Bridgwater: Roman Catholicism

Page 235

A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1992.

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One man was presented for recusancy in 1593-4 and another as a suspect in 1613. (fn. 1) Three male and two female papists were reported in 1767, one man a toll keeper, one woman keeping a cook's shop. (fn. 2) There was one reputed papist c. 1776. (fn. 3)

Mass was celebrated weekly in a private house from 1845 and following the conversion to Catholicism of J. Moore Capes, founder and first minister of St. John's church, a Catholic chapel, dedicated to St. Joseph, was opened in 1846 in Gordon Terrace. (fn. 4) Capes and Bishop (later Cardinal) Wiseman contributed towards the cost. (fn. 5) The church was first served from Cannington, but in 1851 it had a resident priest. (fn. 6) In 1878 there were 60 Easter communicants. (fn. 7) A new church with the same dedication was built in 1882 in Binford Place, (fn. 8) of red brick with Bath stone dressings; it was extended in 1982. (fn. 9) The church in Gordon Terrace was a workshop in 1990.

In 1850 a small group of Dominican tertiaries attempted unsuccessfully to establish a house in the town. (fn. 10) Between 1885 and 1891 Sisters of Mercy occupied a building in King Street. (fn. 11) A group of Sisters of the Holy Rosary opened a convent in Eastcroft, Durleigh Road, in 1939. (fn. 12) The convent remained open in 1990.


  • 1. Recusant Roll, ii (Cath. Rec. Soc. lvii), 141; S.R.O., D/D/Ca 180.
  • 2. House of Lords R.O. 'Complete lists of papists 1767'.
  • 3. S.R.O., D/D/Vc 88.
  • 4. G. Oliver, Hist. of the Catholic Religion in Som. (London, 1857), 65; St. George's R.C. Ch., Taunton, Parish Mag. Summer 1982; above, churches.
  • 5. H. E. Field and T. B. Dilks, Parish of St. John the Baptist, Bridgwater (1946), 5.
  • 6. P.R.O., HO 107/1925.
  • 7. R. I. Hancock, 'St. Joseph's R.C. Sch., Bridgwater, 1883-1983' (TS. at St. Joseph's sch., based on original sources since destroyed), 3.
  • 8. Lond. Gaz. 1 Sept. 1883, 4075.
  • 9. Bridgwater Mercury, May 1982.
  • 10. Oliver, Catholic Religion, 65; Hancock, 'St. Joseph's Sch.' 2.
  • 11. Hancock, 'St. Joseph's Sch.' 4-5; O.S. Map 1/5,000, Som. L. 11. 21 (1887 edn.).
  • 12. Bridgwater Mercury, 15 Oct. 1985.