Toward the end of 1900, it seemed to some of the Catholics of Ledbury that something should be done towards establishing once more a church in the town. Major Shaw,of Aylton Court, and Capt. O’Brien of Woodlands, applied to Bishop Hedley at Newport, and at his request, the Benedectine monks at Belmont Abbey undertook the work.
A house, 24 Homend, was rented and in a large upper room, carrying us inevitably back to the day of Pentecost, Catholic worship in Ledbury, after an interruption of 350 years was resumed. The little chapel was opened on Good Friday 1901.
Those too were hard days. Canon Wray, who took charge of the new venture, used to cycle over from Belmont on Saturday afternoon – motors were classed as dangerous explosives in those days, though they did not always go off – and after a strenuous weekend at Ledbury, returned on Monday morning to his work at Belmont of training young novices, and I can testify that this, too, was no sinecure, for I was one of those novices.
He was fortunate in finding in Ledbury a lady who not only saw that he had regular meals, did not sleep in damp sheets, and mothered him generally, but also played the organ for his services, and was able to speak sternly when occasion demanded. The spirit of self-sacrifice was in great evidence in those days.
Soon it became evident that some provision should be made for the instruction of the children, and many will remember Sister Rose and Sister Frances, who were found to volunteer their services and came from the Dominican Convent in London for three years.
In 1904 Father Edmund Begley was appointed to be the resident priest, and his first step was to remove from the chapel in the Homend, which had become uncomfortably crowded, to new quarters which had been leased in the Southend.
It is not necessary to dwell upon the attractive and popular personality of Father Frederick Lynch, or the genial figure of Father Patrick O’Keefe, for everyone in Ledbury knows them, and under them the Catholic Church in Ledbury was in the happy position, of having no history, it merely flourished.
In 1923, when motors had become more tractable, and exploded only when required to do so, the experiment was tried of having a priest who resided not at Ledbury, but in the large Presbytery of Bartestree, ten miles away, and thus Father Gregory Buisseret became the parish priest of Ledbury.
In 1925, when the lease taken by Father Begley fell in, the church in the Southend had in its turn become uncomfortably crowded, and temporary accommodation was found in the large sorting room of the Post Office which had just become vacant.
The next move in this wandering history will be taken on June 24th, when the Right Rev. Dr Mostyn, archbishop of Cardiff, is to open a new church near the South Parade.
Before 1847 the barn was a part of the stables for the Unicorn Inn. For more click here 1847 Commissioners of the Queen's Taxes meeting house. 1898 Plymouth Brethren leave 'after many years'. 1904 Catholic Church starts. 1926 Catholic Church leaves. 1928 Girl Guide Headquarters. 1930 Girl Guides leave. 1930 Probable start of Grace Dovey School 1940 Grace Dovey School of Dancing 1960 Last reference to Grace Dovey 1993 Referred to as the Stone Barn, D Roberts in residence.
Incumbent Residence 1923 Rev F O'Keefe No 16 Southend. Church in the Barn behind. 1924 and 1925 Tilley's not available. 1926 Rev D Gregory Buisseret The Presbytery Bartestree. Church at No 10 New Street. 1927 Rev R L Handford. No 39 Southend. Church in the Southend. 1928 Rev R L Handford. No 39 Southend. 1929 Rev R L Handford. No 39 Southend. 1930 Rev R L Handford. Bank House Southend. 1931 Rev R L Handford. Bank House Southend. 1932 Rev R L Handford. Bank House Southend. 1933 Rev A E Goatman. Bank House Southend. 1934 Rev A E Goatman No 40 Southend. 1943 ditto 1944 Rev D McAndrew 1953 Rev J Belt 1957 Rev J Featherstone 1965 Rev J J Fahy 1967 Rev J Boyle 1968 Rev G Daniels 1970 Rev T Bunyan. 1975 ditto 1976 First Entry in New Street for the church as it is today. Rev T Bunyan in the Presbytery in New St.
A view of part of the Church and No 40 19?.These two maps show the site in 1903 and 1926 with the builder's store/church arrowed.