St Mary's Cathedral
"The [Roman Catholic] church was built in the 1840s to a neo-Gothic design by architect August Welby Pugin, famous for his work on the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. It was paid for by halfpenny donations from the poorest community of immigrants on Tyneside, and was enhanced in the following decades by bequests from the Dunn family...The church was opened on 21st August 1844. The first parish priest was William Riddell, who had been appointed bishop earlier that year. James Worswick had died the previous year and had been buried in the church as it was being built. On 29th September 1850, the Diocese of Hexham was created and St. Mary’s became the Cathedral Church of the Diocese. On 23rd May 1861 the title of the Diocese was changed to that of Hexham and Newcastle. The Cathedral was dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption on 21st August 1860. Thanks largely to a bequest from Elizabeth Dunn, who had died in 1870, a tower and steeple could finally be added..." (Cathedral Website)
The Cathedral Church of St Mary is a Catholic cathedral in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, the mother church of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and seat of the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle. The Cathedral, situated on Clayton Street, was designed by Augustus Welby Pugin and built between 1842 and 1844. The cathedral is a grade I listed building and a fine example of the Gothic Revival style of architecture championed by Pugin. There is a monument dedicated to Cardinal Basil Hume in the Monument Garden outside of the cathedral, which was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. St Mary's Cathedral is the fifth tallest structure in the city.
By decree of Pope Pius IX on 29 September 1850, the Catholic hierarchy was restored on a regular pattern to England and Wales. Much of what had been known as the Vicariate Apostolic of the Northern District became the new See of Hexham.
Bishop William Hogarth was appointed to be the first bishop of the new diocese, and as such, required a church in which to place his seat or cathedra. St Mary's was chosen for this purpose and thus it gained the status of a cathedral church in 1850, becoming the first cathedral in Newcastle, as the Anglican St. Nicholas' Cathedral didn't become a cathedral until 1882.
The name of the see was changed in 1861 to Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Since then, eleven further bishops have been installed in St Mary's as Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle.
The seat of the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle was vacant after the death of the Right Reverend Kevin John Dunn in March 2008. He served in the post for almost four years, having been consecrated a Bishop and installed on the feast of St Bede the Venerable, 25 May 2004. Seamus Cunningham received his episcopal consecration on 20 March 2009 (feast of St. Cuthbert, the diocese's patron), at St. Mary’s Cathedral. He is the thirteenth bishop of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.
On 21 April 2006 the incumbent Dean, the Reverend Michael Campion, officially left his appointment at the cathedral. He is succeeded by the Reverend Peter Leighton, formerly the Catholic Chaplain to the University of Durham. Under the careful and exacting guidance of the Reverend Peter Leighton, the Cathedral has undergone a thorough period of renovation restoring much of the beauty of the original design. Phase one of the work was completed in September 2010 and phase two of the work, which included the installation of a new three-manual Kenneth Tickell organ of 46 stops, was completed in February 2013.