South Mimms: Roman catholicism

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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'South Mimms: Roman catholicism', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham, (London, 1976) pp. 301-302. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]


In the investigation that followed the capture of Edmund Campion in 1581, a resident of South Mimms, one Griffin, was among those suspected of aiding Jesuits. (fn. 1) By 1676 there were said to be no papists in the parish (fn. 2) but five years later Charles Malgrave of South Mimms was presented for recusancy. (fn. 3)

A mission was started at High Barnet in 1849 (fn. 4) by Dr. Faa di Bruno, the General of the Pious Society of Missions, helped by four Passionists from the Hyde between 1850 and 1855. (fn. 5) A large Italianate church was built in High Street in 1850 (fn. 6) but proved unsuitable for the climate and had to be pulled down. (fn. 7) Until part of the modern church was opened in 1865, services were held in the schoolroom. St. Gregory's chapel was added in 1870, the eastern part of the nave and Lady chapel in 1878, and the west end was completed in 1931. (fn. 8) The church is a brick building in the Gothic style seating 300.

Between 1867 and 1886 the Southwell family used the large attic at Knightsland as a Roman Catholic chapel. (fn. 9) A sister of W. H. Southwell was the superior of the Roman Catholic nunnery which, under the name of St. Monica's priory, used Clare Hall between 1886 and 1896. (fn. 10)

In 1920 a room at Wyllyotts manor was placed at the disposal of Roman Catholics by Mr. Beckett, whose son conducted services there. In 1922 Sir Nicholas Grattan Doyle provided a chapel in Boundary House, the chapel furnishings later being transferred to Hillside in Barnet Road, which the Spanish Vincentians had acquired in 1922 as a college for training missionaries. In 1925 the Vincentians built a temporary church at Hillside, which was destroyed by enemy action in 1945. Services were afterwards held in their community chapel and hall, until in 1950 the order was relieved of pastoral duties and the brick church of Our Lady of the Assumption was built in Mutton Lane. The Vincentians themselves built a brick church in Southgate Road in 1960; (fn. 11) dedicated to St. Vincent de Paul and Ste. Louise de Marillac, it was opened to the public and from 1969 has served a new parish in east Potters Bar. (fn. 12)

About 1922 Irish Dominican sisters established a convent in Church Road, whose chapel local Roman Catholics could attend. The convent was closed in 1937 and the building demolished in 1956. (fn. 13) In 1972 maisonettes called Rosary Court stood on its site.


  • 1. Acts of P.C. 1581-2, 164.
  • 2. William Salt Libr., Stafford, Salt MS. 33, p. 40.
  • 3. Mdx. Cnty. Recs. iv. 151.
  • 4. Brittain, South Mymms, 102.
  • 5. Ex inf. Father Sylvester Palmer; Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1855). The ch. is dedic. to St. Mary and St. Gregory.
  • 6. Catholic Dir. (1851).
  • 7. Brittain, op. cit. 102.
  • 8. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1932).
  • 9. Brittain, op. cit. 53.
  • 10. Ibid. 145.
  • 11. Story of Potters Bar, 77-8.
  • 12. Catholic Dir. (1970).
  • 13. Story of Potters Bar, 77.