Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

After Catholic Emancipation in 1829 and the restoration of the hierarchy in 1851, the celebration of Mass returned to Wellingborough in 1868. Mr. Arkwright, a convert living at Knuston Hall, enabled Canon Scott from Northampton to say Mass for four Catholic families over a Post Office. In 1875, the town was entrusted to Father Bernard Murray, a curate at the Cathedral, who said Mass weekly in a rented house in Church Street where two of the upstairs rooms were converted into a chapel which became known as “ The Garrett ” . On 1 st June 1881 he moved into the town when Wellingborough was established as an independent Mission.

Father Murray started a Catholic School in a shop in Midland Road and in 1884 an iron school was erected in Ranelagh Road for the sum of £340 on the site of the present ‘ Old School ’ . The records for 1882 mentioned 160 Catholics out of a population of 14,000 people. There were 21 Baptisms including 12 converts. In 1883 a grand total of 76 people made their Easter Communion and in the same year 34 people were confirmed.

Not content with a temporary iron church Father Murray soon entered into discussions with the Bishop to make plans for a new church in Ranelagh Road on a site bought in 1881 opposite the iron building. And on 2 nd September, 1886, the present church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was opened with a High Mass celebrated by Bishop Riddell. The cost of the church was £5,016. The Presbytery was added in 1894 at the personal expense of Bishop Riddell. In 1896 the present school building in Knox Road was built at a cost of £1,150 and in 1902, with help from Ireland, a mission at Rushden was established.

In 1913 Canon Murray retired after 32 years in Wellingborough. He had arrived in the town with only a handful of Catholics to administer to, but he had built a church, a school and a presbytery and had “fathered” a generation. From the upper room in Church Street where the celebration of Mass must have so reflected the intimacy of the Last Supper, a small group led by a young priest had been inspired to build not only a church but a parish. Canon Murray was followed by Fr. A O’Sullivan, Fr. E Garnett, Fr. J Cosser, Fr Underwood Fr. E Payne who saw the church consecrated on 4 th May 1954, Fr. W Johnson, Fr. J Fennell, Canon D McSweeney, Fr. M Griffiths, Fr Edmund Worthy and since 2015 Fr Paul Inman.