St Anne's Church, Birmingham
|St Anne's Church|
|OS grid reference||SP 07965 86051|
|Founder(s)||John Henry Newman|
|Functional status||Parish church|
|Heritage designation||Grade A locally listed|
St Anne's Church is a Roman Catholic Parish church on Alcester Street in Digbeth, part of the city centre of Birmingham. It was founded by Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman in 1849. It was moved to a new building in 1884 designed by London architects Albert Vicars and John O'Neill, who also designed St Hugh's Church in Lincoln, and helped design St Peter's Cathedral in Belfast.
The building is Grade A locally listed.
In 1847, John Henry Newman came back from Rome to Birmingham after getting permission from Pope Pius IX to create an Oratory of Saint Philip Neri in England. In 1849, he had gathered a group of followers and they initially founded the church in an old gin distillery in Deritend. The area contained poor housing, with many back-to-back rows of houses, intermixed with industry and suffering the social conditions that the country sought to remove decades later. The nature of the housing meant that it was mainly occupied by migrants, in this case workers from Ireland.
In 1852, John Henry Newman took his community to Edgbaston in Birmingham when construction of the Birmingham Oratory was completed. St Anne's Church continued, and was administered by the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
The Irish community continued to increase in Birmingham and Catholic churches were built to accommodate the expanding congregations. St Catherine of Siena Church was built on the Horse Fair in 1874 and St Francis of Assisi church was built in Handsworth in 1894.
In 1859, Fr John P. Dowling became the new parish priest. He provided the land upon which the church stands. In 1884, a new St Anne's church was built on Alcester Street, designed by the London architectural firm Vicars and O'Neill. It was opened by Cardinal Manning. The former distillery that John Henry Newman turned into a church became a school.
In 1903, Canon Villiers replaced Fr Dowling. When he died on 19 October 1938, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) took over administration of the church. They became involved after their provincial, Fr Michael Ryan OMI, met the Archbishop of Birmingham, Thomas Williams and said that the Oblates were interested in moving into the archdiocese if a parish was available for them to work in. After Canon Villiers died, a vacancy appeared and they served St Anne's Church.
In 1952, the first Birmingham St Patrick's Day Parade was held. It goes right through the centre of the parish, along Deritend High Street and up to Digbeth. It happens on the Sunday before 17 March and it is the world's largest St Patrick's Day Parade after New York and Dublin. The crowds reach as high as 80,000 spectators and there are up to 40 floats, groups and bands in the parade.
The church has a close relationship with the nearby St Anne's Primary School, whose mission statement says that, 'At Saint Anne's we look to Jesus as our guide as we pray and learn, so that we can grow as friends together. Each one of us is special and we accept and respect one another as children of God.'
List of parish priests
The priests in charge of the parish were:
- St Catherine of Siena Church, Birmingham
- St Francis of Assisi Church, Handsworth
- Birmingham Oratory
- John Henry Newman
- Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
- Deaneries from Archdiocese of Birmingham retrieved 17 September 2013
- The Irish Quarter from William Dargue: A History of Birmingham, Places and Placenames retrieved 16 September 2013
- Locally Listed Buildings from Birmingham City Council retrieved 17 September 2013
- Parish history from St Anne's Birmingham retrieved 22 June 2014
- Tolkien and the Oratory from Birmingham Oratory retrieved 17 September 2013
- St Patrick's Birmingham retrieved 17 September 2013
- Our Faith from St Anne's Catholic Primary School, retrieved 17 September 2013
- Liturgy times from St Anne's Birmingham retrieved 22 June 2014