Acton: Roman catholicism

Page 39

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7, Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1982.

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There was one absentee from church in 1626. (fn. 1) In 1640 the parish officials could find no recusants (fn. 2) and in 1706 the wife of Mr. John Keys, of Acton wells, and Catherine Acton, widow, who was living at the Old King's Head, were the only papists. (fn. 3) Catherine Acton was reported again in 1708, at the Crown alehouse, with George Hill, gentleman, and John Hyndham. (fn. 4) In 1767 a summary of papists in the diocese of London gave only one for Acton, (fn. 5) while none was found in 1790. (fn. 6)

Nicholas Selby housed 'Nuns of the Visitation' from more than one French convent in 1805, (fn. 7) probably represented by the nunnery from Rouen reported as in Acton in 1810, together with two families of papists. (fn. 8) The families were those of Selby, who had built Derwentwater House, and Peter Kelly, to whom Selby leased the new house, himself moving to Acton House next door. They were said to have maintained a priest between them and fitted out a chapel in the basement of Acton House. When Acton House was let in the summer, services took place in a wooden building in King Street, next to which lived the chaplain. Besides the two families and their servants, the congregation consisted of Irish workers from the market gardens at Turnham Green. (fn. 9)

In 1835 the Revd. Thomas Heptonstall, Selby's chaplain, was still holding services at a chapel in Acton, whose location is unknown. They continued in 1851, from which date Acton chapel was served from Turnham Green, but had apparently ceased by 1856. (fn. 10) It was not until 1880 that services were held again in Acton, preceding the opening of the church of Our Lady of Lourdes. That church and other Roman Catholic places of worship are described below.

St. Aidan's church founded 1922, using breeze-block hall in Old Oak Common Lane, E. Acton. New building 1961 by John Newton, seating 500: (fn. 11) brick and concrete, with open bell tower; nine bells by Whitechapel foundry; statue of St. Aidan by Kathleen Parbury on front of tower; altarpiece by Graham Sutherland; triptychs by Roy de Maistre; stained glass windows by Pierre Fourmaintraux; stations of the cross in concrete by Arthur Fleischmann; ceramic wall to baptistery with design by Adam Kossowski. (fn. 12)

Church of the Holy Family, Hanger Vale Lane, built 1967, to serve W. side of Acton. (fn. 13)

Our Lady of Lourdes, High St., originated in services from 1880 at no. 2 Gloucester Villas, Shakespeare Rd. Replaced by temp. church of Our Lady, Strafford Rd., S. Acton, 1882. (fn. 14) Closed 1902 when permanent church of Our Lady of Lourdes opened on land bought 1892. (fn. 15) Attendance 1903: 427 a.m. and p.m. (fn. 16) Yellow brick building with pale red tiled roof in Romanesque style by Goldie of Kensington, seating 400. (fn. 17)

Sisters of Charity under Protection of St. Vincent de Paul had convent by 1902 at nos. 45 and 47 Avenue Rd., where they ran day school. (fn. 18) Moved to no. 9 Rosemont Rd. 1930. Chapel at no. 1 Pierrepoint Rd., adjoining convent, registered 1959, and chapel at no. 14 Rosemont Rd. 1964. (fn. 19) Also ran old people's home 1979 at Magnolia Court, no. 4 Pierrepoint Rd.

Sisters of Society of Sacred Heart from France formed first convent in England 1842 at Berrymead Priory, where they ran boarding and day schools. Moved to Roehampton (Surr.) 1850. (fn. 20)

Chapel and sacristy in Acacia House, Central Ave., registered 1960, cancelled 1964. (fn. 21)

Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainians in Gt. Britain had chapel 1979 in St. Olga's House, no. 14 Newburgh Rd., residence of Titular Bishop and Apostolic Exarch. (fn. 22)


  • 1. Mdx. County Rec. iii. 5.
  • 2. B.L. Add. MS. 38856.
  • 3. Guildhall MS. 9800.
  • 4. M.R.O., MR/RR 11/4.
  • 5. Guildhall MS. 9557.
  • 6. Ibid. f. 20; 9558, f. 417.
  • 7. Lysons, Environs (Suppl.), 99.
  • 8. Guildhall MS. 9558, f. 417.
  • 9. H. Mitchell, quoted in Baker, Acton, 109-10.
  • 10. Cath. Dir. (1835 and later edns.).
  • 11. Inf. from the par. priest; G.R.O. Worship Reg. nos. 48618, 68323.
  • 12. St. Aidan's E. Acton, Church and Its Art (1964).
  • 13. Site is in former par. of Ealing: see Ealing, Rom. Cathm.
  • 14. Cath. Dir. (1880), 99; (1882), 101.
  • 15. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 39195; inf. from the par. priest.
  • 16. Mudie-Smith, Rel. Life, 428.
  • 17. Information from the par. priest; Ealing Churches, no. 9.
  • 18. Kelly's Dir. N. Suburbs (1902); below, private schs.
  • 19. Kelly's Dir. Acton (1930); G.R.O. Worship Reg. nos. 52495, 67329, 69871.
  • 20. P. F. Anson, Rel. Orders and Congs. of Gt. Britain and Irel. (1949), 390, 392.
  • 21. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 67611.
  • 22. Cath. Dir. (1969), 465.