St Patrick - Holy Cross R.C. Church

Served by the Society of the Divine Saviour - The Salvatorians

The Old St Patrick’s Curch

Today’s St Patrick’s School Hall used to be the old church.

The mission at Plumstead was founded in 1890 when Bishop John Butt commissioned Fr Thomas Whelahan who was the parish priest from 1890 to 1900 to establish a church and school. He organised the founding of St. Patrick’s Church and School in 1893. August 1893 saw the opening of the new Church in Conway Rd (above).

The church was built to serve the Catholic community of Plumstead. It was a growing community made up for the most part by Irish immigrants who had arrived in south-east London in search of work at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich.

When Father Thomas Whelahan’s died in 1906 he left £1179 for the Church to spend on the School building and the building of the Presbytery.

Fr. Thomas Whelahan’s memorial tablet (above) is at the back of the School Hall today.

The Old St Patrick’s, the presbytery and the school beneath in 1911.

Interior today as St Patrick’s School Hall

Interior. The Old St. Patrick’s Church in 1911.

Interior today as St Patrick’s School Hall

Following the death of Fr Whelahan, his successor Father Staunton carried on the good work of building up St. Patrick’s Church and School. Funds were needed to maintain the buildings. Money came from the people of the Parish.

In August 1906, Fr Staunton wrote to Canon St. John to confirm that not only work on the presbytery was finally complete but they had also “taken possession of the building” (See below).

Fr. Arthur James Staunton died in February 1913. His memorial tablet (above) is also displayed at the back of the School Hall today.

By the 1960s the church became too small for its large congregation. At the same time, the nearby Anglican church of St. Paul in Hector Street was closed in 1966 due to its dwindling congregation. Negotiations began between the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark and the Anglican Diocese of Southwark. As it could not be sold as a standing consecrated church, a special Act of Parliament was required to make this possible. In 1968, the Bill passed and received Royal Assent. St. Paul’s became the first standing Anglican church to be sold to the Catholic Church and set a precedent. After some alterations, the church reopened as St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church on 4 July 1969 by Archbishop Cowderoy.

Over the last few years, there has been a considerable reordering of parishes within Southwark Archdiocese. The changes saw Father Michael Branch, the former Parish Priest of St Patrick’s church becoming Parish Priest at St Peter the Apostle, Woolwich.
Since July 2013 St. Patrick’s church, formerly a secular parish has been in the care of the Salvatorians who relocated from The Borough to Plumstead: Father Richard Mway Zeng SDS as Parish Priest of St Patrick, Plumstead along with Father Ponder Paulinus Ngilangwa SDS. Father Richard is also the Superior of the new Community.

St Patrick’s Church today on Hector Street.

Interior – St Patrick’s Church