A Brief History of the Parish

It all began in 1916, when Canon Croft bought a piece of land at the junction of Skellingthorpe Road. At that time Skellingthorpe Road, Hartsholme and Birchwood were just fields. Mass was said in a room in Boultham Hall, some twenty people attended each week, and were in the Parish of St Hugh’s.In 1948, Father Taylor erected a wooden hut on the land purchased by Canon Croft and called it St Peter’s. The hut was originally used as a chapel of ease and developed into a Mass Centre and school (prior to the present school of St Peter and Paul being built).

On 2nd June 1953, the people using the Hut presented Monsignor Atkinson and his curate, Fr.P.Tierney, with the first Missal to be used for Mass at St. Peters. This original Missal is still kept in the Presbytery and on the fly leaf are the names of the people who formed the congregation of St.Peters at that time.

The Hut had to be extended to accommodate the growing congregation, but it continued to serve as a Mass Centre until the new school was opened in 1958. Once the school of St.Peter and St.Paul had opened, Mass was transferred to the new school hall.

One of the parishioners writes of this time:

Mr. and Mrs.Boaden, Fr. Leahy, a curate, and others used to play tennis. The young girls were allowed to play tennis with the priests, but were not to cycle through town, to or from tennis, with the priests. The Priest’s House is built on the tennis courts.

After the Ellison family left Boultham Hall, it became the property of the City Council and was used for a Park café and storage. Mass was said in an upstairs room and we can only remember the steps up to the Hall and the beautiful staircase. The room would be full for Mass and people stood out on the staircase. Sometimes Fr.Peter Taylor, P.P. of St.Hugh’s would go by car to say Mass at Boultham Hall, or send George Williams to drive a curate or supply priest and Ron Dillingham or John Keane as server.

Early in 1948, Fr.Taylor took John Keane with him to buy a storage hut from Reeves Haulage, near Bardney. “The Hut”, as it was called, was erected by Fr. Taylor, Jack Keane, Bert Boaden, Don Wright, John Hanlon and John Keane. They finished felting the roof in Trips Week, July 1948. The Hut door faced the hand gate, which was approximately where the hand gate is today. On the right of the hut, the site of the present church, allotments were still being worked as we came to Mass in the early 1950s. Later, a second hut was bought and added to make a cruciform shape. The new part became the sanctuary and was plastered by Don Wright.

Now RAF chaplains were being ‘stood down’ at some airfields, but with two cars it was possible to serve the Boultham Hut and Bardney Airfield. George Williams would drive a supply priest and server in Miss Fisher’s Austin Seven car, which she lent on Sundays. In about 1947 John Keane would collect a Holy Ghost Father from Upton, near Newark in Fr.Taylor’s car. A Sacred Heart Father from Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, would be met at Lincoln Station. Two suitcases were kept ready in St.Hugh’s Presbytery, each case was ready packed with vestments, altar vessels, portable altar stones, altar wine and altar breads.

When Fr.Tierney came, as a curate, to Lincoln with Monsignor Atkinson, he begged us not to say “The Hut” when referring to Boultham’s Mass Centre. Soon, he found that he was calling it “The Hut” too. Brian Bennett helped us to sing plain chant for feast days.

After the school was built, we had Mass in the school hall. There was a Saturday afternoon rota for preparing the school hall. We put up a trestle table, for the altar, on the stage; arranged rows of chairs, lifted out newly acquired hassocks from under the stage. Flower vases, candle sticks, crucifix, cassocks and cottas were kept in the medical room.

A curate, Fr. Snowden, came down to Boultham. This was the beginning of a ‘Dialogue Mass’. He decided we could have a ‘parish’ newsletter made up of news and adverts. It must have been one of the earliest church newsletters. The R.C. Governor of Morton Hall brought his family and a row of “his boys” to Mass in the school hall. Mr. Osborn, the school’s woodwork master, made us a wooden holy water stoop to use in the school hall. It is used now in the Lady Chapel porch. When Fr.Tierney returned as parish priest a few years later, he called the newsletter CRUX. Working for the Hut and Mass in the Hall, brought together the first parish council.

