Our History

 
The Rt Reverend Monsignor Cyril Cowderoy, Bishop of Southwark, laid the foundation stone of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, East Sheen, in November 1953. The Church was officially opened on 9th May 1954. Prior to that date a 'Chapel of Ease' on the site had been in use as an adjunct of St Mary Magdalen's Parish, Mortlake - a use made possible by a gift, from Bertram Bisgood KSG and his brother of two houses in Sheen Road in 1938. The downstairs of one came to be used for worship while a resident curate, Father Edward Fagan, lived on the floor above. Administratively Monsignor Hubert Gibney of Mortlake was Parish Priest.
 
 The new church, the first to be designed by architect Frank G Broadbent FRIBA, set a post war standard. Though smaller through financial constraints than had been at first planned, it was erected in spacious grounds, enjoying a prime site that showed off its beauty.

By June 1956 growth in church attendance had seen Our Lady Queen of Peace become virtually a parish in its own right with Monsignor Bernard Cahill appointed priest - in -charge. He had as his assistant Father (now Bishop) Howard Tripp. In 1957 the congregation regularly topped 600 and an extention to the church became imperative. It was not, however, until 7th July 1959 that the parish was canonically erected.

The builders in April, 1963, moved in to extend the church, delicately preserving the dignity and beauty of the edifice.

In June 1965 Canon Cahill died. The new parish priest was Father Howard Tripp. Aged 38, he was then the youngest parish priest in the Southwark Diocese. He was formally inducted by Archbishop Cyril Cowderoy in November 1965.

In 1966 the Parish became responsible for a new Mass centre, a former Anglican parish hall, in North Sheen. Father Tripp said Mass in the fall for the first time in October that year. The acquisition incurred a £10,000 parish debt. The hall was redecorated by the men of the parish. A month later vandals set fire to Our Lady Queen of Peace church and stole candlesticks. The damage was not serious though a carpet was burnt.

On 26th April, 1971, the parish handed over the hall in North Sheen to Kew parish and nearly two months later, in June - eighteen years after it was originally built – Archbishop Cyril Cowderoy consecrated Our Lady Queen of Peace Church. A legacy from a parishioner, Mrs Marita Speranza, of £20,000 had cleared the parish debt, leaving the way open for the consecration. During the ceremony, two parishioners, Dorothy Clarke and Jack Linehan, were decorated with papal Bene Merenti medals.

On the morning of 23rd September 1971 parishioners were distressed to discover that an outdoor statue of Our Lady Queen of Peace had been vandalised and the head broken off. The church's dedication to the 'Queen of Peace' has been chosen as an invocation of hope in the aftermath of World War II. The statue, restored, was resited over the entrance to the Church.

Early in 1972 Father Tripp was assigned to the Southwark Catholic Children's Society, becoming its secretary and treasurer. He handed the thriving parish over to Father Timothy Nolan, who was parish priest until November 1979.

Frank Broadbent's original design had provided a parish room but not a hall. In 1957 the parish bought an old 'prefab' from Mark Cross for use as a temporary shelter for parish parties, the youth club, First Communion breakfasts, whist drives and other events. Parishioners were keen, however, to replace it with something more substantial and elegant.

Father Nolan set about reordering the church and planning for a new hall. The latter was frustrating task because of site drainage problems and the location of a tree on which there was a Preservation Order. Outline planning permission was eventually granted but before any positive further action could be taken there was a change of parish priest. Father Peter McPolin took on the task of pushing forward the project.

Father Peter McPolin’s stay in the parish was short. In 1981 he gave way to Monsignor Anthony Reynolds who, as bishop’s secretary in 1954, had been present when the church’s foundation stone was laid. The new parish priest set twin targets: the establishment of a Rosary Way in the grounds and the building of the permanent hall.

In one regards Monsignor Reynolds inherited a piece of good fortune. During Father Peter McPolin’s tenure the tree with the Preservation Order was toppled by Act of God. However, it was not the best of times economically. Bank interest rates made borrowing difficult. The plans for the new hall were reviewed and altered.

On 6th July 1983 a flash storm swamped the church and grounds. The weight of two feet of water demolished the north boundary wall which had to be rebuilt and strengthened. It was, perhaps, a blessing in disguise. Priority was now given to the Rosary Way and Faith Winter, a gifted sculptress, was commissioned to execute the plaques set in the restored wall that illustrate the mysteries of the rosary. Different coloured roses were planted to mark each of them.
On 23rd September 1984 Bishop Howard Tripp opened the Rosary Way. The Royal Society of Sculptures awarded Faith Winter its Silver Medal for her work. People regularly visit the Rosary Way to admire the plaques and recite the rosary.
Tony Hemy developed a fresh design for the new parish hall which was finally built in 1992. Admired and used by the local community as well as parishioners, it is a substantial parish asset.

Monsignor Reynolds retired in 1995. The parish then was assigned to Father Michael Boland. In 1997 Sheila Kearvell and Maire Lynch were both decorated by Archbishop Michael Bowen with the papal Bene Merenti medal for devoted service to the Church. In 1998 Father Boland celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his Priestly Ordination.

Father Boland served as parish priest for 14 years. During his time the different groups grew within the parish. He retired in September 2009.

Monsignor William Saunders arrived as parish priest on 1st October 2009. He was inducted by Archbishop Kevin McDonald on 13th November 2009. Monsignor Bill celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his Priestly Ordination on 8th December 2009.  
(Pictures below show how the Church is today)
Church  today       
 Hall today
 
 

CONVENT

In 1959 the Sisters of Charity of St Louis bought and moved into a house next door to the presbytery. The Sisters now help in the Church with the instruction for the children doing the First Communions and Confirmations.
(Pictures below, (1) Sisters of Charity of St Louis with Canon Cahill; (2) Golden Jubilee of Sisters of Charity of St Louis in December 2009 with Bishop Paul Hendricks, Bishop Howard Tripp, Father Michael Boland and Monsignor William Saunders )