Saturday, 6 February 2016

St John the Evangelist Wallingford

St John the Evangelist Catholic Church Wallingford to give it's correct name
Before there was any Mass centre in Wallingford, a handful of Catholics would have attended Mass at either Dorchester to the north or Goring to the south.
In the autumn of 1924 the Catholic Community of Wallingford purchased an old Congregational chapel which had been built in the market place in 1799. Some years before it had ceased to be a place of worship, and had been used as a furniture store and bazaar. It was repaired, refurbished and re-opened as a Catholic Church in late 1924.
Eventually the need for larger accommodation proved a challenge. In 1958 it was decided to rebuild on the same site. While this work was going on, Mass was said in the Town Hall. The original chapel was demolished and the new and enlarged church was built.  It has had quite a few priests since it was purchased.

  • James Doran (served from Abingdon) 1924-1934
  • James Campbell (served from Didcot) 1934-1937
  • Arthur Olney 1937-1947
  • Abraham Jacob 1947-1957
  • William J Kearney 1958-1970
  • John D Dwyer 1970-1989
  • Donal O’Brien 1989-2006
  • David O'Sullivan 2006 -?
  • Since writing this I have found out Father David has moved on and Father Philip Harris has taken over.
  • (The history came from the church website)

    This is the church as you see it today and the porch is a recent addition which a few years after building had a toilet added over to the right. I often wonder why it was never made the full width.  The front has been in the photograph of many marriages
    So what do I remember of the church. Well just about remember Father  Jacob but fondest were of Father J Kearney who I used to serve mass for. At confessions Sat morning I could be kneeling at altar rails with my mate Dominic and Father J Kearney would walk up behind us and slelp me round the ear playfully  and slip my friend Dominic a bar of Chocolate, I was very sad when I heard he passed away. He retired in 1970 and  Father Dwyer took over. He was a nice priest and quite spoken  He buried my Father from her and a few years later  my wife & I were married here.  Father O’Brien was another nice priest who I met when I took my Mother to Mass he was also the priest who buried my Mother, it was a shame he moved to a  position elsewhere. The last Priest I met was Father O'Sullivan or Father David as he likes to be called is a very happy person who I found very helpful even though I don't visit his church as often as he would like.  

    The inside of St John the Evangelist this has changed over the years. The pews you see were originally the pews from the Congregational chapel and when it was rebuilt in 1958 my Father got one of the pews and made a garden bench out of it we had for years. The pews you see in the photo have been in the church since it was rebuilt. The church was modernised in the 1990's to how you see it now. The altar rails were removed and no doubt sold off though I do still have one of the spare wrought brass pieces made for it. The blue and green glass frame you see was added and above where I am stood was a balcony which had become unsafe and was also removed. The roof beams above had top be fixed as they are laminated and had started to come apart, hopefully the church will survive a good few years more.   One of these days you will see me at the back again during mass as the church still has a special place for me as I remember walking down the aisle with my new wife and big grin.


    1. Never heard of a Catholic church taking over a former Congregational church before. So many churches seem to have had their balconies removed.

    2. not the norm of what you share on your blog each week, i rather enjoy the open feel, way cool. ( :

    3. this one sure is sandwiched in there

    4. Beautiful church shots. Thanks for sharing your memories!