Priests who served North Norfolk
Tomb of Canon Thomas Walmsley Carter:
first resident priest in Cromer and Sheringham
Canon Richard Duckett performed the blessing and opening of the Church of Our Lady of Refuge on 25 August 1895.
Duckett, Canon Richard
Born in Kendal on 10 May 1833 into an old Catholic family which included two Reformation martyrs amongst his forbears. In 1859 Pope Pius IX conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity on him. Died on 7 July 1910 when the great church, now Cathedral, of St. John the Baptist in Norwich was nearing completion. He was a great champion of the poor: for instance he was Governor of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital for twenty five years. Performed the blessing and opening of Our Lady of Refuge
Born in Liverpool in 1866, the son of an architect and pupil of Pugin. He trained as a pharmacist and was a late vocation, who studied at Oscott College and was ordained in April 1902. Fr Carter was made a Canon in November 1928, in recognition of his work. He died on 19 November 1938 and is buried outside the porch to St. Joseph’s Church. He was regarded as an authority on church ceremonial and architecture. He was also a keen gardener: there was a heated greenhouse where the Garden of Remembrance is now situated. A contemporary obituary in the Catholic Herald noted that he was a welcome visitor at Catholic conferences throughout England: he was very intersted in the Forward Movement and there was nothing unusual in non-Catholics making their way to St. Joseph’s for their devotions. Presumably the name Walmsley commemorated the two Reformation martyrs who came from Cumbria. One of the fruits of his work was the conversion. of the Berry family which led to Richard Berry becoming a priest.
The Tablet obituary noted: “As one who has been a thirty years’ friend of the late Canon Carter, it is a privilege to be allowed to pay him a tribute. He was first and last a man of God, a man who lived for God, with God and in God. Whether he preached or said Mass this profound devotion shone out of him. From this deep life of prayer proceeded all life of apostolic work. The Canon spared no sacrifice to help the souls of his flock. Though for years suffering from acute and chronic ill-health, he never spared himself where God’s glory and the good of souls was at stake. He had a particular devotion to the Holy Mass and achieved in his mission a very high level of attendance at the Daily Mass. He was the first resident parish priest at Cromer, where he built most of the church which has served until lately. In 1910 he was transferred to Sheringham where, in two years, he had with the aid of an anonymous benefactor, built a church of outstanding architectural merit. The architect was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. It was consecrated in 1910, enlarged in 1935. Nothing was spared in its furnishings and vestments. From the beginning, long years before the Liturgical Revival was heard of, Canon Carter established a Missa Cantata sung to Plaint Chant by the congregation. The Holy Week services were performed in this small parish so fully and so beautifully, that a Californian priest who happened to be in Sheringham for Holy Week was amazed. ‘The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up.’ The text is Canon Carter’s epitaph. For it sums up his priestly life consumed by zeal for God’s Sacramental house and still more for His spiritual house in souls. And his death also. For he wore himself out for God and his flock, a living sacrifice in union with the Sacrifice he daily offered.”
Squirrel, Father Harold Shelley
Born in September 1872 in Norwich and was brought up as a Unitarian attending the Octagon Chapel. He studied art and literature in Leipzig, and in 1889 was received into the Catholic Church at the Holy Apostles Church in Norwich. In 1896 he was accepted as a candidate for the priesthood and was ordained in St John the Baptist’s Church, Norwich in 1901. In 1903 he was appointed priest in charge of Marlow, but when his health began to fail he was transferred to Cromer. Father Squirrel was a member of the Guild of the Pope’s Peace which sought via Pope Benedict XV’s call to bring the warring parties together in peace talks during the First World War. .In 1934 he was moved to be Rector of St. John the Baptist in Norwich. At this time he became involved in the restoration on the Slipper Chapel at Walsingham. On 14 August 1934 Canon Squirrel privately blessed and celebrated the first Mass in the Chapel since the Reformation, prior to Bishop Youens offering the first public Mass on the following day: the Feast of the Assumption (Rear Walsingham). He died in Cambridge aged 88.
Arrived at Cromer from Church of Our Lady, Help of Christians at Olney in 1934. Responsible for enlargement of Sanctuary at Our Lady of Refuge. In 1941 he moved to Newmarket, later to Wolverton. Father Armstrong returned as Parish Priest of Sharingham in 1954 where he served until his death on 4 October 1967. He is buried in Sheringham Cemetery. Picture shows him with First Holy Communicants at Sheringham
Cansdale, Father Peter
Born in Belfast and became a Catholic whilst in New York in 1956. He was ordained in Rome in 1982. In 1993 he suffered a severe stroke and had to retire in 1997. He died on 13 February 2003.
Hacon, Father Francis
Born in Yarmouth and became a Catholic when aged fourteen. He was very proud of his Norfolk origins. He served at Fakenham and Thetford before Cromer, where he died on 29 November 1989.
