Current Exhibitions

Our gardens, parkland, The Bounds Cafe takeaway and children's activities are open daily 11am-4pm

Our Main House, Chapels and indoor exhibitions are currently closed

Throughout the year, Ushaw runs a series of exhibitions, ranging from accounts of the more notable of our alumni, through to art exhibitions of different themes. Visitors can come and see our exhibitions during standard opening hours. Our current exhibitions are detailed below:

International Garden Photo Of The Year - on display in the gardens 1 April - 24 May

From the spring to early summer, we are proud to be hosting the prestigious International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY) Exhibition. Displayed in our magnificent formal gardens, the exhibition will includes a stunning selection of around 40 winning competition entries.

To coincide with the exhibition, Ushaw, in collaboration with IGPOTY, is launching a special photography competition set in the grounds. We invite you to capture the glories of our gardens in the competition 'The Beauty of Ushaw'.

Themes of the exhibition will explore ‘The Beauty of Plants’, ‘Beautiful Gardens’ and ‘Abstract Views’ + a recent addition of ‘Plants & Planet’. You can find out more information here:


We are also launching a special Adult's competition set in our grounds, where we’re inviting you to capture the beauty of our gardens in a FREE competition - details here :

And, for photographers aged 18 and under we are running our own online exhibition as well as win art supplies to help keep you busy and centred as lockdown comes to an end. Winners and runners-up will be chosen from photo submissions for each of 3 age categories, 8 and under, 9-13, and 14-18. The competition runs from midday April 1st to midday April 30th, with winners and runners-up in all age categories announced on May 14th for the best photographs of the gardens and grounds at Ushaw.

Email your submissions to

Outdoor Window Exhibition - on display in the grounds

Stuart Langley creates public realm works which consider light, colour, neon, sculpture and digital. Since imagining the work 'Stained Glass Cars' for Lumiere Durham 2013 he has created an extensive body of work which has been featured at light festivals, as permanent public sculpture and touring interactive artworks. 'Outdoor Windows' follows on from the stand-out light installation 'Inside Out' which brought Ushaw's iconic facade to life as a seasonal spectacle of neon and projection last winter.

To celebrate welcoming visitors to our Outdoor Bounds Cafe and stunning grounds & gardens, we commissioned artist Stuart Langley to create a series of stained glass effect artworks to add more magic and intrigue to our beautiful site. There is a total of seven ‘Outdoor Windows’, each taking inspiration from iconic objects and features unique to Ushaw and its vast collection. The artworks are displayed in the grounds, together with a design by Charlotte Marsland age 9, who won the competition to have her design created by Stuart and featured in this exhibition. We hope visitors exploring the grounds enjoy a colourful flash of inspiration, and a reminder of the treasures to be found within the soon to be reopened buildings.



Containing the figures of Saints, Martyrs, Sinners, Birds of Paradise, Beasts and Plants

Inspired by objects from Ushaw’s extensive permanent collection, Relics will comprise 36 paintings by Fairnington displayed alongside important items from Ushaw’s holdings. The exhibition features significant works from Fairnington’s career, including paintings from the Collected Human and Collected and Possessed series together with Specimen 11, his monumental obssessievly realist depiction of a leaf insect. 


Fairnington’s paintings will be displayed alongside items from Ushaw’s renowned collection of religious relics. Other exhibits from Ushaw’s holdings include St Cuthbert’s Ring, a medieval gold and sapphire ring removed from the Saint’s tomb at the time of the Reformation, a 19th century sculpture depicting the martyrdom of St Cecelia and a copy of Mark Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (1747), the first published record of the animal and plant life of North America.


Relics explores notions of representation; as Fairnington commented, ‘Running through the show is the concept of a representation as evidence, of something seen, witnessed and recorded. The representation presents itself as a truth however believable or unbelievable the thing represented is.’ Lucy Jenkins, Ushaw’s Heritage and Curatorial Director said, ‘we are very excited to be showing an exhibition of Mark Fairnington’s stunning paintings in a way that makes connections with the historic collections at Ushaw. Mark’s interest in the nature of collecting, in realism and the representation of human and natural history has strong resonance with Ushaw as a place of faith and learning.’

Life at Ushaw

An interactive display giving an insight into the day to day life of the different people living here when Ushaw was a seminary and boarding school. Visitors can find out more about the lessons that were taught, the sports that were played and the army of domestic workers that were needed to keep such a vast estate running.

Throughout the exhibition visitors can listen to the stories, experiences and recollections of the people who worked or studied at Ushaw from the College professors to the housemaids who worked in the laundry. These have been collected as part of our oral history project Divine Voices which has been supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Faith in Exile

In 1568, the small textile town of Douai in Northern France was transformed into a hub of intrigue and rebellion. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the Catholic religion was outlawed and harbouring a Catholic Priest was made punishable by death. As a result, English Catholics had to practice their faith in secret, with many fleeing to the safety of Catholic Europe. This included William Allen, a former member of Queen Mary I government and later Cardinal in the Catholic Church. Allen wanted to make sure the Catholic faith was kept alive in England and therefore established Douai College as a school and seminary for English Catholics.

Douai College became a centre for plots against the Tudor and Stuart governments and sent numerous missionaries secretly back to England with many becoming martyrs to the cause. During the French Revolution, war with England led to the students being forced to leave the College in fear of their lives.  By the 18th century laws against Catholicism started to relax in England which meant the student body could return and subsequently establish Ushaw College in the North and St. Edmund’s Ware in the South. The silver is currently on display in our chapels. 

Address: Ushaw: Historic House, Chapels & Gardens, near Durham City  DH7 9RH
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