St Joseph’s College is a former Roman Catholic seminary in Up Holland, Lancashire, England. The foundation of the large building was laid in April 1880 and college was opened in 1883. The buildings have since been deconsecrated.
The college was formally opened in 1883 and was situated in Walthew Park, Up Holland, the geographic center of the Diocese of Liverpool.
The first Junior Seminary of the Diocese was founded at St Edward’s College in 1842 as a Roman Catholic “classical and commercial school” under the direction of the secular clergy and was established in Domingo House, a large house in Everton. Its president for the next forty years was Monsignor Provost John Henry Fisher. When the junior seminarians moved to St Joseph’s in 1920, the school was taken over by the Christian Brothers, who also ran St John Rigby College in nearby Orrell, and now serves as the Liverpool Cathedral Choir School. In recognition of the heritage owed to St Edward’s College, one of the two chapels at Up Holland was consecrated as the St Edward the Confessor Chapel.
St Joseph’s usually referred to by its students simply as “Up Holland”, was one of two main seminaries serving the north of England. Up Holland served the northwest and Ushaw College in the northeast. For many years, each of these institutions housed both a junior (minor) and a senior (major) seminary. The junior seminaries provided a secondary education in a semi-monastic environment to boys aged 11–18 who wished to pursue the priesthood, while the senior seminaries trained adult candidates, mostly aged between 18 and 24, in philosophy and theology, preparing them for the priesthood. A detailed account of daily life in the junior seminary at Up Holland during the 1960s, Boys of the Cloth, was published in 2012. This also explores the reasons why the Church’s traditional form of seminary training may have predisposed some priests to molest children, which was one of the key findings of a major investigation conducted on behalf of American bishops into the causes of the sexual abuse crisis within the Catholic Church in the United States.
Although Up Holland flourished until the 1960s, the rapidly changing social climate in that decade led to a sharp drop in enrolment. In the early 1970s, the northern bishops decided to consolidate the activities of Up Holland and Ushaw; from 1972 all junior seminarians in the north attended Up Holland, and from 1975 all senior seminarians attended Ushaw. Even as the sole junior seminary for the north of England, however, Up Holland continued to suffer a decline in numbers, and by the 1980s it was no longer described as a traditional junior seminary but as a “boarding school for boys considering a vocation”.
In 1986, the total number of students was down to 82, of whom only 54 were Church students, and it was no longer considered viable to educate them on the premises. From 1987, the remaining students continued to live at Up Holland but for classes attended St John Rigby College in nearby Orrell, an arrangement that continued until the last of these students left Up Holland in 1992.
In the meantime, following the move of the senior seminary to Ushaw, in 1976 the former Senior Seminary rooms had become the home of the Up Holland Northern Institute (UNI), with Father Kevin Kelly as its first Director. He was succeeded in 1980 by Father Vincent Nichols, now Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. Later, the College buildings were used more generally as a retreat and conference center for the Archdiocese under the leadership of Monsignor John Devine. A short video tour of the College, derived from footage taken a few months before its closure as a conference center, highlighting the functions played by different parts of the building during the seminary days, is available online.
The election of Patrick Kelly as Archbishop of Liverpool in 1996 saw the controversial decision to close St Joseph’s all together, and the property was sold for development to Anglo International, who instructed AEW Architects for the conversion of the Grade 2 listed buildings into 92 apartments, with 220 new builds “enabling” units. The major controversies of the decision were the ongoing financial viability of St Joseph’s, which had just started to make a small surplus under Devine’s management, and the sale and disposal of the art and artifacts in the college, much of which had been donated by various parishes and people of the Archdiocese, who were not offered their donations back
The election of Patrick Kelly as Archbishop of Liverpool in 1996 saw the controversial decision to close St Joseph’s all together, and the property was sold for development to Anglo International, who instructed AEW Architects for the conversion of the Grade 2 listed buildings into 92 apartments, with 220 new build
Info found on the wiki
Photos by Adam Martyn Ewings
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