Roman Catholicism

Pages 330-332

A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 1, the City of Kingston Upon Hull. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.

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Recusancy seems to have been weak in Hull in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and it is said to have been confined to a handful of merchant families. (fn. 1) The number of recusants discovered during this period was never many more than a dozen and often much less, (fn. 2) and it is not until the later 18th century that an increase in number is apparent. Archbishop Herring reported no Catholics in 1743, (fn. 3) but in 1767 there were 33 and in 1780 78–16 in St. Mary's parish, 43 in Holy Trinity, and 19 in Sculcoates. (fn. 4)

Anti-Catholic feeling aroused by the Gordon riots in 1780 resulted in the destruction of the Roman Catholic chapel in Posterngate: this is the first known Roman Catholic chapel in the town and in 1782 neighbouring householders said that it had been built three or four years earlier. (fn. 5) Various temporary premises were subsequently used and the congregation in the 1790s is said to have been no more than 30. (fn. 6) A new chapel was eventually built by Abbé Pierre Francois Foucher, a French refugee who was pastor in Hull from 1798 to 1820: (fn. 7) this was in North Street, off Prospect Street, (fn. 8) but is presumably the chapel registered in 'Chapel Street' in 1799. (fn. 9)

This chapel served until 1829 when the large church of St. Charles Borromeo was built in Jarratt Street. The Roman Catholic population of Hull was now considerable and the average attendance at St. Charles's was said to be 450 in 1834. (fn. 10) By 1850 the number of Roman Catholics was estimated at 6,500; if this was too high there were nevertheless almost 3,000 Irish-born inhabitants in 1851 (fn. 11) and on the day of the 'Religious Census' that year the attendances at the church were put at 1,050 in the morning and 600 in the evening. (fn. 12)

During the later 19th century three more churches were built, one of them to meet the needs of the growing population on the east side of the River Hull. A further ten have been added in the 20th century, spread all over the city, and several missions served some of the most recent suburban areas in 1966.

The convent of the Sisters of Mercy, founded in 1857, stood in Anlaby Road, near the end of Convent Lane; it was rebuilt c. 1870. (fn. 13) The convent moved to a new building in Southcoates Lane, opened in 1931. (fn. 14) A second convent, in Park Grove, was established by the Canonesses Regular of St. Augustine, who came to Hull from Versailles after the promulgation of anti-clerical legislation in France in 1904. (fn. 15) The convent of St. Anthony, in Beverley Road, was established in 1899, in an existing building, again by the Sisters of Mercy. Additions were made to the building in 1916, 1925, and 1931. (fn. 16) The Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, who had been in Hull since the 1870s, opened their boys' home in Queen's Road in 1909. (fn. 17)

One Roman Catholic institution in Hull is Anchor House, a sailors' hostel in Anlaby Road. The Hull branch of the Apostleship of the Sea was founded in 1931, and it conducted a sailors' club successively in Lee Smith Street and Charles Street. The present premises in Anlaby Road were first occupied in 1951, and extensions were opened in 1957 and 1965. (fn. 18)

In the list of places of worship below, which was compiled in 1966, the sources cited by numbers are as follows:

1. General Register Office, Somerset House, Worship Register.

2. Ibid. Worship Returns.

3. I. N. Goldthorpe, 'Architecture of the Victorian Era of Kingston upon Hull' (Hull School of Architecture thesis, 1955).

4. Catholic Directory, 1966.

5. Directories of Hull.

6. Hadley, Hist. Hull.

7. Sheahan, Hist. Hull.

8. Tickell, Hist. Hull.

Annandale Road, St. Stephen's Church: opened in 1966.

Boulevard, St. Wilfrid's Church: registered in 1896. (1) The church was destroyed by bombing in 1941 and a temporary building was registered in 1949. (1) This was replaced by a new church in 1956 (date on building).

Church Lane: used in 1788.(6)

Cottingham Road, Church of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Peter Chanel: registered as the Church of Our Lady in 1925, and replaced by the Church of Our Lady and St. Peter in 1957. (1)

First Avenue: a mission, served from Hall Road, in use in 1966. (4)

Hall Road, Church of the Holy Name: registered in 1933. (1)

Hopewell Road, St. Bede's Church: registered in 1953.(1)

