A short history of the Catholic Church in Minehead

Pre 1888

Catholics in Minehead only heard Mass in frequently possibly only once a year. Their other option was to travel to Taunton.


One of those who travelled to Taunton was Mrs Marshall who arranged for Father Matthew Gurrin OP to come to Minehead to complete his recuperation from illness.  Father Matthew Gurrin stayed with Mr and Mrs Icledon friends of Mrs Marshall.  Father Gurrin ministered to Catholics in Minehead for a time before being recalled by his order.

1890 to 1891

After Father Gurrin’s recall Minehead was without a Catholic priest until the Abbess of the Franciscan Convent and Mrs Icledon lobbied Bishop Clifford for a permanent mission in Minehead. In 1890 or 1891 Bishop Clifford gave Mother Abbess permission to do all she could to establish a mission in Minehead.


Mother Abbess and Mrs Icledon managed to rent a small cottage with a large thatched barn in Selbourne Place Minehead.  The barn was opened as a Chapel in 1891 by Bishop Clifford.  Father J Davis was the parish priest.


In January 1895 Father J O’Shaughnessey was appointed parish priest having been assistant priest at Taunton.  He almost immediately began collecting money to build a permanent church for the parish.  Accounting records exist from July 1895.


July 1895

The West Somerset Free Press reported “A fund raising appeal was launched to build the new Roman Catholic Church in Minehead. For five years Mass has been held in a thatched property which was outdated and inadequate”
Oct 1895 Land purchased for new church and presbytery from the Luttrell Estate totalling one acre for £450 ( approximately worth £53,100 in 2016)
March 1896 Plans submitted to Minehead UDC by architect Canon Scoles.  These are simplified outlines of what was proposed.   Approval given 23rd March 1896
April 1896 9th April 1896 the foundation stone was laid at a ceremony carried out by the then Bishop of Clifton, the Right Rev. W R Brownlow.  So far no trace has been found of the foundation stone.
April 1896 According to a report in The Tablet Father J O’Shaughnessey, having been on the point of leaving Minehead for Clifton resigned in favour of Father Richard Chichester, who had been secretary to Bishop Brownlow.  It would appear that his appointment started about 25th April and the first entry in his hand-writing in the account book is for 29th April 1896.
April to September 1896 Building work on the church was carried out by Mr W Harrison a Minehead builder. The interior decoration of the ceiling in the Sanctuary was the work Arthur Lincoln Cox a parishioner, who was possibly a member of the Cox family that owned the West Somerset Free Press. The cost of building the church was £737 which does not include fitting out etc.
September 1896 On 15th September a service was held to open the church for divine worship.  The Offertory at the opening was £31 10s 0d (approximately equivalent to £3750 in 2016). A report of the opening was published in The Tablet dated 26th September 1896.
January 1898

At this time Father Chichester started to raise funds for the installation of a permanent High Altar and Reredos.  The total sum raised was £157 and the cost was £154 18s 6d. Of the money raised £50 was given by Lady van Straubenzee.


May to August 1900

Plans were made to add an aisle to the church.  The plans were submitted to Minehead UDC and were approved on 15th May 1900. The aisle was completed by late July or early August. The aisle was formally opened on 2nd September 1900.

November 1900

27th November Lady van Straubenzee died. In her will she left £1,200 to Bishop Brownlow for the Catholic Mission in Minehead.  She also arranged for the residue of her estate, after other bequests, to be held in trust for the parish

1901 The organ was installed which was built by Messrs Minns of Taunton.
1901 to 1907 Much if not all of the stained glass was installed.
February 1907 Mrs Webber-Incledon, benefactor of the church, died. She left £1,000, in her will, to the Bishop of Clifton for the Mission in Minehead
February 1914

Father Richard Chichester died on the 7th. After a Requiem Mass at Minehead his body was taken to Calverleigh in Devon for interment in his family’s plot.

February 1914

Mgr J Lyons became parish priest on the 19th. He was priest in Minehead until November 1916.

August 1914

World War I started.  Shortly after this a number of Belgian refugees where found accommodation in Minehead and they were joined by a Belgian priest, Abbe Dupurer, in October 1914.

November 1916 Father J J Noonan moved to Minehead from Clifton.
March 1919

Abbe Dupurer gives a moving address thanking the people of Minehead and around for their kindness to the Belgian refugees during the war. He then returned to Belgium.


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