Bridport – St Mary and St Catherine Church
The foundation stone of the first Catholic Church in Bridport was laid in September 1845 and it 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.
There is a public car park in Rax Lane which is free on Sunday mornings. Masses are normally held at 10am on Sunday, at noon on Tuesday and and at 10am on Thursday.
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. The site at Culverhays was bought for £300 and T Crew & Sons completed the building to an initial design by Mr P Byrne, which was completed by an Exeter architect.
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.
St John’s Church has its own car park. Masses are normally held on the first and third Saturday of the month at 6 pm, and every Wednesday at 10am.
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. There is a parking area just beyond the entrance. Masses are normally held on the second and fourth Saturday of the month at 6 pm, and every Friday at 10am.