Gray, Canon Herbert
Ordained in 1904, founded new Parish at Fakenham in 1905 with a later mission at Wells-next-the-Sea. Later he established the Parish of East Dereham. He moved to Cromer in November 1941 from Slough. He died in Gorleston on 11 January 1951
Fressanges, Father George
Attached St John’s Church, Norwich, but helped to look after St. Joseph’s following death of Canon Carter. Died in the Ilford train crash when a train ran into a bomb crater on 17 January 1944.
Tomlinson, Father (Canon) Leonard
Born in Yarmouth. Appointed Parish Priest Bletchley in 1940 and moved to Cromer on 24 October 1946. In 1949 he moved to Chesham Bois where he had to accommodate an enormous expansion of this parish through the new London Housing Estates and did tremendous work in building new Churches and Schools. He was appointed a Canon in 1969 and retired in 1975 to Chalfont St. Peter’s. He had been a curate at St. Joseph’s at the time of Canon Carter’s death. Died on 21 January 1983.
Hunting, Father William
Curate at St. Joseph’s at time of Canon Carter’s death: with him when he died. Later Parish Priest at Kettering and at Huntingdon; Became administrator of Shefford Boys Home and Diocesan Treasurer in 1945.
Became Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s in 1939 just before World War II: he arrived from the Church and Missaion at Woburn Sands. He moved on in 1945 and retired from Felixstowe in 1961 and died on 16 February 1963.
Parr, Father Joseph Michael
He was ordained as a member of the Passionist Order in 1945. He was made a Parish Priest in Bedford in 1951 and moved to Our Lady of Lourdes, Peterborogh in 1977. He died on 24 July 1983.
Hulme, Canon Gerard
Canon Hulme arrived at St. Joseph’s from Walsingham in 1968 and served as Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s until his retirement in 1976. He had a twin brother, Anthony, who was also a Canon. Sadly Canon Gerard Hulme died following a car accident in 1978 at the age of 69. Monsignor Anthony Hulme lived on until 1987, dying at the age of 78.
Cureton, Father John
Born in Liverpool in 1919. He qualified as a plumber and served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers during World War II. He was ordained in 1952; served as a curate in Bedford, before moving to Bury St. Edmunds and King’s Lynn. He was made Parish Priest at Sudbury in 1963. He was appointed to St. Joseph’s in 1976 and stayed until 1988 when he moved to Swaffham. In 1996 he became Chaplain at the Jesus and Mary Convent in Felixstowe. He retired to Nazareth House, Crosby in 2003 where he died in 2005. He was noted for his personal frugality, but most of the major furnishings were restored at St. Joseph’s during his tenure.
Crowley, Father Liam
Father Crowley, Parish Priest in Sheringham between 1988 and 1989. He started a Saturday evening Vigil Mass at St. Andrew’s Church in Holt. He retired from Downham Market to Ireland in 2006.
Philips, Father Thomas Kemp
Born in San Francisco in 1883, but educated in England. He trained as an engineer and worked on torpedo boats. He enlisted during World War I and was injured in the Dardanelles campaign. He attained the rank of Major. He was ordained in 1926. He became the fist Parish Priest of Wymondham where he spent most of his life savings on establishing the mission. He moved to Cambridge then to Thetford. During the Second World War he was Parish Priest at Lowestoft: when bombs began to fall during Mass he calmly continued and after the consecration gave general absolution to the congregation. He was moved to Sheringhaam in 1945 where he arrived seriously ill, but worked on with fortitude. The Sheringham congregation was very fond of this self-deprecating, kindly man who had enormous empathy with all who sought his help. Fr Phillips is buried in Sheringham cemetery. In the early days of the parish, Sheringham did not have a burial ground.
Parish Priest of North Walsham since 1928: moved to Sheringham in 1947 where his sister, Rose, became headmistress of the school. Left in 1954 and retired from Sudbury in 1963. He died on 12 March 1966
Born in Rosyth, Fife, on 20 June 1919. He died on Easter Sunday, 24 April 2011 and his funeral Requiem Mass was celebrated by Bishop Michael Evans at the National Shrine in Walsingham on 9 May 2011. Father Mac studied at Blairs College, Aberdeen and went on to the Pontifical Scots College in Rome where he was awarded a Bachelor of Philosophy in 1939. He was ordained in Northampton Cathedral in December 1943: unfortunately his parents could not be present as their train was snowbound on the journey south. On 1 February 1944 he became a curate at St. John the Baptist Church (now the Cathdral Church) in Norwich before being sent to High Wycombe. In 1951 he was appointed Parish Priest at the Sacred Heart Church in Southwold.
