Festive album marks 175 years of service by the Sisters of Mercy

on Dec 22 in Uncategorized by

2016 marks the 175th anniversary of two important Gothic buildings designed by Pugin in Birmingham. The stunning St Chad’s Cathedral, (the first cathedral to be built in England since Wren completed St Paul’s in London) and the beautiful Saint Mary’s Convent, built for – and still occupied by the Sisters of Mercy, less than a mile away in Handsworth.

The New York voice artist, Catherine O’Brien, has created a festive celebration album to mark this milestone, with all profits being donated to the social work of the Sisters of Mercy.

The Birmingham Mail provides a glimpse of how the Sisters of Mercy serve those is greatest distress.

Saint Chad's Cathedral by Augustus Pugin, joint architect of the Palace of Westminster, was spared by the City Council.

Saint Chad’s Cathedral by Pugin in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the place where the interior fittings for the Palace of Westminster were made to Pugin’s designs.

The order of the Sisters of Mercy was set up by Catherine McAuley, an heiress from Ireland. Their first convent was built by Pugin at Bermondsey in 1838. Their second convent, also by Pugin, was St Mary’s in Handsworth, where the doors opened in 1841. Catherine built fourteen convents in all.

The industrialist John Hardman (senior) donated the land and funds needed to build St. Mary’s convent, and it was built opposite his own family home, (which still stands complete with blue plaque). Hardman’s daughter, Mary Juliana, was the first nun to be in charge of the convent.

John Hardman’s son, also John, ran the family’s manufactory based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, which provided the stained glass for the convent. Herbert Minton of Stoke provided the highly lustred encaustic floor tiles. Both Minton and Hardman worked on hundreds of schemes within Pugin, culminating with the Palace of Westminster.

Their story is told in Palace of Pugin.

Encaustic tiles designed by Pugin in St Mary's Convent, Handsworth.

Encaustic tiles designed by Pugin in St Mary’s Convent, Handsworth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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