The Church in the 1930’s

Among the congregation were the Reverend Mother of the Community of St Peter, Eccleston Square, who now worked in the parish, and Fr Luetchford and members of St Augustine’s Kilburn, where they were celebrating their Diamond Jubilee at that time, Fr Atkinson being the then Parish Priest. The following Sunday, Bishop Perrin, who had dedicated St Leonard’s Mission five years earlier, presided and preached at a High Mass. From that time on the Mission Church carried on a valuable work in providing a Mass centre for the remoter part of the parish. For many years a priest was sent down from the Parish Church to provide three Sunday services at 8.00am, 11.00am and 6.30pm.

The architect for the Church of the Holy Spirit was a Mr Gibbons, who later was the architect of St Mary’s. The foundation Stone of the Mission Church had been laid earlier in 1932, on July the 2nd, by the Parish Priest’s mother, Mary Jane Johnson. The Altar-stone was blessed by a well-known prelate, Bishop O’Rorke, who also enshrined the relic of a martyr, according to the universal custom, within it. The Altar of the Mission Church itself was not consecrated until the Sunday after the dedication, when, as has been noted, Bishop Perrin came to pontificate. The original purpose of the Mission Church was that it should serve not only for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but also as a church hall, and to that end a moving screen was placed between the sanctuary and the main part of the Church. After the removal of the old St Leonard’s hall down to the Glebe end of the parish in 1936, the screen became a redundant feature.   It may be worthwhile to mention here that some of the fitments of the old St Leonard’s were dispatched down to the Holy Spirit when St Mary’s was opened. The font was originally given to St Leonard’s by Mr Churchwarden Dixon in memory of his son. The image of Our Lady with the Christ child used to stand near the children’s altar in St Leonard’s. The pulpit also found its way down to the Mission Church– it no longer survives but the carvings that adorned it may still be seen on the walls of the Holy Spirit Church and on the portable altar there. The bell was saved up for by the local people and cost some £40.00, an amount that was raised in six months.

Fathers Johnson, Bevan, Lury and Ovenden
Fathers Johnson, Bevan, Lury and Ovenden

We have mentioned the Sisters. And they form another very significant part of the history of the parish. By November 1932 there were three Sisters of the Community of St Peter working in the parish, and it was resolved to build a Mission House at the Holy Spirit to accommodate them. The money was put up by a great benefactor, Mr Hamilton Miller, and the house was ready to be blessed by the Parish Priest and opened by Her Highness Princess Marie Louise on Wednesday, the 26th April, 1933. For some reason, now lost to us, the front door of the Mission House was all but obscured by an immense St George’s flag. The occasion was feted in the Record with one of the many short verses that a faithful son of Holy Spirit Church, Harry Sparks, wrote, seemingly at the drop of a hat. Indeed, so many and so good were they that in 1934 they were published as ‘Local Lyrics of Kenton’ with a foreword by Fr Johnson. Mr Sparks was quite a well-known writer on English Literature and published his verses in the Record under the nom-de-plume of ‘Feste’. His family at No. 1 Flambard Road have all been pillars of the church in Kenton from the very beginning.