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The history of the Catholic Church in Bosham dates from the 1940's when a Miss Preece would walk up from the village to catch a train to Chichester to hear Mass. Miss Preece died in 1947 and a plaque in the present church reads:
Miss Catherine Joanna Preece
died 19th June 1947
In her will Miss Preece donated the proceeds of the sale of her cottage for the purchase of the land on which this church of Our Lady of the Assumption now stands.
The cottage was Pearces Cottage (now rebuilt) in Taylor's Lane at the junction of Petworth Dairy and the road to Southwood Farm. The land which was bought was then part of Miles Farm, and Fairfield Road, on which the church stands, has its name from the Fair which was held there in May.
The landbought with Miss Preece's bequest was fairly extensive and included much of what is now Fairfield Road. At that time (early '50's) there was an idea that Bosham and Nutbourne might form a separate parish with Bosham housing the Presbytery. Some of the original area of land has since been sold.
In the early 50's funds were raised to build a church. Some of the money was raised from a football pool which was run for many years.
The first church (The Hut) was built and used from 1954. The church was served initially by the priests of the Travelling Mission, based in Uckfield. They covered many rural areas and would celebrate Mass in a particular Mass Centre about every six weeks.
Fr. Tak succeeded Fr. Crawford as parish priest of St Richards in the mid '50's and Horsham became part of St Richards parish. Fr. Tak set about a building programme - the new church in Chichester and our present church in Bosham.
Fr. Langton-Fox succeeded Fr. Tak in 1959. Fr. Wilson continued as curate.
In due course The Hut was declared by the District Council to be unfit for public use and it was condemned. One informant, who was a small boy at the time remembers the straw on the floor which came from the disintergrating seats of the chairs. The Hut was knocked down (and moved to St Phillip Howard School) in the mid 60's.
Canon Dernod Fogarty succeeded Fr. Langton-Fox in 1965. Fr. Wilson and Fr. Maxwell were curates.
The design of the new church was selected by Canon Fogarty and in 1967 construction was started by Messrs Lanner.
The church was opened and blessed by Bishop Michael Bowen (Bishop of Arundel and Brighton) in 1969, and Canon Fogarty dedicated it to Our Lady of the Assumption. 1969 was the year in which this mystery became an article of faith.
In this year the Chichester Observer had a picture of the new church which was nearing completion. It described the building as an outstanding example of modern architecture which fits in admirably with its surroundings and with the old buildings in the
village. The article spoke of the enormous roof span and of the four arches of Douglas Fir which supports the roof. It spoke too of the four great windows. It quoted the final cost as about £30,000.
The crucifix in the porch was given by Meeting Point Bosham when the church was opened.
The two wall sculptures (Our Lady, St Joseph with Jesus as a boy) were donated by a convent as arranged by Arnold Harrison-Thomas. They were designed by Sister Concordia of Minster Abbey.
The vestments were donated.
The Stations of the Cross were obtained by Fr. O'Shea who was by now one of the curates.
The original Crib was given by Mrs Sainsbury of Hambrook and the later, and larger Crib came from the Convent.
In 1974 a Hammond Organ was obtained from Mrs Barbara Barber whose husband had brought it from Washington DC. In 1994 the transformer for this organ was too expensive to replace, and Mr Brendan Walls gave his organ to the church.
The church was licensed for marriages in 1985 and the first wedding was that of Susan Clutterbuck. The first Nuptial Mass was celebrated for the wedding of Sally Ann Messenger.
Meeting Point. This is an association of the three churches in Bosham. It was formed in 1967 when the Vicar was the Rev W D Dinnis, the Parish Priest was Canon Fogerty and the Congrgational Church Minister was Mrs Tizard. The Secretary was Miss Ursula Sharpe. Its aim is to foster Christian beliefs and principles in and around Bosham and to bring together members of the churches.
It organises various events each year - the carol service, a quiet day, the Feastsof Title and Lent Lunches aong them. It is above all ecumenical and is still going strongly.
Bring & Buy for Fr. Stephen Collins. Fr. Stephen Collins is the younger brother of Canon Collins. Fr. Stephen has been a missionary in Africa for most of his priestly life. Some years ago the Catholic community in Bosham decided to mount a fund raising event to send support to him. The event takes the form of a Bring and Buy Sale in the church in October and its takings (up to £2,000) each year are sent immediately to Fr. Collins in Uganda, where his main concern for some time has been the support of widows and orphans of the AIDS catastrophe.
Several parishioners have taken charge of the event each year.