Fonds PA42 - The Sacred Heart Parish, Southwold

Prayer Card to St Edmund Guild of St Felix and St Edmund Rules (draft) Fr Filmer to Fr Mason: Better to have own magazine Approval for Consecration of Sacred Heart, Southwold Fr Benedict Williamson to Canon Tonks: Receipt for work undertaken at Southwold Mission Town Hall to Canon Tonks: Notice for apportionment of costs Notice: Apportionment of Costs Receipt #4, Receipt of funds: New Church and House, Southwold Instalment #5, Funds due: New Church and House, Southwold Instalment #6, Funds due: New Church and House, Southwold Instalment #8, Funds due: New Church and House, Southwold Receipt #8, Receipt of funds: New Church and House, Southwold Instalment #9, Funds due: New Church and House, Southwold Plan of Site - Church and area, Southwold Southwold Catholic Magazine Vol II No 7 Leaflet: Consecration of Sacred Heart Southwold Memorial slip: Consecration of Sacred Heart Southwold Plan: Halesworth Catholic Church Suggestion "C"
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The Sacred Heart Parish, Southwold


  • Consecrated 7 June 1956 (Creation)
  • Church Opened 22 June 1916 (Creation)
  • 29 June 1899 to 31 October 2003 (Creation)

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1 box containg 3 folders
Folder 1: PA42-01-01
Folder 2: PA42-01 remainder / PA42-02 / PA42-03 / PA42-04
Folder 3: P42a all

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Biographical history

1896: Appointed to Southwold Mission from Lowestoft
1899: Resident in Southwold
1930: One of the two founding priests of the Guild of St Felix and St Edmund
1938: Appointed Canon
1940: Died at Southwold

Archival history

Material from (pre-2018 catalogue): ARC, CH1, CH3, INV1, XJT3, XNP4, XNP9, XNP12, XE11, XPD10

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RCDEA Archives
Northampton Diocesan Archives

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Sacred Heart Parish at Southwold

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In 1829, Catholics were granted civil rights and in 1840, East Anglia became part of the Eastern District, with a Bishop in Northampton. With the restoration of the hierarchy in 1850, this became the Diocese of Northampton. In the late 1870s, Fr Arthur Job Wallace, then Parish Priest of St Mary’s Ipswich, celebrated the first post-Reformation Mass in Southwold.

In 1897, licensed victualler James Crimmen extended his home, the Manor House on the High Street, to provide a Chapel. He named the Chapel “St Peter’s Oratory” and provided all the furniture, fittings, vestments, and sacred vessels. Fr Alexander Scott, from Lowestoft, celebrated the first Mass in the Oratory in June 1897. Mr Crimmen was anxious to establish a regular Mass, to which end he and his brother William promised £25 a year in support of a Priest.

The Bishop of Northampton, Arthur Riddell, sent Fr Henry St Leger Mason, then Curate at Lowestoft, to serve Southwold on Sundays and Holidays. Two years later the Bishop appointed him the first Priest in Charge of the Southwold Mission.

By 1901, the congregation had outgrown the Oratory of St Peter and a larger Church was needed. They raised sufficient to purchase the land fronting the Common but the funds to build the Church were slower to accumulate.

Miss Amy Auld, a Catholic convert, pledged £100 per year to the Mission in the hope that the donations would total £2000 by the time of her death. However, she passed away before her annual donations could reach her target. She left a bequest of £3000 for the erection of a Church and £1000 for the endowment of the Mission, the equivalent of £1.4 million today. Fr Benedict Williamson commissioned the design of the Church in 1912. The work was delayed by World War 1 but the Church was eventually completed on the 10th November 1915. On 22nd June 1916, the feast of Corpus Christi, the first Mass was given in the new Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Southwold.


1890: Fr. Brennan from Ipswich, came once a month to say Mass at Southwold.
1896: Fr. Henry St. Leger Mason, curate at Lowestoft, took over the Southwold mission and was appointed 1st Priest in charge, coming to say Mass on Sundays and Holy days. Mass was said at the Manor House, High Street, then owned by a Catholic, Mr. W. Crimmen.
1899: Fr. Mason took up residence in Southwold hiring a building in Station Road (now the County Library) as a temporary church.
1902: Present site bought for a permanent church.
1912: Miss Amy Auld, formerly of Blythburgh, a Benedictine nun at East Bergholt, died leaving a legacy for a church and presbytery at Southwold. Plans were drawn up by Fr. Benedict Williamson.
1916: Present church blessed and opened on the Feast of Corpus Christi, June 22nd.
1927: First pilgrimage to Dunwich in honour of St. Felix, Apostle of East Anglia, organised by Fr. Mason and Fr. C. Davidson of Aldeburgh.
1930: Formation of the Guild of St. Felix & St. Edmund - "for the re-conversion of East Anglia to its ancient faith."
1938: Fr. Mason appointed Canon of the Diocese.
1940: After 43 years devoted to the cure of souls in Southwold, Canon Mason died here on 11th November, and was buried in the Catholic part of the parish churchyard.
1940-45: During the war years, when the East Coast was a prohibited area, the mission was kept alive by Frs. R. Howarth and K. Ellison, and the help of Army Chaplains.
1945: Fr. Henry Macklin, appointed priest in charge.
1946: Fr. John Mossey, appointed priest in charge.
1951: Fr. Edward McBride, appointed priest in charge.
1956: June 7th, 40 years after its opening, the church was consecrated by His Lordship T. Leo Parker, 7th Bishop of Northampton, and the mission raised to the status of a parish.

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Sources (accessed 23-6-2021)
image: 1901 sketch of plot selected for Church, RCDEA Archives (accessed 23-6-2021)

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