Jarratt Street, Church of St. Charles Borromeo: built in 1828–9; (7) 650 sittings (H.O. 129/24/519). It apparently replaced North Street, from which a painting was taken to the new church.(7) The work of 1828–9 was under the supervision of John Earle, the younger (Hull Advertiser, 31 July 1829). The building was refitted both inside and out in 1835 by J. J. Scoles, architect (Rockingham, 12 July 1834), and much altered in 1894 by Smith, Brodrick, & Lowther (City Architect's Dept., drawing no. 347, 1894; The Builder, 26 Jan. 1895) (see plate facing p. 315). The entrance front, facing north, is of rendered brick with cast-stone dressings and dates largely from 1835. It has rusticated quoins and is five bays wide, the three central bays being set forward and crowned by a pediment with a cross at its apex; in the tympanum are the arms of St. Charles Borromeo. The central Corinthian portico was added in 1894, the original doorway having been surmounted by a segmental pediment, supported on consoles. Flanking the entrance are niches containing statues with small windows below them. At clerestory level three windows alternate with elongated consoles. The two recessed side bays have round-headed doorways; at their impost level a continuous band of guilloche ornament is taken across the whole facade. The original interior was a plain rectangle on a north-south axis with a gallery across the north end. The range of clerestory windows, alternating with plaster panels bearing the arms of St. Charles, the reredos, flanked by paired Greek Ionic columns, and the gallery all date from 1835. The alterations of 1894 included much of the elaborate enrichment and the addition of narrow aisles, the original side walls of the church being pierced to form aisle arcades. (fn. 19)

Leadenhall Square: registered in 1793(2) and still used in 1796.(8)

Lee Smith Street, St. Francis's Church: registered in 1964(1) in a temporary building. It replaced a mission first mentioned in 1929,(5) built on the site of the Lutheran mission.

Mill Street, St. Patrick's Chapel: a school-chapel, registered in 1871 and replaced by Spring Street in 1906.(1) The school remained in 1966.

North Church Side: a room 'on the north side of the High Church' was used after the destruction of Posterngate chapel.(6)

North Street: built by Abbé Foucher (pastor 1798–1820) (Cath. Rec. Soc. xxxii. 133). It was apparently replaced by Jarratt Street in 1829 and was demolished before 1866.(7) It was presumably this chapel that was registered in 1799, when it was said to be in Chapel Street.(2)

Pickering Road, St. Joseph's Church: registered in 1948.(1) It replaced a chapel first mentioned in 1937.(5)

Posterngate: said to have been built shortly before 1780, when it was destroyed during the Gordon riots (see above). It was rebuilt as a Jewish synagogue (see p. 333).

Queen's Road, St. Vincent's Church: registered in 1905. A new church was opened in 1933. (1)

Scott Street, St. Gregory's School: opened in 1893 with a chapel over the school, but used as a chapel for only a few years (ex inf. Mr. J. Lawson).

Southcoates Lane, Church of the Sacred Heart: registered in 1929.(1)

Spring Bank West, Church of Corpus Christi: registered in 1932. (1)

Spring Street, St. Patrick's Church: registered in 1906, replacing Mill Street. (1)

Wansbeck Road, Church of St. Thérèse of Lisieux: registered in 1962.(1) It is built of red brick with much glass and timber.

Wilton Street, St. Mary's Church: a school-chapel was opened in 1856;(7) 600 sittings.(5) The adjoining church was built in 1891.(1) It was designed by R. G. Smith and C. Brodrick(3) in the Gothic style.

Wold Road (School): a mission, served from Spring Bank West, in use in 1966.(4)


  • 1. Dom H. Aveling, Post-Reformation Catholicism in E. Yorks. 1558–1790 (E. Yorks. Loc. Hist. Ser. no. 11), 28. And see p. 97.
  • 2. Aveling, op. cit. 65; Y.A.J. xxxv. 179; xxxvii. 30.
  • 3. Abp. Herring's Visitation Rets, i–iii (Y.A.S. Rec. Ser. lxxi, lxxii, lxxv).
  • 4. Aveling, op. cit. 65.
  • 5. Hull Corp. Rec., B.B. 9, p. 547; Wilberforce Ho. MS.
  • 6. Tickell, Hist. Hull, 825.
  • 7. Cath. Rec. Soc. xxxii. 133.
  • 8. Sheahan, Hist. Hull, 569.
  • 9. Somerset Ho., Worship Returns, vol. viii, Hull Quarter Sessions (2), no. 8.
  • 10. See p. 315.
  • 11. Aveling, op. cit. 57.
  • 12. See p. 316.
  • 13. Sheahan, Hist. Hull, 572. I. N. Goldthorpe, 'Architecture of Victorian Era of Kingston upon Hull' (Hull Sch. of Archit. thesis, 1955, copy in Hull Pub. Libr.), 65.
  • 14. Ex inf. Sisters of Mercy, Southcoates Lane.
  • 15. Ex inf. Canonesses Regular of St. Augustine.
  • 16. Ex inf. St. Anthony's Convent, Endsleigh.
  • 17. Ex inf. the community.
  • 18. Ex inf. Mrs. D. G. Atkinson, Hon. Sec., 1966.
  • 19. Architectural description by A. G. Chamberlain.