This short history of the parish was written by some unknown person (possibly Gil Saunders) in 1983 at the time of the consecration of the present St Peter’s Church in Shoreham, and it was printed in the order of service booklet.

Between 1871 and 1874 negotiations were started by the Duchess of Norfolk and the Rev. William Wheeler for the purchase of a site for a Catholic church in Shoreham.

Rev. William Wheeler had been Vicar of St. Mary's Shoreham, from May 19th, 1843, till December 17th, 1855, when he was received into the Catholic Church by Cardinal Manning, formerly Archdeacon of Chichester,

The Duchess requested the then Bishop of Southwark, Bishop James Dannell that "the site should be (1) a good size, and (2) the expense of building the church put on herself." She also hoped the site would be large enough for a school and presbytery. The site in John Street was bought by Rev. W. Wheeler and another piece of land was procured in North Street for a school,

The Mission was opened in 1874 by Canon Purdon of Worthing. Rev. W. Linnett was in charge of the Mission and lived in 7, Western Road. The church was opened in August, 1875, by Canon Purdon. The Duchess wrote to the Bishop on 7th August regretting he could not attend the opening and requesting that "there may be no speeches and that it may not be forgotten that Fr. Wheeler is the original founder having bought the site."

The school was finished and opened in February, 1876, the Presbytery in February, 1877, as the Duchess wished the school to be finished before the Presbytery was started. An application for Grant was made to the Board of Education for the School. In those early years the Mission was very poor the offertory amounting to an average of £ 33 per year. Fr. Edward Martin was in charge in 1881 until Dr. Wilhelm came,

Damp and faulty drains were a problem from the start. In 1887 Dr. Wilhelm called in Bostel Brothers of Brighton to examine the drains. Dr. Wilhelm reported to the Bishop: "I do not think the report exaggerated having seen fully 120 gallons of water leaking through the pipes in an hour's time and settling under the pantry. Mgr. Searle, who was present at the operation is still suffering from the effects of inhaled sewage gas". Nothing more came of this than the excavation of a passage behind the presbytery.

in 1899, Fr. Walsh was in charge until Dr. Ferris arrived.

The Bishop requested Rev. Mother of Midhurst to give some nuns to Shoreham, as the school was a cause of great anxiety. Dominican Sisters had come in 1887 but only stayed for a short while. Dr. Ferris rented Friars Court and Sisters of Mercy came in 1900 to take charge of the school. The Convent in West Street was built by the Diocese at a cost of £935 and opened in 1904.

In 1902, Fr. C. Fletcher was here for 4 weeks, his expenses being £8,10.8d the total Sunday collections being £4,19.91/2d.

From 1902 to 1913 Fr. Cristall served as Parish Priest. He wrote to Bishop Bourne in 1912; "The church in Ship Street was built in the poorest part of the town surrounded by small houses. Rev. W. Wheeler who gave the land, purposely chose this spot as he said it was such a beautiful idea to have the church in the midst of the poor. I am consequently hemmed in on every side and the piece of land I wish for is rented by my neighbours in which to rear fowls. Dr. Wilhelm raised the question of purchase. The owners would not sell without the purchase of five houses adjacent at the same time. Danger is that a cottage be built and thus cause further hemming in."

1914 — 1916 Fr, Fred Flanagan took charge of the parish. An army camp was established on Mill Hill. Fr. Flanagan said Mass at camp.

1916-— Fr. James O'Donoghue in charge for 14 weeks until the arrival of Rev. F. Hafenden, At that time the Duke of Norfolk informed the Bishop he was withdrawing the £100 per annum given to him to help the Mission. The Parish income at that date was £150 per annum,

1917 — Fr. Haffenden vacated the Presbytery to allowSisters to have repairs to Convent, which had suffered from damp from the beginning,

In 1920 Fr. Haffenden wrote, "the beach is the chief source of parish income and a rainstorm owing to the ferry empties the church." The entire weekly offertory during winter months averaged 30/-.

In 1912 Mr. Easter gifted the land of 9 John Street, but the rent of the cottage to be given to the poor of Shoreham. A Parish Hall was erected, 1930— 1934 Rev. T. Cambourne in charge.

In 1934 Fr. G, Sproston was appointed Parish Priest. A site was purchased at Cokeham Road, Lancing, to build a church. In 1935, Fr. Spillane was lent from Ireland and said Mass at Cokeham Road, Lancing.

In 1937, Fr. G. Sproston accepted responsibility to find a new site for the school as the North Street site had no facilities. The site of the present school in Sullington Way was bought at a cost of £1,962 10/- which sum was paid by an anonymous benefactor.

In 1938, Fr. Francis Corley came to Shoreham as assistant priest, saying Mass in Lancing.

In 1946, the Sisters decided to acquire their own property in Southdown Road, Shoreham. As Fr. G. Sproston found it impossible to keep a housekeeper on account of the damp, he decided immediately to vacate John Street for the premises in West Street.

In 1948 Fr, Tuohy was made the first Parish Priest in St. Paulinus, Lancing.

Attention then focussed on Steyning where Penlands Farm was bought and the barn used as a chapel, the first Mass being said on the Feast of Christ the King in 1949 by Fr. O. Collum who served as assistant from 1948 until 1955, when he returned to Ireland.

In October 1955, Fr Sproston retired and was succeeded by Rev. Dermot McHale.

In 1957 the first instalment of the new school was commenced and was completed in 1962.

In May 1965, the Diocese of Southwark was divided and our Diocese of Arundel and Brighton was established.

In October 1966, Fr D. McHale left Shoreham to become Parish Priest of newly established parish of Christ the King, Steyning. Fr G. Sansom became Parish Priest with Fr J. Stone as assistant.

Our present Parish Priest, Fr John McKay, came on 1st May 1980.

In a letter to Bishop Amigo, 1930, the priest wrote that the people of Shoreham were not interested because a church and house had been given to them. Fr J. McKay’s inspiration and courage have enabled the present beautiful church to be built within one year on the site of the old school.

The first Mass was celebrated by Fr John McKay, assisted by Mgr Pat Olivier on Maundy Thursday evening, 19th April 1984.


Our Parish History

This picture shows the wedding of David and Penny Richardson in the old St Peter’s Church, 1960. Canon Dermot McHale is officiating, and the server is Michael Stringer.