Harrow, including Pinner : Roman catholicism

Pages 260-261

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4, Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood With Southall, Hillingdon With Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow With Pinner. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1971.

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Early Roman Catholic activity centred on Uxendon manor-house, where, from the beginning of the Jesuit mission, priests sought refuge with the Bellamys. (fn. 1) William Bellamy (d. 1581) entertained Edmund Campion shortly before his capture in 1581, and Richard Bristow, author of Motives Inducing to the Catholic Faith, who was buried in Harrow churchyard under the pseudonym of Richard Springe, apparently lived in the house for some time. In 1583 William's widow, Catherine, and two of her sons, Richard and Jerome, were indicted as recusants (fn. 2) and another son, Robert, was imprisoned. Jesuits continued to visit Uxendon and in 1586 Anthony Babington was captured there. Catherine Bellamy died in the Tower, Jerome, 'a very clownish, blunt, wilful, and obstinate papist', was hanged for bringing food to the conspirators, and two other sons, Robert and Bartholomew, also died in prison. Richard, a married son, moved from Tokyngton manor-house to Uxendon after his mother's imprisonment and continued the family tradition. (fn. 3) His wife, Catherine and two of his sons, Faith and Thomas, were indicted for recusancy in 1587 (fn. 4) and in 1592 his daughter Anne was committed to the Gatehouse of Westminster. There the notorious pursuivant Richard Topcliffe seduced her and forced her to betray the Jesuit Robert Southwell, who was arrested at Uxendon in 1592 and executed in 1595. (fn. 5) Possibly Topcliffe promised protection for Anne's relatives, for they were arrested but not executed and Richard was released for a time. Anne was married to an under-keeper of the Gatehouse prison and in 1594, after she had borne Topcliffe's child, Topcliffe asked her father for a marriage portion and for Preston manor-house as a residence for Anne and Nicholas Jones. The Bellamys seem to have been angered more by the marriage than by Topcliffe, but Richard's refusal brought further persecution. Richard and Catherine Bellamy, charged with receiving 15 or 16 priests, were committed to the Gatehouse, their two daughters, Audrey and Mary, were sent to the Clink, and Faith and Thomas to St. Catherine's prison. After 10 years' 'persecutions of extreme barbarity', Richard Bellamy conformed and was released, selling his Uxendon estates and dying in poverty in Belgium. Although there is a tradition that his wife died in prison, 'Catherine Bellamy of London, widow, late wife of Richard Bellamy', figured in a mortgage of Preston manor-house in 1609. (fn. 6) The two sons seem to have conformed but their fate and that of their sisters, who were apparently in prison for some time, is unknown. Three more recusants were indicted in 1587 (fn. 7) and another was indicted in 1591; (fn. 8) at least one of those charged in 1587 served in the Bellamy household. (fn. 9) The Page family also provided some recusants. William Page, brother of the first Catherine Bellamy, lived in Uxendon manor-house and was imprisoned with the rest. Anthony Page (d. 1593) and Francis Page (d. 1692), both priests, became Roman Catholic martyrs. (fn. 10)