Before Our Lady’s Church was completed, the Knights of St.Columba undertook to collect donations from men to provide an altar. The Catholic Women’s’ League collected ladies’ donations for a baptismal font. This idea was used again for the new church of St.Peter and St. Paul. John Keane, KSC treasurer, and I (Paddy Keane), as CWL Secretary, took in donations for the altar and font.

On 2nd May, 1966, Bishop Ellis ceremoniously blessed and laid the foundation stone of Ss.Peter and Paul Church. He told the crowd gathered for the ceremony:

“You have gone about your work in my opinion in the right way, first the school and then the church. This at first may seem blasphemous but God does not need bricks and mortar more than living bricks which are you and your children. You have put things in their proper order, you have given your children a place where they can be brought up properly.”

In 1967, Monsignor Atkinson opened St.Peter and St. Paul’s Church for services, supplied from St. Hugh’s. Most of the Masses at that times were said by Fr. O’Sullivan. The Church was consecrated by Bishop Ellis on 12th September 1968. It had cost £80,000. The consecration was attended by Archbishop Igino Cardinale and was the first time that an apostolic delegate had visited the city since the Middle Ages. The words of wisdom and guidance given by the Archbishop are as relevant today as they were when the church was consecrated:

“Every Catholic should feel really at home when he is in a Catholic Church. But your sense of community should not be restricted to these holy precincts. When you leave the walls which now surround you, they must stretch out with you into the troubled world. For, although God dwells in this house, he craves much more to dwell in the temple of your own body. The true Catholic must carry the Church with him, wherever he goes.”

The first Parish Priest was Fr.Peter Tierney (1968-1980). In 1972, the crucifix that forms one of the most dominant features of the church was hung above the altar. Fr.Tierney had met the sculptor of the figure, Giacomo Vincenzo Mussner, whilst on holiday in the Italian Tyrol. It was paid for by Winnie Tracey in memory of her husband Jim.

In 1980 Fr.Brian Dazeley was appointed Parish Priest, to be followed in 1985 by Fr.Michael Lynch. During Fr. Lynch’s time as Parish Priest, St.Hugh’s Catholic Primary School was moved into the parish – being opened by Bishop McGuinness on 27 April 1994. On 30th May 1995, the new Parish Centre was blessed by Bishop McGuinness (replacing the hut fondly known as “Cathedral View”).

In 1996, Fr.Stephen Lennon was appointed Parish Priest and remained with the parish until 2000, when he was replaced by Fr.Michael O’Donoghue. Prior to Fr. Lennon’s leaving the parish, plans were instigated to replace the front doors of the church and create a narthex area behind one central door – thus bringing the front entrance (that was largely unused) back into operation. These doors were officially opened by Bishop Malcolm McMahon on the same evening as we formally welcomed Fr Michael as Parish Priest. During Fr Michael’s time, the organ has been replaced, new sound and lighting systems installed, changes made to the sanctuary area and a new stained glass memorial window installed. Having purchased a new priest’s house, plans are well underway to convert 2a Skellingthorpe Road into new parish offices and teaching areas for the school and parish.

Some of the founding members who saw the church opened have passed on and we pray that they will rest in peace. We also remember in our prayers the priests who have died (including Monsignor Atkinson, Fr Lennon and Fr Peter Tierney) and Deacon Tony Brown. We, however, give thanks for the continued growth of the church and school communities.

Fr Michael O’Donoghue took up a new position in Holy Trinity Newark, late in 2008.

Rev Monsignor Canon, Thomas McGovern VG was Parish Priest of SSPP from 2010 to 2017. Among other significant changes, Fr Tom initiated fundraising for – and the installation of – the magnificent church organ which can be seen in the church today and which is enjoyed by many during regular worship and for special occasions and concerts. A more important legacy however is that, with his encouragement toward evangelisation, the church is now approaching the next stage in its journey with a renewed vigour.

SSPP welcomes Canon Edward Jarosz as our new Parish Priest, and we look forward to supporting him in his work with us.