Hendon: 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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A P Baggs, Diane K Bolton, Eileen P Scarff, G C Tyack, 'Hendon: 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, ed. T F T Baker, R B Pugh( London, 1976), British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol5/pp37-39 [accessed 23 July 2024].

A P Baggs, Diane K Bolton, Eileen P Scarff, G C Tyack, 'Hendon: 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. Edited by T F T Baker, R B Pugh( London, 1976), British History Online, accessed July 23, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol5/pp37-39.

A P Baggs, Diane K Bolton, Eileen P Scarff, G C Tyack. "Hendon: Roman catholicism". A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham. Ed. T F T Baker, R B Pugh(London, 1976), , British History Online. Web. 23 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol5/pp37-39.


In 1577 a resident of Hendon, Thomas Devell, was a recusant member of Staple Inn (fn. 2) and in 1583 one Vicars, possibly a Roman Catholic priest educated at Lincoln College, Oxford, was teaching Sir Edward Herbert's children in Hendon. (fn. 3) There were no recusants in the parish in 1593, after the Herberts had moved, (fn. 4) but William Everingham was indicted in 1610 and his wife in 1612. (fn. 5) No indictments for recusancy were recorded after 1625 (fn. 6) and in 1676 there were no papists in the parish. (fn. 7) Edward Herbert of Gray's Inn, a Roman Catholic resident in 1706, was probably a distant relative of the absentee lord of the manor. (fn. 8)

In 1849 Passionist fathers from Poplar House, West End Lane, Hampstead, set up a temporary chapel at the Hyde to serve a substantial local congregation. (fn. 9) Later in that year the Passionists left Hampstead for a house in Hyde Lane (probably the modern Kingsbury Road), where the billiard-room was converted into a chapel dedicated to St. Joseph. In 1851 50 persons attended services there. (fn. 10) In 1852 the building, which was demolished in 1934, was exchanged for the larger Woodfield House in Cool Oak Lane, (fn. 11) which was renamed St. Joseph's Retreat. From there the fathers directed missions in north-west London, Middlesex, and the Barnet area. Foundations were laid in the grounds for a large monastery (fn. 12) but from lack of funds work was limited to extending the house and the temporary chapel. In 1858 the Passionists moved to Highgate Hill, where they remained in 1970.

The Passionists established a chapel in a wooden hut near the Burroughs in 1850, which became the centre of Roman Catholic worship in Hendon after the departure of the community. (fn. 13) In 1863 the hut was replaced by a church of ragstone in the Early English style, dedicated to Our Lady of Dolours; it was reconstructed as a low cruciform building with an aisled nave in 1927, to the designs of T. H. B. Scott, but was not finally consecrated until 1966. St. John's hall, West Hendon, acquired by the church c. 1962 and renamed St. Patrick's hall, was registered for worship in 1964 (fn. 14) and was served by its own priest in 1969.

The church of St. Agnes, Cricklewood Lane, opened in 1883 as an iron building, (fn. 15) which was replaced by another temporary structure in Gillingham Road in 1920. (fn. 16) A permanent church in Cricklewood Lane was consecrated in 1929. (fn. 17) It is a large plain brick building in the Early Christian manner, with nave, narrow aisles, and an apsidal chancel.

The chapel of St. Vincent's convent, the Ridgeway, served Mill Hill after its opening in 1887 (fn. 18) and a mission was later begun by Vincentians in Flower Lane, near the Midland Railway station. (fn. 19) In 1923 a permanent church, dedicated to the Sacred Heart and Mary Immaculate, was opened in Flower Lane and in 1968 a parish centre was added. (fn. 20) The church is of brick with stone dressings, in the Byzantine manner, and has a basilican plan.

A mission was established at Golders Green shortly before 1909 (fn. 21) and the permanent church of St. Edward the Confessor, Finchley Road, was opened in 1915. (fn. 22) The church was designed by A. Young (fn. 23) as a cruciform building of brick in the Perpendicular style, surmounted by a prominent central lantern tower.

Services on the Watling estate were first held in 1928 in a hut in Thirleby Road. The permanent church of the Annunciation, financed by an anonymous benefactor, was opened in 1929. (fn. 24)

Hendon is notable for its large number of Roman Catholic institutions. Apart from the Passionists the earliest was St. Joseph's Society for Foreign Missions, which moved into Holcombe House in 1866 (fn. 25) and provided the first systematic training for Roman Catholic missionaries in England. In 1871 a brick building to house 72 students, designed by Goldie and Child in a 'freely treated style' was opened in Lawrence Street on part of the same estate; a large apsidal chapel in the French Gothic style, occupying one side of a courtyard, was opened in 1873. (fn. 26) The college, which was extended in 1896, 1923, and 1929, is dominated by the tower of the chapel, which is surmounted by a gilded statue of St. Joseph. Cardinal Vaughan (d. 1903), who helped to establish the society at Mill Hill, is buried in the grounds. In 1969 there were 61 student missionaries at St. Joseph's college, which was the headquarters of the society and the residence of its superior general. It was served by nuns of the Pontifical Society of the Franciscan Missionaries of St. Joseph, whose first members took their vows at Mill Hill in 1880.

In 1881 Holcombe House was acquired at Vaughan's instigation by a recently-founded congregation of Franciscan nuns of the Regular Third Order, who renamed it St. Mary's abbey. (fn. 27) A convent wing was added in 1883 and in 1889 the wooden chapel was replaced by a large brick cruciform building in a plain early Gothic style, with a central tower surmounted by a short pyramid spire. The nuns began missions in the 1880s and established several local schools. (fn. 28) In 1952 a separate missionary congregation was established and in 1969 the sisters at Mill Hill were engaged only in education, although the abbey also served as their administrative centre and housed the regional superior.

