Parish History

Our Lady of Lourdes; Holy Cross; St Anselm's Hindhead and St Teresa of Avila Chiddingfold form the Haslemere cluster of churches.

 

We are part of the Guildford Deanery which includes the Catholic parishes of Ash; Bramley; Burpham with Merrow; Chilworth; Cranleigh; Farnham; Godalming; Guildford; Haslemere; Heath End; Hindhead; Rydes Hill; Sutton Park and the University of Surrey.

 

The Deanery of Guildford forms part of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The Diocese of Arundel and Brighton was formed in 1965 by the division of the Diocese of Southwark.

Our Lady of Lourdes
 

Our Lady of Lourdes Church owes its origin to Evelyn Dudley Coats who bought land belonging to Lord Derby, presented it to the diocese, and paid for the building. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Keating in 1923 and the church opened for worship two years later.

 

Miss Coats, a non-Catholic when she arrived in the area, lived in Fernhurst and ran a dairy farm which supplied the King Edward VII Sanatorium. At the time Haslemere belonged to the Godalming parish, but her friend Ethel Irving's fervour in trying to arrange for Mass to be said in Haslemere for the few Catholics in the district so impressed Miss Coats that she herself became a Catholic in 1907.

 

Before that, in 1908 the Franciscans from the Chilworth Friary celebrated Mass at Oaklands Hotel (now known as Redwood Manor) in a hired room, which became a little chapel placed under the patronage of St Gilbert of Sempringham. The Franciscans travelled to Haslemere by train on Saturday, stayed the night, and said Mass on Sunday mornings. It was Canon St George Kieran Hyland, Parish Priest of St Edmund's, Godalming who actually established the mission in Haslemere.

 

In 1923, while waiting for the new church to be built, the congregation moved to a club room adjoining the Swan Inn in the High Street. By 13th August  1924 the Church was finished and the 100 or so parishioners moved from the club room to the new Church.

 

When the church was built it assumed independent status and Father Edward Mostyn became the first Rector. There were fewer than 100 Catholics and the first years were difficult. Although the church had been provided by Miss Coats and the priest's house largely by Lady Bellew from Weysprings, heavy expenditure was incurred in laying out the grounds and furnishing the church. However, friends and visitors came to the rescue and a loan for £1,100 was repaid within four years. Being free of debt the church was finally consecrated by Bishop Peter Amigo of Southwark on 28th September 1932.

 

Priests of the Parish

      Click image to magnify

Father Richard Incledon’s ministry saw the building of the church hall, adjacent to Our Lady of Lourdes, which was opened in 1987 by Bishop (later Cardinal) Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. This enabled events to be held in the spacious hall and a newly-formed parish council met in an upstairs room.

 

Father Tony Lovegrove took on the role of parish priest from 1989 to 2001, his place being taken by Father Chris Benyon who by then had charge of 500 parishioners who attended Mass in the four venues. Father Stephen Hardaker came for a short three years before Father Chris Bergin was welcomed to the parish community in September 2010. When he was moved by the Bishop in 2015, Father Fergal McGuinness, on loan to the diocese from the parish of Santa Rosa in California, took on responsibility for the three centres. He left in June 2017 to be replaced by Father Ireneusz (Irek) Stadler who had previously served a Polish church in Thunder Bay Diocese, Canada.

 

The stained glass windows in Our Lady of Lourdes were designed and manufactured by two different stained glass window artists.

 

The main window and those in the Lady Chapel were designed by Geoffrey Fuller Webb and date from 1935 and 1937. Geoffrey Fuller Webb was born in 1879 and is the nephew of architect Sir Ashton Webb who was responsible for many important buildings in London which include the eastern façade of Buckingham Palace, Admiralty Arch and the frontage of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

 

In 1914 Geoffrey Fuller Webb set up his own studio in East Grinstead and examples of his work can be found at Woolwich Town Hall that was constructed between 1903 and 1906. Although a devout Catholic his work can be found in both Catholic and Anglican churches in Britain and abroad. Our Lady of Lourdes is very fortunate to have three examples of Geoffrey’s work, other churches that benefited from his talents are;

 

  • The Slipper Chapel at the Catholic National Shrine at Walsingham,

  • St James Catholic Church, Spanish Place, Marylebone,

  • Our Lady and St Dominic Catholic Church, Haverstock Hill,

  • All Saints Catholic Church, Oxted,

  • St John. Felbridge,

  • Manchester Cathedral and Tewkesbury Abbey.
     

Geoffrey Fuller Webb’s work can be identified by an engraved spider’s web with the date usually located in the bottom right hand corner of the stained glass design. He died in 1954.

 

The Dove over the main entrance and the St Gilbert window were designed by Clifford Durrant and were installed in 1991 and 1993 respectively. Clifford Durrant has a studio is Horsham where he produces new works of ‘art glass’ to commission as well as undertaking large and small conservation projects. Examples of Clifford’s work can be found at;
 

  • St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Chiddingfold,

  • St Gabriel Catholic Church, Billingshurst,

  • St Peter & St Paul, Ewhurst,

  • Unitarian & Free Christian Church, Horsham.

Our Lady of Lourdes Stained Glass

Click image to magnify

Holy Cross

In June 1917 the Daughters of the Holy Cross arrived in Shottermill and built their sanatorium. Their Chapel was opened in February 1929.

 

 

St Teresa of Avila

 

In 1953 Mass was being celebrated in the Girl Guides hut in Chiddingfold by the Josephite priests from Barrow Hills at Witley who took it in turns to conduct the Mass.  Then, on 15th October 1959, the Church of St Teresa of Avila was opened in Woodside Road, Chiddingfold.

 

 

St Anselm

 

In 1934, Major Arthur & Mrs Hunt of Hale House, Churt, converted an old barn on their property into a private chapel and a monthly mass was established. Then, in 1937, the chapel was open for weekly Sunday Mass.

 

In 1950, when Churt - Hindhead was will part of Haslemere, the Parish Priest, Fr Pitts called a meeting of the community at which it was announced that Sunday Mass would be said at Pineacres at the invitation of Mr & Mrs Callanan. Following the meeting the site of St Anselm's was purchased for the sum of £700.

 

It was in 1954 that St Anselm's was created as an independent parish with Fr Tanner as its Parish Priest. Fr Tanner was ordered by the Bishop to find proper accommodation and he moved to Beacon Hill Park. The Priest's house was built in 1955 and a year later the statue of Our Lady and the Holy Child was designed and carved by Michael Lindsey-Clark.