History of the Parish - Introduction

Introduction

The first place of worship for Catholics in Hampton after 1829 was provided by Michael Farmer who moved into St. Winifred's in Belgrade Road in 1888. He was very anxious to begin a Catholic centre in the village and in 1897 he built a house close to his workshops in Avenue Road and included in it a room which could be used as a chapel.

 

His son, Edmund, was ordained priest in 1894 and was given permission by Cardinal Vaughan to say Mass in the room at St. Winifred's on condition that anyone could attend. Later in 1918, with the growing number of Catholics, the workshop was altered to provide more space.

 

'Temporary' Church from 1927 to 1986In those days Hampton was very different from the area which we know today. It was not much more than a small town centred on very old roads around the High Street on the southern side of the railway line. Station Road, then called New Street, had only been half built and there were no more than eight houses in Percy Road. On the northern side of the railway, Milton Road had just been partly developed and there were a number of large houses in Broad Lane, Nightingale Road and Hanworth Road. Indeed, when Mr Farmer arrived there were not many more than a thousand dwellings in the whole of Hampton and the entire population barely exceeded five thousand people. Among these, he met two other Catholic families who, together with his own, brought the number of Catholics to twelve.

 

Interior view of the old church

 

In 1923 the diocese bought Walnut Tree Cottage in Station Road and Fr Harold Burton was the first priest to live at the house. He set up a chapel there to say a daily Mass while the Sunday Mass continued as usual in Avenue Road. The ground at the side of the cottage was cleared in 1927 and a new, temporary building (which was originally a site office used by the contractors who built Wembley Stadium in the early 1920's) was bought for £50. After some modifications it was re-erected on concrete foundations at the Station Road site. This 'temporary' wood and asbestos building remained in use as the parish church for nearly sixty years!

Rear view of the old church

It was originally intended to dedicate the new church to St. Winifred but it was thought that there would be confusion between St. Winifred in Belgrade Road and St. Winifred in Station Road so it was decided to ask Westminster to choose a title and "St. Theodore of Canterbury" was chosen.

In 1964 Archbishop Heenan, visiting St. Theodore's to confirm some young people, looking around the church commented "Well, my dear people, this will not do!". However it was not until 1975 when the first elected Parish Council was formed that things began to move forward. The parishioners worked hard and after many trials in November 1986 the new permanent church was finally finished.

Consecration of the Church

The official opening and consecration of the church took place on Sunday 22nd March 1987 when the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume, celebrated the ceremonial Mass.

 

 

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