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About The Church of Our Lady and Saint Wulstan

A brief history of the church
We thank Gillian Grute for lovingly researching and compiling this information.

1876 to 1884
1876 Ten Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus, religious exiles from Germany, settled in Southam at The Hall (the Sisters renamed it 'Bethlehem', now The Olde House Retreat) where they set up their chapel on the ground floor.
1878 A corrugated Iron church, seating 150, was moved to Southam from Cardiff,  It was a gift of Father Grosvenor (1826 - 1891), of Princethorpe.

The Annual Report of the Sister's Orphanage stated:
'...What we now especially need is more Church accommodation, not only for ourselves; but also for the Catholics of the neighbourhood, who have no other Church within a radius of 8 miles, where they can attend.'

1884 The Convent Chronicle reported that:
'Bishop Ullathorne on hearing that four families have become Catholics decided that the Convent Chapel should be used for the Parish...'
1886 to 1924
1886 First English Priest becomes Chaplin at Southam (Father Taylor).  He was described as '...very active and did much for the people of Southam' 

Presbytery built at Southam.  Mother Fey, of the Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus asked that this be built for a Priest and she prayed that '...St Joseph might send us a good one'.

1898 16 October Original Church taken down and new iron Church erected at Southam.  This came from Birmingham where it had been built for a mission that did not materialise.  The blessing took place on 26 October.
1902 The large convent was built and the hall (Bethlehem) became fondly known in the order and within Southam as 'The Old House'
1913 Charles Conrad Shaw makes his initial offer of �5,000 to build the church at Southam.  Plans had to be suspended due to 1914-18 War.
1914 Iron Church at Southam moved to Children's playground.  It is said that this was moved in the school holidays by local quarrymen.
1924 (June) For the first time since the reformation a procession of the Blessed Sacrament walked through the streets of Southam on the feast of 25 September - Building commences of current Southam Church.
1925 to 1971
1925 19 January (Feast of St Wulstan) The Foundation stone of the Church was laid by Msgr. Cronin, President of Oscott College.  The Church was completed on 1 July and Sister Mary Sales slowly decorated the interior with her paintings.
1937 Formation of The Catholic Womens League.
1952 A new alabaster High Altar was installed.
1956 14 May - The Consecration of the Church by Most Reverend Francis Grimshaw, Archbishop of Birmingham.
1971 Negotiations commenced to transfer the Church to the Parish.
1972 to 2006
1972 The Church was legally taken over by the Archdiocese.  As part of the agreement a Right of way from the Convent to the Church had to be preserved for as long as the Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus were in Southam and a Daily Mass arranged at a time suitable for the old sisters.  The Archdiocese also bought the Presbytery and made provision for the Sisters to convert one of the rooms in the Convent into a Chapel for their own use.
1989 The Old House was renovated and renamed 'The Olde House Retreat' - both to keep with tradition and to acknowledge its new identity as a Retreat Centre.
1995 The New Church Hall opened.
2006 Mass of Thanksgiving to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the solemn dedication of the Church.


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