Did you know that Cardinal Newman enjoyed composing music?


This gallery contains 4 photos.

He sometimes penned his Latin name, Giovanni Enrico Neandrini Here are some photos of his early compositions dating back to 1821 (Oxford) and 1832 (a composition to his sister) Photos taken during the digitization project preparation at Birmingham Oratory, October … Continue reading

Feast day of Blessed John Henry Newman

Feast Days of the Blesseds and Saints are usually marked on the day they died. The Feast Day of Blessed John Henry Newman , despite the fact he died on August 11 1890,  is celebrated on October 9th, the day he converted to the Catholic Church.

Here is a letter penned on that very day.


Littlemore, October 9. 1845

My Dear Madam,

  I have not been able to tell you. I shall, please God, be received this evening. Father Dominic, the Passionist, who is hearing my confession, did not come till late last night, and has to get away soon, being on his way to Belgium. So he fixed this evening.

  I am so engaged, in various ways, as you may suppose, that I merely tell you this, thanking you sincerely for all the interest you feel in me, and earnestly praying & trusting that it will not be found misplaced. The Church of Rome has never acknowledged English Orders, though she has never formally denied them. Practically, I am a layman in her eyes.

  Yours very sincerely,

    John H Newman


Digitising Newman




A fantastic video about the digitisation of the Newman Archive is now online. Filmed in all locations involved in the project, it gives a great overview, how we are digitising the archive, and what will happen with the 30TB of data we are producing…

Crests & Coats of Arms

One thing that I see a lot of, during the digitisation of the Cardinal Newman Archive, is paper.

In these days of email and text message, I had to think of the last time I sat down and wrote somebody a letter. Its been a while, but if I had to, I’d be hard pressed to find some decent paper to write it on. I’m sure the majority of people would have to resort to raiding their computer printer tray for a sheet of white A4. So I found great interest in the Crests and Coats of Arms that decorate much of the correspondence in the archive.

Here are just a few.


Batch 3 update

In late April we had the pleasure of a visit from Mary Jo Dorsey of National Institute of Newman Studies, Pittsburgh (NINS) and Brother Joseph from Birmingham Oratory for the first full Newman Archive team meeting at John Rylands Library. This was an excellent opportunity to catch up and discuss the progress of the project.

The third batch of archives CHICC digitised in the previous months had over 21,000 images and has now been returned and exchanged for Batch Four. The running total of images produced in this project so far comes to 63,607 images. Batch Four is due for handover in July.

Newman Team Photo

L-R: Tony Richards, Mary Jo Dorsey, Brother Joseph, Jamie Robinson and Cerys Speakman.

CHICC have also switched from shooting with the Mamiya 645DF+ camera to the Phase One iXR camera with the iQ180 back, this enables the photographers to control the camera remotely from a computer, easily moving from Live View to Capture and adjusting focus at the click of a button. More info at the Phase One website.

A visit to the Birmingham Oratory

As the CHICC team near completion of the second batch of archive material, a few of us were invited to visit the Birmingham Oratory. This was a wonderful opportunity for the team to put the material into context and learn more about Cardinal Newman himself. Brother Joseph and Daniel Joyce gave us a tour of the Oratory and let us in on its history.

Pictured: The Cloister


We were fortunate enough to be shown Cardinal Newman’s room, in which he lived and worked until he died at the age of 89. The room remains in its original condition.

Pictured: Cardinal Newman’s room:

NewmanRoom1 NewmanRoom4 NewmanRoom3 NewmanRoom2

We were shown The Cardinal Newman Library, which Newman founded in 1848 and made significant contributions to throughout his lifetime. We spent some time viewing pieces of interest including those with original medieval bindings and we discussed conservation issues surrounding these items.

Library1  BookEx2BookEx1 JimCarol1 Library4  Library2

Pictured below is the remainder of the Newman archive awaiting digitisation, minus the fifty boxes already digitised or currently held at the John Rylands Library. As you can see, we will be kept busy for quite some time yet!


Pictured below: The Newman Chapel

Chapel2 Chapel1

Pictured: The Oratory Church:


Finally, a trip to Birmingham Oratory isn’t complete without honorary tour guide, Pushkin the cat, a firm favorite with visitors!


Thank you to everybody at the Oratory for making us welcome, the visit was thoroughly enjoyed by all. For more information about the Oratory, you can visit their website here.

Project Update

A portrait of Newman from the archive

A portrait of Newman from the archive

The digitisation of John Henry Cardinal Newman’s archive is now in full swing. Since the project began only a few months ago, we have taken more than 17,600 images so far, across 22 boxes of material.

We are thrilled to now have  Tony Richards and Cerys Speakman working on the project, Tony as our photographer and Cerys as our digitisation assistant. Take a look at Tony’s amazing vintage photographic work on his site here.

A letter addressed to 'J' at the Oratory

A letter addressed to ‘J’ at the Oratory

The vast majority of the items we have photographed so far have been letters of correspondence to a variety of people, but there are also other pieces of ephemera that detail the day to day life of the Oratory, And a wonderful photographic album containing many portraits of Newman himself.

Re packaged boxes

Re packaged boxes in the climate controlled strong room at The John Rylands Library

As well as digitising the entire archive, the project also includes rehousing all the material into acid free, conservation friendly bespoke packaging. Boxes are custom made by the Collection Care team on our box maker.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Batches of 25 boxes are being shipped between the Oratory and the Rylands, the first count of 17,625 images is only from the first 22 boxes. The hand over for the next batch is in August, so once the National Institute for Newman Studies have the images, expect a lot more posting of interesting finds on the blog!