Associates’ weekend at the Birmingham Oratory

Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th August 2019

The Provost and the Parish Priest of the Birmingham Oratory have kindly agreed to the Schola singing the High Mass (extraordinary form) on 25th August (10th Sunday after Pentecost) and Vespers & Benediction that afternoon in the opulent surroundings of the Birmingham Oratory.

All Associates (including those with little or no experience of singing Chant) are most warmly welcomed.

The Oratory was founded by Blessed John Henry Newman in 1848.  The present magnificent church was built during the reign of King Edward VII in a classical style evoking early Italian baroque.  Some 20 minutes away from the city centre, the Oratory is an outstanding building not to be missed on a visit to Birmingham.

Our new Director, Iain Simcock, is keen to meet the Associates and guide them through the Mass during the Saturday afternoon, and the Vespers music during the Sunday afternoon.  Our Chaplain, Fr. Guy Nicholls, will be speaking early on Saturday evening about the recently published Graduale Parvum.

From 12 noon on the Saturday we shall be showing Associates round the library of chant books and music left to the Schola by Mary Berry.  The long task of cataloguing the books and music, and categorising them for easy access, will have been completed earlier in the summer.  The library is housed in a room above the organ loft via a spiral stairway, allowing access for relays of not more than six people at a time.  Meanwhile, a simple lunch will be available in the ground floor cloister room.

Associates will make their own arrangements for an evening meal on the Saturday, and overnight accommodation.  I will now investigate local accommodation and restaurants, and report shortly on my findings.  It would be good if as many of us as possible might be accommodated at the same place, and especially to lunch together at the same local restaurant on the Sunday.

The draft programme for the weekend is as follows:

Saturday 24thAugust

12.00 Carol Parkinson will provide a simple lunch, and Associates, in groups of five or six, will be able to visit the Schola’s chant library. We expect each group to take about 15 minutes; so six groups would take 90 minutes.

14.00 Prepare for Sunday’s High Mass

15.30 Tea

16.00 Further preparation for the Mass, and possibly a start on Vespers and Benediction

17.30 Break

18.00 Fr. Guy to speak on the Graduale Parvum

19.00 Associates make their own arrangements for an evening meal and overnight accommodation. (If feasible I will recommend somewhere not too far from the Oratory

where participants could socialise in the evening and perhaps sing Compline)

Sunday 25thAugust

9.00 Rehearsal, and then refreshments

10.30 High Mass

12.00 Lunch (I will investigate whether as many as wish could eat together somewhere locally)

13.30 Prepare for Vespers and Benediction

15.00 Tea

15.30 Final rehearsal

16.30 Solemn Vespers and Benediction

To cover the Schola’s overheads for this weekend the cost per head should not exceed £50.  I will only be able to give a more precise figure once I know how many intend to come.

Please make a note of this event in your diary – it is incidentally the August Bank Holiday weekend – and let me know if you would like to come.  I will then keep in touch with you direct as well as on the Schola website, particularly with reference to Saturday night accommodation.  Also, please let me know of any individual or choir who might like to come so that I may contact them with the details.  The usual bursaries and discounts will be available for students, clergy and members of religious communities.

After a long period without any major event for Associates this will be a wonderful opportunity for us all to meet up, and both I, and Iain our Director, look forward to the pleasure of seeing lots of you.

Grey Macartney


Schola Gregoriana Associates’ weekend at Birmingham Oratory onSat. 24thand Sun. 25thAugust 2019

Address of the Oratory: 141 Hagley Road, Birmingham, B16 8UE

Telephone: 0121 454 0496

How to get there:

By car: There is a large car park, free for visitors to the Oratory. The entrance is on the right hand side of Plough and Harrow Road, a one-way street leading off Monument Road, ending on Hagley Road.

If you are staying at the Plough and Harrow hotel on the corner between Plough and Harrow Road and Hagley Road, you enter the car park, free to hotel guests, as you turn left on to Hagley Road.

By public transport: There is a good train service from innumerable destinations to Birmingham, especially to New Street station, and also to Moor Street and Snow Hill stations. There is a frequent ‘bus, no.9 every 10 mins., to Plough and Harrow on Hagley Road starting from Colmore Row, which is directly outside Snow Hill station. The journey takes roughly 15 minutes. You know you are there when you see a large Morrisons store on the left side of the road. To get to Colmore Row from New Street station you walk up Lower Temple Street, and Temple Street; then walk round the cathedral, and you are on Colmore Row. From Moor Street you walk up Carrs Lane, Union Street and Cherry Street to the Cathedral and Colmore Row.


The most convenient place to stay is the Best Western ‘Plough and Harrow’ hotel, 135 Hagley Road, which is very close to the Oratory (see above). B & B is roughly £80 depending on what sort of room you want etc. Their website is Plough and Harrow, Hagley Road, and their ‘phone no. is 0121 4544111.

Their e-mail address is should book your accommodation yourself, wherever you choose to stay.


There are steps, fairly easy ones, leading up to the first floor room in the Oratory in which the workshop will take place. There is a spiral staircase, quite steep, leading up to the organ loft and room in which the Schola library is housed.

Under 18s:

We regret there are no facilities at the Oratory for anyone under 18 who is not accompanied by a parent or guardian.


There is a service of Holy Communion (BCP) at 8 am on Sunday at St. George’s Church,

Edgbaston. ( The church is at 1, Westbourne Crescent, B15 3DQ,

which is about 600 yards from the Plough and Harrow by walking along Highfield Road, directly opposite the Plough and Harrow.

Do Come !

To cover Schola overheads for this weekend the cost per participant is £50. If there is a surplus it will go into the Schola’s charitable fund.

Tell your friends about this event. They will be welcome even if you are unable to come yourself.

For students the fee will be a nominal £10. If you are clergyman or member of a religious community or would like to come if the weekend were more affordable, the fee will also be a nominal £10.

To book: Please send me a cheque for £50 or £10 as appropriate, made out in favour of Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge. Please will anyone who is not an Associate let me have their name, postal and e-mail address, and telephone number. (We do not pass on these details to anyone else without your consent)

My postal address is 26 The Grove, London, W5 5LH

My telephone number is 020 8840 5832 (answerphone when out)

E-mail address:

Grey Macartney