The carved stone font,
inscribed with his name,
is Captain Gaisford’s memorial
Our first Parish Priest
It is to Fr. Roe, or more accurately his father, Captain William Harriott Roe, a convert, that we owe our fine Grade II listed Church and the Priest’s House. Capt. Roe had ‘married money’ and used the wealth of his wife Mary to build most of the Church and the house for his son. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Danell on 24th June 1880. The Tablet reports “The Church will be entirely constructed of stone, Reigate stone forming the material of the walls, faced with Burgate stone. The interior will be lined with Box ground stone (the same used in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey).”
The Church was opened on 11th August 1881. Cardinal Manning presided and preached at the Mass sung by Bishop Lacey of Middlesbrough; Bishop Danell had died two months previously.
One other piece of church furniture was still required – an organ. Canon Cooksey tells its story: “The organ in the church was bought by Fr. Roe at the ‘Fisheries Exhibition’ where it was exhibited by Messrs. Bishop the builders and was the one on which a schoolboy named Henry J. Wood (the future Sir Henry) gave short recitals each day.”
Today it is amazing to think that the whole complex was built in less than fourtheen months, and within two years of Fr. Roe’s arrival in Caterham, and all for a total cost of £5,000!
The flag presented to the 2nd Battalian of the Irish Guards by The Prince of Wales on 14th January 1919 was deposited in the Church on 30th June 1919. It used to hang on the south side of the Sanctuary but is now preserved in a glass case. Guardsmen continued to march to Mass at the Sacred Heart until April 1940 when a Catholic Guards’ Chapel was opened at the Depot. A brass bell was presented to the Church by the Irish Guards in 1961. Patients from St. Lawrence’s Hospital also walked to Mass at the Church.
The Entrance Porch & Baptistry
The number of parishioners grew and by 1931 the church needed to be extended. The north aisle, a baptistry and a new entrance porch were added. In the booklet printed to mark the centenary of the parish in 1979, Canon Richard Stewart writes “The building is good and the style fits the rest of the church; but whether the extensions are entirely happy is another question, since the sanctuary is visible from only about 25% of the seating in the north aisle.”
The baptistry and the entrance porch were taken down in 1994 and a narthex created; this included toilet facilities, new sacristy and shop. The central entrance arch and double doors were reused. The 1930s porch had an entrance on the south side which was very exposed to the weather. This was relocated to more sheltered north side. The architect was Deidre Waddington, a parishioner.
Touching the wider world
Both Captain Gaisford and Fr. Roe were educated at the Oratory School, still under the direct influence of John Henry, later Cardinal, Newman, who had founded it in 1859.
Cardinal Manning who presided at the opening of the Church was the second Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster following the restoration of the hierarchy in 1850.
John Hardman & Co. Ltd. worked closely with Augustus Welby Pugin, producing many of his designs. The windows in the Palace of Westminster, (apart from those in the House of Lords), together with much of the decorative metalwork, were supplied by the firm. To quote from their website “Throughout the world most major cathedrals, churches and many civic buildings contain [work] made by Hardmans.”
The architect E. Ingress Bell collaborated on buildings such as the Victoria Courts at Birmingham, the new Admiralty Offices, and Birmingham University. The Sacred Heart may be his only church.
The Irish Guards were founded in 1900 by order of Queen Victoria to commemorate the bravery of the Irish people during the Boer War. Their chaplain, Fr. John Gwynn S.J., had regularly preached at the Sacred Heart Church before World War I. He went to France with them and died of wounds at Bethune in 1915.
Fr. Walter Cooksey, our second parish priest, was also an army chaplain in the latter years of World War 1 serving at Salonika, the Western Front, and finally with the occupation forces in Germany.
Fr. Maurice Roy who was chaplain to the many French Canadian troops station in the district during World War II later became Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada.
Fr. Cyril Scarborough, curate from 1932 to 1935 and Parish Priest from 1955 until his retirement in 1979 became an army chaplain when World War II broke out. He was taken prisoner at Dunkirk, spending the rest of the war in prison camps, ending up as padre in the notorious Colditz.
Examples of our murals
Words by Ann Lardeur
Acknowledgement: The Catholic Church in Caterham 1879-1979 by Richard L. Stewart