Families Of the Parish

At the time when Cromer and Sheringham were being converted from being fishing communities into holiday resorts it is probable that there were no Catholic residents; the nearest were in the hinterland at Aylsham on the road to Norwich, and at North Walsham and Wroxham along the route of the eventual railway to Norwich, a City which had a Jesuit Mission from the late eighteenth century. Thus, the earliest Catholics came from outwith the coastal communities.

Knill, Stuart
Born 11 April 1824. head of John Knill & Co., Wharfinger of City of London and of Blackheath; Alderman, City of London, Lord Mayor of the City of London 1892–93 and City Alderman. Died 19 Nov. 1898. Holiday house in Cromer.

Frank Augustus Loads, a draper with a business in the Market Place in North Walsham. He had been a convert from Wesleyanism. Father Carter said Mass in his home on the Monday of Holy Week in 1904. He used to travel to Cromer to attend Mass, initially by pony & trap or by bicycle and later by car.

Abbots Hall Farm, just north of Aylsham, was the home of Philip and Maria Shepheard. Their Private Chapel formed the nucleus for the Church of St. John of the Cross (www.sacredheartnorthwalsham.com/stjohnshistory.html). Philip was the youngest of eleven children of John Shepheard of Erpingham. His elder brother Sam and three of his sisters had become Catholic converts, and Philip followed on the death of his first wife. He had remarried and bought Abbots Hall Farm in 1880. The farm had formerly been a Grange of St. Edmunds Abbey and one of the barns was converted into a Chapel. The family gave the Crucifix which is still in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Refuge..

Edward Ingram Watkin was the only child of Emmeline Paxton Ingram, one of the daughters of Herbert Ingram, founder of the Illustrated London News and his father was the nephew of Sir Edward Watkin, the railway magnate. Edward, known as Edda, became a Catholic whilst studying at New College, Oxford in 1908. Whilst resident in Sheringham he wrote an apologia for Catholicism which must have been the source of much pain for himself and for the two Parish Priests in Sheringham (Father Carter) and in Cromer when in the hands of the scholarly Father Squirrel. On 3 October 1913 he married Helena Shepheard of Abbots Hall at Our Lady of Refuge: the ceremony was performed by Father Squirrel. Emmeline Watkin, Edda’s mother, was thoroughly against the marriage at that time: hence, the non-involvement of Father Carter.
Their first child, Christopher Paul was born in February 1918 and became Dom Aelred, Abbot and headmaster of Downside until his resignation in 1975 when he moved to Beccles and became titular Abbot of Glastonbury. He died on 2 May 1997.
In 1933 he contributed two chapters to Maisie Ward’s The English Way: studies in English sanctity from St. Bede to Newman (published by Sheed & Ward in 1933). His contributions were on Dame Julian of Norwich and on Richard Crashaw. Other contributors included Hillaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton and the well-known Jesuits D’Arcy and Martindale. Clearly, in the early 1930s Watkin was part of the English Catholic establishment. 

Mrs Watkin (née Emmeline Paxton Ingram) presented the Jesse window at St. Joseph’s to celebrate Edward’s first class degree in Greats awarded by Oxford University. She also gave Father Carter some jewels to decorate the monstrance. Emmeline did not become a Catholic.
It is quite clear from his daughter’s biography (The Watkin Path, by Magdalen Goffin) that Edward Watkin was a difficult man (he had taken a mistress) and that his actions were a source of considerable pain to Canon Carter as this extract shows:

He [Canon Carter] was now a tired old man with a bad heart and when the time came for them to say goodbye he wept. As a young priest he had said Mass in the little chapel at Aylsham founded and endowed by Helena’s aunts Charlotte and Betty Shepheard; he had known Edda when he was still Aloysius, a fervent convert bent on explaining Catholicism to the rest of the world, had benefited greatly from Emmeline’s largesse, had hopes that she too might be converted and baptized each one of Helena’s daughters. But what had it all come to? Scandal, adultery, an illegitimate child and a deserted house [St. Mary’s in Sheringham] .

During Fr Cureton’s ministry in Sheringham Mr Wedlake was Master of Ceremonies and cantor. He had a fine singing voice and used to lead the congregation.