Edmonton: Roman catholicism

Pages 187-188

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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By will dated 1563 John Leake (d. 1572) left his biggest silver spoon to the church, 'if mass be ministered again'. (fn. 1) His widow and children were indicted for recusancy in 1587, (fn. 2) 1606, and 1608, (fn. 3) and in 1586 his widow's second husband John Cornwell was suspected of harbouring a priest and Leake's two sons, Joseph and Jasper, (fn. 4) were accused of using their position as justices of the peace to shelter him and of mocking the Anglican communion service. (fn. 5) There was suspicion in 1606 that Jesuits were being hidden in Edmonton. (fn. 6) Other recusants were Richard Palmer (1588), (fn. 7) Joan Ashley (1592-3), (fn. 8) Edmund Tayler (1599), (fn. 9) and John Gillett and his wife (1613), (fn. 10) who were mostly from yeoman families, and Thomas Gillett or Jellect and his wife (1615- 1619) (fn. 11) and Philip Fursden and his family (1635), (fn. 12) who were gentry. A 'college' of Jesuits was resident in Edmonton for a time between 1624 and 1627 (fn. 13) but there were said to be no recusants there c. 1640. (fn. 14)

There were two papists in 1676 (fn. 15) and John Mulberry, yeoman, was indicted for recusancy in 1684. (fn. 16) In 1706 there were said to be no papists in Edmonton (fn. 17) but it must have been soon afterwards that William Le Hunt set up a large Roman Catholic seminary for young men who were then sent to foreign seminaries. (fn. 18)

No papists were recorded in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. (fn. 19) The first Roman Catholic church was that of the Precious Blood and St. Edmund King and Martyr, consecrated in 1907. Situated on the west side of Hertford Road, opposite Bounces Road, it is a neo-Gothic building of rusticated stone with a squat tower. It is served by Redemptorists (fn. 20) and was attended on census Sunday 1903 by 199 in the morning and 180 in the evening. (fn. 21) St. Monica's church in Palmers Green originated as a mission in 1910. The church, a stone building in the Gothic style, was built by Edward Goldie in 1914 at the corner of Green Lanes and Stonard Road. (fn. 22) There is a brick presbytery adjoining it and St. Monica's hall was built west of the church in 1931. (fn. 23)

In 1923 the first parish priest in New Southgate acquired a presbytery in Bowes Road and added a small extension which was used for services until 1935, when the church of Our Lady of Lourdes, a simple brick building, was erected next to it. (fn. 24) Benedictines of the priory of Christ the King were running a preparatory school at Cockfosters in 1936 and in 1937 they registered the priory chapel in Bramley Road, Southgate, for worship. The church hall was registered in 1940. (fn. 25) The priory is an austere building in white brick. A similar building, the priory of Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, originally known as Regina Pacis convent, was built for Olivetan Benedictine nuns in Priory Close, Southgate, in 1941. (fn. 26) The chapel was registered for worship in 1968. (fn. 27)

There is a chapel belonging to St. Joseph's nursing home in Church Street, an institution run by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul since 1910. (fn. 28)


  • 1. Prob. 11/54 (P.C.C. 32 Daper).
  • 2. i.e. his widow Catherine and daughters Helen and Jane: Mdx. Cnty. Recs. i. 173.
  • 3. i.e. his son Edward: Mdx. Cnty Recs. ii. 19; M.R.O., Cal. Mdx. Sess. Recs. i. 236.
  • 4. For details of the Leakes, especially Jasper and Joseph, see D. Avery, Popish Recusancy in the Elizabethan Hundred of Edmonton (Edmonton Hund. Hist. Soc., c. 1967).
  • 5. When a poor couple were married at Winchmore Hill, Joseph Leake performed a mock communion service, singing 'a vile Profane song called "the Dogs of Tottenham" instead of a psalm': Cal. S.P. Dom. 1581-90, 349.
  • 6. Hist. MSS. Com. 9, Hatfield House, xviii, p. 242.
  • 7. Mdx. Cnty. Recs. i. 176.
  • 8. Cath. Rec. Soc. xviii. 145.
  • 9. Mdx. Cnty. Recs. i. 254.
  • 10. Ibid. ii. 235.
  • 11. Ibid. 115, 131, 236; Mdx. Sess. Recs. iv. 289.
  • 12. Mdx. Cnty. Recs. iii. 58-9.
  • 13. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1628-9, 53.
  • 14. B M. Add. MS. 38856, f. 40.
  • 15. Wm. Salt Libr., Stafford, Salt MS. 33, p. 40 (Compton census).
  • 16. Mdx. Cnty. Recs. iv. 243.
  • 17. Guildhall MS. 9800A.
  • 18. M.R.O., MR/RR 22/5; RR 23/4; RR 25/7; RR 26/7; E. S. Worrall, The Confessor Wm. Le Hunt, Priest and Schoolmaster of Enfield and Edmonton (Edmonton Hund. Hist. Soc., n.d.).
  • 19. Guildhall MS. 9557, f. 30.
  • 20. Westminster Yr. Bk. (1966); G.R.O. Worship Reg. nos. 40379, 42463, 58040; O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. VII. 11-12 (1914 and subseq. edns.).
  • 21. Mudie-Smith, Religious Life of London, 401.
  • 22. Westminster Yr. Bk. (1966); G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 46077; O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. VII. 10 (1935 edn.).
  • 23. Datestone on bldg.
  • 24. G.R.O. Worship Reg. nos. 48788, 55894; O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. VII. 13 (1936 edn.); ex inf. priest-in-charge (1972).
  • 25. G.R.O. Worship Reg. nos. 57402, 59353; Westminster Yr. Bk. (1966); Cath. Dir. (1937).
  • 26. Cath. Dirs. (1940-1).
  • 27. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 71268.
  • 28. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. VII. 11 (1935 and subseq. edns.); Westminster Yr. Bk. (1969); Kelly's Dir. Tottenham (1912-3); Cath. Dir. (1910).