St mary's church, kells

Catholic Lancaster diocese, whitehaven, Cumbria

History

ST MARY’S CHURCH, KELLS HISTORY

The Parish of St Mary’s was originally part of the Benedictine Parish of St Begh’s, however, as the district of Kells developed it became apparent that a Mass centre was needed and on 27 November 1927 a temporary chapel called St Mary’s was blessed and opened by the Right Reverend Thomas Wulstan Pearson OSB.

In 1942 Fr Augustine Kervin OSB, Monk of Belmont, was appointed the first Parish Priest and took up residence in High Road with an assistant priest.

In 1949 Fr Paulinus Lyon OSB succeeded Fr Kervin with far reaching plans for St Mary’s.  Extensions were carried out to the school and the presbytery was built allowing Fr Lyon to move in to be, as he put it “on top of the job”.

His main goal was the erection of a new church to replace the existing building and his dream was fulfilled on 19 December 1961 when this beautiful church was opened by Bishop Pearson.

As part of the build and to observe a Monastic custom of an outside bell ringing for the Consecration Fr Lyon had a half ton bell installed in the tower which was cast by Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the same firm which made “Big Ben”.  At the architect’s suggestion the bell was called “Paulinus” after Fr Lyon and this name was included in the bell casting.

In 1978, having served almost 30 years as Parish Priest, Fr Lyon was semi-retired to St Begh’s due to ill health, thus ending the role of the Benedictines as Parish Priests at St Mary’s.

So it was that Fr Ken Hodgson OBE became St Mary’s first secular Parish Priest having spent a score of years as a Naval Chaplain.  Others who have served as Parish Priest include Fr John Dobson, Fr Bernard Woods and Fr Tom Singleton, Fr Aelred Grugan being the current Parish Priest.