History of our Parish Churches

Bridport – St Mary and St Catherine Church

The foundation stone of the first Catholic Church in Bridport was laid in September 1845 and was dedicated to St. Mary and St. Catherine.  The church was built by William Fry from a copy of a small church at Penton Mewsey and the first Mass was said on 1st July 1846.

St Catherine is the patron of ropemakers, which used to be the principal industry of Bridport. The building served the community until replaced in 1978 by the current church, which was extended in 2016.

The Address is:
St. Mary and St. Catherine Church
Victoria Grove
Google Map

Beaminster – St John’s Church

At the turn of the 20th century, the Catholics in Beaminster had to travel to Bridport to hear Mass. This remained the situation, apart from a short period during World War II when services were held by US Army Chaplains, from nearby Parnham House, who said Mass in the Red Lion pub.

Catholic numbers had begun to grow significantly prompting efforts in 1964 to raise money and find a suitable site for a new church.  A site at Culverhayes was bought in 1965 for £900 but there were second thoughts about the suitability of this site and an alternative larger  site was purchased in Shortmoor for which Mr P Byrne, a Catholic architect, was engaged to draw up plans.

St John’s Church was designed to accommodate a congregation of 80 and measured just 52ft x 20ft. The altar and font came from Christ the King Primary School in Bournemouth. The crucifix behind the altar was given by Gordon Crew in memory of his first wife. The building was blessed and opened by Bishop Restieaux on 17th March 1967.

During the next decade, the congregation grew to such an extent that the Church had to be extended northwards in 1975, with a further extension to the south in 1992.

The Address is:
St.John’s Church
Google Map

Chideock – Church of Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, and St Ignatius

Four families held the Manor of Chideock from the Norman Conquest until the late 1990′s (Mandeville, Chideock, Arundell and Weld). The Manor and estate were sold to the Coates family in 1996, though the Church remains in trust to the Weld family.

Chideock Castle was built by John de Chideocke in 1380. In the Middle Ages, it passed into the hands of the Arundells of Lanherne, a powerful West Country family who remained loyal to their faith when the old religion was banned. The Castle became a refuge for Catholic priests and a place where loyal Catholic villagers could go to Mass. During this time, seven Chideock men were martyred for their faith. When the Castle was destroyed in the Civil War, the Arundells left Chideock, but despite persecution, the local people kept the faith and worshipped in secret in the loft of a barn next to the present Manor House.

In 1802, Thomas Weld of Lulworth Castle, a relation of the Arundells and also a member of an old Catholic family, bought Chideock estate for his sixth son, Humphrey, who built the present Manor House and turned the barn into a modest chapel. In 1874, Humphrey’s son, Charles, transformed the latter into the beautiful Church we know today. The Church is dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs and to St. Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus.

The Church of Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, and St Ignatius in Chideock is situated along a quiet country lane (North Road) and is a short walk from St Giles Church and the Weld Memorial Chapel.

Dedicated website

The Address is:
Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, and S. Ignatius Church
North Road
Google Map

 A List of the Bridport Clergy from 1846 to the Present Day

1846                       Fr John Ryan originated the chapel at Bridport (the foundation stone was laid                          on 8th September 1845)

1846 – 1848          Fr John Ryan from Chideock

1848 – 1849           Fr Edward Kenny from Prior Park

1850                       Served from Chideock

1851 – 1852           Fr Edward Eustace Gosford or Fr J.J. Gallagher (Chideock)

1852 – 1853           Fr Joseph Padbury (of Spetisbury)

1853 – 1854           Fr Simon d’Augles (Spetisbury)

1854 – 1857           Fr Patrick Cass

1857 – 1859           Served from Chideock by Fr JB Caldwell OSB

1859 – 1860           Served from Chideock by Fr Charles Wilfrid Price OSB

1863 – 1864           Fr John Dawson (from Rhymney, Menevia Diocese)

1864                       Fr Thomas W Fenn (of Chideock)

1864 – 1898           Fr Remigius Debbaudt

1898 – 1901           Fr Edward J Barry

1901 – 1909           Vacant – Supplied by Fr Thomas Skuse (Lulworth)

1909                       Supplied by the Canons Regular

1910 – 1911           Fr Thomas Barney of St Scholastica’s Abbey

1911 – 1913           Fr John Francis Moulinet

1913 – 1917           Fr Francis (Frank) Daniels

1917 – 1925           Fr Denis O’Connor

1925 – 1932           Fr Charles Scanlan

1932 – 1970           Fr Bernard J Tracy

1970 – 2001           Fr Patrick O’Leary

2001 – 2009           Fr Jonathan Shaddock

2009 – 2010           Fr Paul McGeehan

2010 – 2019           Canon Richard Meyer

2019 –                  Msg Keith Mitchell