Apart from the Revd. Chetwood Eustace, an Irishman who assisted Dr. Collins in his school, (fn. 11) no more Roman Catholics appear until the late 19th century. In 1873 the church of Our Lady and St. Thomas of Canterbury was opened as an iron hut in Roxborough Park. In 1894 this was replaced by a church for 250 people, built in the Perpendicular style by Arthur Young, with stained glass by the Harrow artist, J. E. Nuttgens. (fn. 12) Monthly mass was offered by the Harrow priest in the public hall in Wealdstone from 1899 until 1901, when the Salvatorian mission, which took the name of St. Joseph, registered Avondale, a private house in the High Road, as a mass-centre. In 1902 the Salvatorians moved to the Elms, a neighbouring house, and in 1905 they bought a site in the same road, where a temporary church was opened a year later. A corrugated iron and wooden hall was built as a school and social centre in 1907 and a community house in 1911. A new church, designed by Adrian G. Scott in the Gothic style, was opened in 1931, from which date the temporary church became a school until its demolition in 1954. A Salvatorian college, started in 1926 in the community house, had by 1967 expanded over much of the site near St. Joseph's church, which is used by the college for its communal masses. (fn. 13) Roman Catholics from Wembley worshipped in Harlesden until a convent chapel from Harley Place (near Baker Street), was re-erected in 1901 at Wembley Green. The small brick chapel, also dedicated to St. Joseph, was replaced in 1957 by a new building. (fn. 14) Services in Pinner were held at Dudley House, Woodridings, before a church in Love Lane was dedicated to St. Luke in 1915. This church, which contained the shrine of St. Philomena, was replaced by a basilica church in 1957. (fn. 15) A mission was established in Sudbury in 1924 and a temporary church was opened two years later. St. George's church in Harrow Road, built of yellow brick in a Gothic style, was consecrated in 1928. (fn. 16) St. Erconwald's in Carlton Avenue East, Wembley, (fn. 17) and All Hallows, later All Saints, in Clermont Avenue, Kenton, (fn. 18) were founded in 1932. All Saints was a small brick and asbestos structure until a yellow brick church with a free-standing tower was built in 1963. (fn. 19) St. Gabriel's in Northolt Road, Roxeth or South Harrow, was founded in 1933 (fn. 20) and St. John Fisher in Imperial Drive, North Harrow, in 1939. (fn. 21) St. Gabriel's, a plain brick church with seating for 180, produced a daughter church, St. Bernard's, at Northolt in 1965. (fn. 22) St. John Fisher, whose congregation had previously attended St. Luke's, Pinner, was built in a Romanesque style. (fn. 23) Roman Catholics in north Pinner and Harrow Weald formerly attended mass at the convent of Our Lady of Lourdes but the chapel could not accommodate worshippers from the new Headstone Lane estate. A new parish was created in 1953 and a basilica church, dedicated to St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, was built by John E. Sterrett and opened in 1955. (fn. 24)

For three years from 1905 the White House in Wembley was occupied by nuns who had been expelled from France. (fn. 25) In 1947 Waxwell farm-house in Pinner was acquired by the Grail, a secular organization concerned with ecumenical and welfare work. A chapel, meeting-hall, and dormitory block were added to the original farm-house, which in 1967 was used for conferences and as the administrative centre of the society. (fn. 26) There was a Roman Catholic Radio and Television Centre at Hatch End in 1970. (fn. 27)


  • 1. The following section is based on W. D. Bushell, 'The Bellamies of Uxendon', Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xiv; Elsley, Wembley, 77-94.
  • 2. Mdx. Cnty Recs. i. 140.
  • 3. Ibid. 207; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1591-4, 403, 528.
  • 4. Mdx. Cnty. Recs. i. 171.
  • 5. Cath. Rec. Soc. v. 334.
  • 6. M.R.O., Acc. 853/13.
  • 7. Mdx. Cnty. Recs. i. 171.
  • 8. Ibid. 198.
  • 9. i.e. Ric. Smith: Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xiv. 39.
  • 10. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xiv. 4-5n; Elsley, Wembley, 129-30; Miscellanea, xii (Cath. Rec. Soc. xx), 123.
  • 11. Miscellanea, xii (Cath. Rec. Soc. xx), 280; see below, p. 268.
  • 12. Gen. Reg. Off., Wship. Reg. 21788, 34647; Ret. of churches, chapels . . . H.C. 401, p. 172 (1882), 1; Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1886, 1906).
  • 13. Gen. Reg. Off., Wship. Reg. 45248, 45252, 53035; Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1906); Westminster Dioc. Year Bk. (1966); Pevsner, Mdx. 169; ex inf. Father Paschal Green, S.D.S.
  • 14. Gen. Reg. Off., Wship. Reg. 38392, 66485; Wemb. Hist. Soc., Acc. 907/54, /56.
  • 15. Gen. Reg. Off., Wship. Reg. 47819, 66508; Ware, Pinner, 198, 202-3; Westminster Dioc. Year Bk. (1966).
  • 16. Gen. Reg. Off., Wship. Reg. 50315; Westminster Dioc. Year Bk. (1966).
  • 17. Gen. Reg. Off., Wship. Reg. 53883.
  • 18. Ibid. 53642, 61927.
  • 19. Ibid. 69066; Westminster Dioc. Year Bk. (1966).
  • 20. Gen. Reg. Off., Wship. Reg. 54852.
  • 21. Ibid. 58876.
  • 22. Opening of St. Bernard's church, Northolt (pamphlet, 1965); ex inf. Hon. Sec. of St. Gabriel's (1965).
  • 23. Ware, Pinner, 202-3.
  • 24. Gen. Reg. Off., Wship. Reg. 64989; Westminster Dioc. Year Bk. (1966).
  • 25. Wembley News, 25 Dec. 1952.
  • 26. Ex inf. Miss Philippa Craig of the Grail.
  • 27. The Times, 9 Jan. 1970.