The Visit of Pope Benedict XVI

Newman - the 'Southwark' connections

Papal Visit Broadcasts - TV, Radio, Internet

Where to welcome the Pope in London

Downloads and Links

Photos and Link to Speeches and Homilies


John Henry Newman - the 'Southwark' connection

John Henry Newman was born in 1801 - almost half a century before the restoration of the hierachy to England and Wales in 1850, which since 1688 had been under the pastoral care of Vicars Apostolic, personal emissaries of the Pope.

English and Welsh dioceses were established at the restoration of the hierachy - Southwark covered much of the south of England including the present dioceses of Arundel and Brighton and Portsmouth.

So to talk of Newman's association with the Southwark diocese during the first half of his life is an anachronism. But Newman would have been familiar with two places which are in the diocese.


During his childhood Newman's family spent time at a house in Ham, which is now part of Grey Court School.

Later in his life he looked back on his time at Ham as the happiest period.of his childhood. Ian Ker in his biography of Newman explains:

'But there was another Georgian house, the memory of which was still more importaint, the family's country house at Ham, Grey Court House near Ham Common (it still stands). John Henry was only 6 years old when the house was given up, but he never forgot the morning of September 1807 when they left it for good. As a schoolboy he dreamed about it 'as if it was Paradise'. His most vivid memory remained that of gazing 'at the windows of the room where I lay abed with candles in the windows in illumination for the victory of Trafalgar'.

When as a schoolboy he 'dreamed of heaven, the scene was Ham'. He returned to see the house again on several occasions: in 1813 with his father and brother, in 1836 and while on holiday from Birmingham in 1861.

He felt he knew more about the house than any other he had been in since and 'could pass an examination in it. It has ever been in my dreams'.

Information from 'John Henry Newman' - Ian Ker - Oxford - 1988


St George's Church, Southwark

St George's Church, Southwark, was designed by Pugin and its foundation stone was laid in 1840. Building was completed and it was officially opened by Bishop Wiseman in July 1848. It was not designated as a Cathedral until the restoration of the hierachy and the establishment of the Southwark diocese two years later.

John Henry Newman was ordained in Rome in May 1847 and after his Oratorian Noviciate he returned to England, arriving in London on Christmas Eve.

The first Mass that he offered and the first homily he preahed in England after his ordination was in St George's Church.  


A gift to Birmingham Oratory from Monsignor Charles Duchemin

The bust of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Birmingham Oratory was donated by a Southwark priest - Monsignor Charles Duchemin.

It was donated in memory of his father (also Charles Duchemin), who had been organist at the Birmingham Oratory and a friend of Cardinal Newman. Charles Ducheman Senior had also sung as a boy soprano at the opening of St Chad's Church in Birmingham in 1841. The church (like Southwark, designed by Pugin) became Birmingham's Cathedral in 1850.

Mgr Duchemin was born in 1886. He came to Wandsworth as a solicitor in 1911 and was greatly influenced by the parish priest of St Thomas a Becket - Fr (later Canon) John Cooney. As a result he decided that his real vocation was to be a priest and started his studies at the Beda College in Rome in 1914. He was ordained in 1918 and returned to England to work as an assistant priest in Peterborough. In 1921, he asked to be transferred to Southwark and was sent as assistant priest to his mentor, Fr Cooney, at West Hill, Wandsworth. After six years of untiring ministry at St Thomas', he was appointed a Monsignor and Rector of the Beda College where he himself had studied. He held this post for 33 years - a much loved and respected Rector. He died, aged 79, in 1965.

Information from 'This Most Extraordinary Mission: A History of the Parish of St Thomas of Canterbury, Wandsworth 1841 - 1991' - Richard Milward MA

The bust of Newman in Birmingham Oratory

Return to Southwark website homepage