A ROYAL visitor has been “fulsome in his praise” of efforts to give an historic former seminary a new lease of life.
His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent was guest of honour at Ushaw, on the outskirts of Durham, where he met the team behind plans to establish the grounds and buildings as a tourist attraction, events and exhibition venue, business hub, and conference centre.
Up to seven years ago, Ushaw College was used as a Catholic seminary for the training of priests but for the past four years it has been open to the public.
The Duke, who was accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon, was welcomed by flag-waving children from Esh Primary School before being given a tour of the spectacular buildings.
His visit included being taken into the library, which was established in the 1850s, and stores 30,000 titles.
Archivist Jonathan Rush showed the Duke notable exhibits, including the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle, reputed to be the world’s oldest encyclopaedia, and a 1663 prayer book once owned by Catherine of Braganza, wife of King Charles II.
He was also shown the historic chapel, where he heard a short performance from the County Youth Choir.
The visited ended with him planting a tree in the gardens where he met some of Ushaw’s dedicated volunteer gardeners.
Over lunch in the Professor’s Parlour, he had met Bishops, Trustees, funders, supporters, and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and Durham University.
Ushaw President, Father John Marsland, said: “His Royal Highness was very interested in what is happening here and fulsome in his praise of what has been done so far. He was clearly impressed by the buildings and the size of the site.”