Jo Wheeler - Photographer
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The Oratory, Birmingham.

The Oratory of Saint Philip Neri

Ornate courtyard at The Oratory, Birmingham
Courtyard at The Oratory, Birmingham
View of the interior of The Oratory, Birmingham
Undercover walkway alongside courtyard, The Oratory
The Oratory Wedding Photographs, Birmingham
Outside view The Oratory, Birmingham.
Ornate door at entrance to The Oratory, Birmingham
Blue plaque  outside The Oratory, Birmingham.
Courtyard space at The Oratory, Birmingham.
A view of the altar beneath the dome at The Oratory

Well, where do I start with The Oratory, Hagley Road, Birmingham. It is a beautiful, beautiful space that I have been fortunate to visit to photograph a wedding in 2013. I have not managed to be asked back there, but I am always hopeful.

The Oratory website states:

The Birmingham Oratory was founded by St John Henry Newman on 1st February 1848. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Rome in 1847. In Rome he joined the Congregation of the Oratory founded in the 16th century by St Philip Neri later known as the Apostle of Rome. The Oratory in Birmingham was first established in Maryvale, then moved to a converted gin distillery in Digbeth, and finally settled at Edgbaston in 1852.

After Newman’s death in 1890 it was decided to replace the first Oratory church with a larger building as a memorial to him. The architect E. Doran Webb (1864-1931) was commissioned and the foundation stone was laid in 1903. The church is built in a classical style which evokes early Italian baroque and is an example of Edwardian baroque architecture.

The church was solemnly opened in 1909, but had been in use for three years before this. It was consecrated in 1920. The new church was built on top of the old church, with the old church remaining in use for a time, before it was dismantled and the remains removed to reveal the new church.

The total length of Doran Webb’s church is 198 feet, of which the Nave accounts for 152 feet: the total breadth is 57 feet of which the Nave is 45 feet. The ceiling rests directly upon an architrave and is tunnel-vaulted instead of the flat roof more usual in basilica-style buildings. Lighting is provided by dormer windows set into the roof and from four rectangular windows in the drum of the dome.

The Oratory is a Grade II* listed building.

We attended the rehearsal a day or so before the actual date of the ceremony and the Priest was most accommodating during the rehearsal and on the day itself. It made me smile when he pointed out that there would be no 'first kiss' during the ceremony: it would only be allowed in the side room when the marriage register was signed. He also stated that there would be no clapping after the couple were pronounced husband & wife.

If you want to know more about The Oratory, click here.