the early 1950s. The factual veracity of this book has been challenged, and charges of plagiarism levelled against the author (e.g. see Catholic Herald 2/9/2005). The introduction to the current edition of the book acknowledges some of these criticisms.
- Reilley, Frances Suffer The Little Children: The True Story of An Abused Convent Upbringing (2009, Orion). Memories of the Belfast Nazareth House.
- Nuns 'abused hundreds of children' (Guardian article 16/8/1998)
- Sisters of No Mercy (Guardian article 1/4/2003)
- Compensation for care homes abuse (BBC News item 15/8/2006)
- Sisters of Nazareth become second Catholic order to admit to child abuse (Guardian article 14/1/2014)
- Children at Derry care homes were made to eat vomit, inquiry told (Guardian article 27/1/2014)
- A Time for Penance? (BBC Scotland 'Frontline' TV feature on abuse in Scottish Nazareth Houses)
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