The British Province of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul purchased Littleberries and its adjoining 40 a. in 1885. (fn. 29) A seminary block was begun in 1886 and in 1887 a large stone chapel, designed in the Perpendicular style by F. W. Tasker, was opened; it was rebuilt after a fire in 1935. Other additions have included a retreat block. In 1969 the convent was the administrative and training centre for the 1,200 sisters in the British province; it also supervised a school for deprived children, a nursery for abandoned babies, and a college for children's nurses on an adjoining site.

Sisters of St. Joseph, or Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, were established in Ravensfield House, Church End, in 1887. (fn. 30) In 1889 the community, whose work has always been chiefly educational, moved to Norden Court, near the Burroughs, which was renamed St. Joseph's convent and greatly enlarged. (fn. 31) A school was attached to the convent in 1970.

Sisters of La Sagesse, known also as the Montfort sisters, settled in Cricklewood in 1903 after their expulsion from France. They engaged in social and educational work (fn. 32) and in 1909 moved to Woodstock House, Golders Green, (fn. 33) which was renamed La Sagesse convent. An adjoining school was built and in 1970 was served by 15 resident sisters.

Discalced Carmelite nuns of the Primitive Rule, (fn. 34) from Fulham, moved into a new convent in Bridge Lane in 1908. The community, an enclosed contemplative order, comprised 21 sisters in 1969.

Dominican sisters were established in 1930 in St. Rose's convent, Orange Hill Road. (fn. 35) A school was subsequently built in the grounds and served by the nuns.

The Poor Sisters of Nazareth, a charitable order founded in Hammersmith in 1851, purchased St. Swithins, Parson Street, in 1932 as a training centre and renamed it Nazareth House. (fn. 36) It served as an orphanage during the Second World War but later reverted to its original use; in 1969 the average number of residents was 25.

A congregation of St. Ottilien of the Benedictine Missionary Fathers, a German community, took over a house in Ashley Lane in the mid 1930s and renamed it St. Augustine's mission house. (fn. 37) Their chapel was in use before 1940. (fn. 38)

In 1967 the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, or Pallottine fathers, bought a house in Armitage Road, Golders Green, as the residence of the provincial. Three priests were living there in 1969. (fn. 39)

Religious communities which stayed only briefly in Hendon included the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, at Ravensfield in 1878, (fn. 40) and Franciscans who occupied a house in Hermitage Villas, Childs Hill, in 1890 but had left by 1902. (fn. 41) In 1937 some sisters of St. Peter's Community were at Brent Lodge, which had been renamed St. Peter's Ouvroir, (fn. 42) but they left the parish when the building was demolished. In 1969 a mission-house of the Catholic Missionary Society in West Heath Road, Golders Green, was served by Franciscan nuns. (fn. 43)


  • 1. Much material for the sections on Roman Catholicism and Protestant Nonconformity was collected by Mr. G. R. Thomas.
  • 2. Miscellanea (Cath. Rec. Soc. xii), 108.
  • 3. S.P. 12/168/25(2); London Recusant, i. 9.
  • 4. Recusants' Rolls (Cath. Rec. Soc. xviii), passim.
  • 5. M.R.O., Cal. Reg. Bk. of Indictments, i. 2, 18.
  • 6. Mdx. Cnty. Recs. iii. 5 and passim.
  • 7. William Salt Libr. Stafford, Salt MS. 33 p. 40.
  • 8. Guildhall MS. 9800.
  • 9. Section based on inf. supplied by Father Sylvester Palmer, C.P.
  • 10. H.O. 129/135/4/1/7.
  • 11. For the house, see p. 10.
  • 12. Hendon Libr., Print L. 330.
  • 13. Section based on inf. supplied by the par. priest, Our Lady of Dolours.
  • 14. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 69775.
  • 15. Ex inf. the par. priest.
  • 16. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 47923.
  • 17. Ibid. 51820.
  • 18. Ibid. 30515. For the religious community, see below.
  • 19. Westminster Yr. Bk. (1969).
  • 20. Ex inf. the parish priest.
  • 21. Westminster Yr. Bk. (1969).
  • 22. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 46658.
  • 23. Ex inf. the par. priest.
  • 24. Ex inf. the par. priest.
  • 25. Section based on inf. supplied by the archivist, St. Joseph's coll.
  • 26. Builder, xxix. 964.
  • 27. Section based on inf. supplied by Sister Mary Gabriel.
  • 28. See p. 47.
  • 29. Section based on inf. supplied by the sec., St. Vincent's convent.
  • 30. Ex inf. the par. priest, Our Lady of Dolours.
  • 31. Hitchin-Kemp, 'Notes on a Survey', penes Hendon Libr. 113.
  • 32. Section based on inf. supplied by the superior, La Sagesse convent.
  • 33. See p. 11.
  • 34. Section based on inf. supplied by Sister Ann Fitzherbert.
  • 35. Ex inf. the par. priest, the Annunciation, Burnt Oak.
  • 36. Section based on inf. supplied by the Sisters of Nazareth. For St. Swithins house, see p. 12.
  • 37. Catholic Dir. (1937).
  • 38. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 59426.
  • 39. Ex inf. the bursar.
  • 40. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1878).
  • 41. Ibid. (1890, 1902).
  • 42. Ibid. (1937); for the house, see p. 10.
  • 43. Westminster Year Bk. (1969).