In September 1958 Father Mac arrived at St Peter’s Gorlestone (which according to the Parish Website) was sent by “the Bishop, so it was rumoured, to wake up the parish.” A branch of the C.W.L. was set up, as was also a branch of the S.V.P. These were soon followed by Scouts, Guides, Brownies and Cubs. Buildings included a Parish Hall and the creation of St Edmund’s Catholic Secondary School. The Church was designed by Eric Gill but lacked stained glass or suitable Stations of the Cross: these last were painted by Eric Gill’s son-in-law Denis Tegetmeier (Father Mac had known the Gill family, though not Eric, while he was a curate at High Wycombe). In 1963 a stained glass window at the east end was installed, it was designed by Joseph Edward (Eddie) Nuttgens, the leading stained glass maker of his time. Early in 1966 Father Mac was taken ill and was away from the parish until May. In September 1966 Father Mac left for St. Pancras Church in Ipswich and was made Dean of Ipswich in 1967.
When the Diocese of East Anglia was formed in 1976 Canon McBride became the administrator of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Baptist and was made Vicar General of the new Diocese. At about this time he produced a booklet on the history of St. John’s. He was a member of the Norfolk Education Committee and was involved in the rejuvenation of the Notre Dame High School in the City. He was chaplain of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital where he had been treated for cancer and was a committee member of the Big C appeal.
In 1988 he moved to Dereham and soon after took up his final duties as parish priest at St. Joseph’s in Sheringham where he was responsible for the sympathetic re-ordering. He remained in charge until the year 2000 and then retired to a flat on the sea front where he remained remarkably active making use of the local shops and local public library and saying Mass at St. Joseph’s whenever he could. He was greatly loved including by many who predeceased him, some were far younger than him. If the congregation was especially blessed at weekday Mass he would conclude with a half smile and perhaps a gentle wave.
Webb, Father Anthony [Tony]
Ordained by Bishop Cyril Restieaux at St Mary’s Bodmin in 1983. Served at Our Lady of the Annunciation, Kiing’s Lynn, Holy Family at Gaywood and St. Felix Haverhill, before movinmg to St. Joseph’s in 2000. In 2007 he left for St. Anthony of Padua in Fakenham.
Berry, Father Richard
Richard Berry was born in Aden in 1911, where his father was an official of the Port Authority. When war broke out in 1914 he returned to England with his mother. They settled in Sheringham with the intention that he would eventually go to Gresham’s School in Holt, but his mother took instruction, presumably under Father Carter, and she and her son became Catholics, and Richard became an altar boy at the local church (presumably St. Joseph’s). In 1925 he went instead to St. Edmund’s College as a lay boarder, leaving at eighteen to work in an insurance company in London. Meanwhile his father, whilst still in Aden, also became a Catholic. Now the whole family, including a younger brother and sister, were united in the Catholic Faith.
In 1931 Richard decided he wanted to become a priest and went to Allen Hall. He was ordained in Westminster Cathedral on 6 June 1937. Fr. Berry was appointed to the cathedral becoming Prefect of the Sacristy, in addition to having some parochial duties. In 1945 he went as assistant priest to Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Bridget, Isleworth. Two years later he was posted to Our Lady of Victories, Kensington, which had been bombed. It was a somewhat chaotic, make-shift existence. The parish priest hired a disused church in Allen Street and Mass was said there and also at a local convent. Whilst at Kensington Fr. Berry started the Kensington Catholic Calendar, a monthly printed magazine. In 1956 he became parish priest at Our Lady of the Assumption, Potters Bar, and whilst there he built a school and introduced Planned Giving.
By 1966 Fr. Berry was Parish Priest at The Church of the Holy Rood in Watford, where he was fortunate in inheriting a parish that had never been in debt. His predecessor, Canon Galvin, had left a considerable sum in the bank. However, some repairs to the fabric of the church were required: the heating system needed improvement and a public address system was desirable. Fr. Berry also had the interior of the church redecorated, Fr. Berry worked hard for the well-being of the parish and sought close co-operation with his parishioners. Unfortunately, from 1973 his health suffered and he had to go into hospital several times, sometimes for surgery. In the fifteen years he was parish priest, four Diocesan assistant priests and four Irish priests worked with him in the parish. Few priests look forward to retirement, but ill-health forced retirement in 1980.
Riddell, Rt Rev. Arthur
Born Paris, 15 September 1836; 3rd s of Edward Widdrington Riddell, and Hon. Catharine, sister of 8th Baron Beaumont; died 15 September 1907. Educated at Downside College and Ushaw College. Ordained priest, 24 September 1859; assistant priest at St Charles’s, Hull, 1859–73; Rector of St Peter’s, Scarborough, 1873–80. Bishop of Northampton consecrated 9 June 1880
Keating, Most Rev. Frederick William
Born 1859; died 7 February 1928. Archbishop of Liverpool from 1921 until death. Educated St Chad’s Grammar School, Birmingham; Sedgley Park; Benedictine College, Douai; Olton Seminary. Ordained, 1882; Administrator of St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham, 1898–1908; Bishop of Northampton, 1907–21.
Youens, Rt Rev. Laurence W.
Died 14 November 1939. Bishop of Northampton since 1933. Missionary work in Egypt, 1899–1902; Priest at High Wycombe, 1902–06; Rector of St Francis Home, Shefford, 1907–33.