History of Durham Martyrs

Springwell Hall, a rich coal owner’s mansion, set in spacious grounds, on the northern outskirts of Durham city, was purchased by the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle in 1935. One year later, on 26th August 1936, Springwell Hall became the home to St Leonard’s Catholic Central School.

Changes in the educational system over the years meant that the school later became St Leonard’s Modern School and then in September 1970 it changed status again to become St Leonard’s Comprehensive School. The growth in pupil numbers has necessitated major new building work but the original mansion house is still at the heart of this thriving school.

St Leonard’s has ten main primary feeder schools and currently there are over 1400 pupils on roll and over 150 staff. Since those early days in 1936, St Leonard’s has grown in stature and reputation as well as in size: excellent traditions have been established and the school is currently an over-subscribed, highly successful comprehensive school and sixth form centre with state of the art teaching facilities.

Sixth Form education started with small numbers in 1970 but at the moment there are over 250 students in the Sixth Form. The students are housed in a spacious new building – appropriately named The Martyrs’ Building – as the land on which the Sixth Form block stands is the site where, many centuries ago, Catholics were executed for the defence of their Faith.