About - Maryvale's History

An account of the history and heritage of Maryvale House and Institute

An Historic Spiritual Environment for Academic Work

Maryvale Institute, Early 20th Century

Maryvale occupies a unique place in the history of the Catholic Church in England. Catholic worship has been celebrated continuously on the site for over 1000 years. The oldest part of the present building, originally called Oscott House, was the home of the Bromwich family, and the base for the local Catholic mission during the 17th and 18th centuries. Andrew Bromwich was one of the last priests to be imprisoned towards the end of the penal period, and when he inherited the family house he gave it over for the use of the Church as the English mission emerged from the shadows with the gradual relaxation of the anti-Catholic laws.

From 1794 to 1838 it became the first seminary established in England and, being placed under the patronage of Our Blessed Lady, became known as St Mary’s College, Oscott. When the seminary was relocated to a new and larger building in 1838 (in the area of Birmingham that is still called New Oscott) it was used as a school until in 1846 it became the home of St John Henry Newman and his community of fellow converts. Following ordination in Rome, he established the first English Oratory there and renamed the house Maryvale.

After the Oratory moved to central Birmingham, Maryvale briefly became the novitiate for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and was visited by their founder, St Eugene de Mazenod. Then for nearly 130 years it housed an orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy until they left in 1980 when it assumed its present role as an institute for adult faith formation.

Maryvale Chapel around Newman's time

Maryvale also contains Britain’s first public shrine to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, established by Bishop Milner in 1814, who built a small chapel to house an image of the Sacred Heart painted in glass as described by Saint Gertrude. The monthly first Friday devotions are held in the Institute chapel, and there is an annual novena leading up to the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart and culminating with a pilgrimage mass on the Sunday following.

Maryvale Chapel remained as the parish church and the centre of the local Catholic community until the new church of Our Lady of the Assumption was opened in the 1950’s to accommodate the needs of the expanding Maryvale parish.

Maryvale Institute, Early 20th Century

So as well as being a specialist educational centre, Maryvale is a place of worship, a place of pilgrimage and a spiritual community of prayer and mission. In 1999 sisters of the Order of the Most Holy Saviour of St Bridget - the Bridgettines - came to live at Maryvale in a new convent financed by Saint John Paul II. In addition to a deep devotion to our Lord’s sufferings and to the Blessed Sacrament, which is regularly exposed for adoration in the chapel, the sisters’ special charisms are contemplation, hospitality and prayer to foster unity among Christians.

The integration of study and prayer is a feature of all Maryvale courses and students participating in day or short residential programmes at the Institute enjoy teaching and learning opportunities united to a cycle of prayer and worship, including Mass and the Divine Office.

© Maryvale Institute 2023 - Maryvale Institute is part of the Birmingham Diocesan Trust, Reg'd Charity No. 234216