Forest of Dean: Roman catholicism

Page 396

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 5, Bledisloe Hundred, St. Briavels Hundred, the Forest of Dean. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1996.

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In the early 19th century priests from the Monmouth mission visited parts of the Forest of Dean (fn. 1) and a few people in the Lydbrook area were members of a Roman Catholic congregation at Courtfield, across the Wye in Welsh Bicknor (Mon., later Herefs.). (fn. 2) Later Catholics from the Forest also heard mass at Gloucester, Chepstow (Mon.), Monmouth, Ross-on-Wye (Herefs.), or Hereford, and most priests active in the Forest had parishes to the west. J. B. Chard, priest at Gloucester from 1894, was an occasional visitor. In 1915 a chapel dedicated to SS. Mary and Claudia was opened at Lydbrook. Used for occasional masses, said by a priest from Courtfield, in the early 1930s, it had closed by 1938. (fn. 3) Lydbrook Catholics continued to attend the Courtfield chapel after the Second World War. (fn. 4)

From 1930, when a Roman Catholic mission covering the Forest was established at Coleford, mass was said in a hotel in Cinderford. The mission to Cinderford was served by priests from Ross-on-Wye in 1935 (fn. 5) and by priests from Blaisdon Hall in 1938. (fn. 6) Later in 1938 Cinderford became a separate mission and a room of a house was converted as an oratory, and in 1939 a church was built in Flaxley Street. Designed by the Liverpool firm of Badger and Hutton, it was dedicated to Our Lady of Victories (fn. 7) and was given a parish including Lydney and Mitcheldean. In 1992 it had an average congregation of 90, drawn from Cinderford, Newnham, Ruardean, and other places in the north of the parish. (fn. 8) The presbytery west of the church was built after 1959. (fn. 9)

In 1939 the Sisters of Hope, who belonged to the Sisters of the Holy Family, purchased Abbotswood in Ruspidge for a convent and a nursing home. The nuns apparently gave up their nursing work in 1956 and the convent had closed by 1959. (fn. 10) In 1960 the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception established a convent and a school in a house in Cinderford next to the church of Our Lady of Victories. Their educational work in Cinderford continued in 1992. (fn. 11)


  • 1. Misc. vii (Cath. Rec. Soc. ix), 153 and n. This chapter is based principally on Glos. R.O., D 5467/6/1.
  • 2. Misc. iv (Cath. Rec. Soc. iv), 416.
  • 3. Cf. Cath. Dir. (1931 and later edns.).
  • 4. W.I. hist. of Lydbrook (c. 1959, TS. in Glos. Colln.), 12-13.
  • 5. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1935), 116.
  • 6. Cath. Dir. (1938), 176; for Blaisdon Hall, V.C.H. Glos. x. 8.
  • 7. Glouc. Jnl. 6 May, 24 June, 8 July 1939.
  • 8. Inf. from par. priest.
  • 9. O.S. Map 1/2,500, SO 6513 (1960, 1974 edns.).
  • 10. Cf. Cath. Dir. (1959), 158.
  • 11. Cf. ibid. (1960), 165; (1962), 169; below, Educ., elementary schs.