The history of Connah's Quay parish and the Blessed Sacrament Church.


History of Catholicism in Connah’s Quay


Nineteenth Century Parishes in North Wales.

Being a Catholic in Connah’s Quay was not easy before the church was built in 1910. The Catholic population had grown slowly during the nineteenth century and it is a remarkable testament to the faith of those early Catholics that the Parish came into existence at all.


Early records from the 1847 Catholic Directory show that there were no Catholics known to be living in Connah’s Quay. The only Catholics listed in Flintshire were at Holywell where the shrine to St Winefride had survived the Reformation and been a stronghold for the faith from medieval times. At this time there were 300 Catholics practising in the Holywell area and 40 at Talacre Hall under the patronage of the Mostyn family. This situation remained unchanged until the 1850s when the faith spread to St Asaph, Mold, Pantasaph, Rhyl and Flint. At that time all these parishes were in the diocese of Shrewsbury but growth was still very slow and in 1870 the bishop commented, “How desolate is a large part of the diocese of Shrewsbury”.


It was not until 1895 that the Diocese for North Wales changed from Shrewsbury to Menevia


Connah’s Quay Catholics.

The first mention of Connah’s Quay in the Catholic Directory was in 1888. It records Connah’s Quay being served from Flint where the parish priest there was the Reverend Edward Byrne.


More than 20 years before the Blessed Sacrament Church was built, Catholics in Connah’s Quay met in other buildings, perhaps private houses or shop premises, to hear Mass and receive the sacraments.  Instruction and confessions were held on the first and second Thursdays of the month and Mass was celebrated on holidays and on the first and second Thursdays at 10am. Baptisms, weddings and funeral services would have been held in the nearest neighbouring Catholic Church and sometimes in the Anglican Parish Church with a Catholic priest officiating.


Like many other parts of Wales, this embryonic Catholic parish in Connah’s Quay kept the faith and survived as a Mission Church.


Struggling Churches and the Plight of Catholic Priests.

Across the border in England there may have been a larger Catholic community but there was still great hardship even in the early years of the new century.  In 1909 the Catholic school in Chester was in such a bad state of repair that state funding was withdrawn from it. There was extreme poverty among the Franciscans in Chester; two of their order, Fathers Dominic and Rudolph, had to resort to begging in Liverpool when they had only one loaf of bread left! Things appear to have been slightly better in Flint where the Catholic Dramatic Society were able to raise money from their performances for the Catholic Mission fund in the borough.


In Connah’s Quay where there was neither church nor school for Catholics, they practised their faith as well as they could and by 1909 services were more frequent; there were weekly Masses celebrated on Sundays at 9am.  Connah’s Quay was still served by Flint which now had two priests: the Rev. Jennings and Rev. Bell. Father Bell was replaced by Father Austin Pozzi who was to have long association with the Catholics of Connah’s Quay.

Father Pozzi (the image below is later in Father Pozzi's career when he was Canon at Llandudno).

A later image of Father Pozzi as Canon of Llandudno

In the book, The Catholic Church in Modern Wales by Donald Attwater, it is claimed that it was Father Pozzi’s energy that enabled a church to be opened in Connah’s Quay in 1911. 


Father Pozzi was a well-known figure and his priestly work was often reported in contemporary newspapers.  In April 1910 the County Herald reported the tragic accident at Connah’s Quay when a Catholic child drowned. Father Pozzi presided over the funeral which was held in the Parish church at Hawarden.


When King Edward VII died in May 1910, Father Pozzi preached to Connah’s Quay Catholics. The County Herald published the services of all the churches and chapels in Connah’s Quay but unfortunately it did not say exactly where Father Pozzi preached to his Catholic congregation on that occasion.  It did, however, record his words.  ‘The Empire’, Father Pozzi said, ‘had been plunged into sorrow by the death of our good King Edward VII, a king who had won the love and esteem of his people, a king whose memory would ever be cherished by his Catholic subjects. We pray also for the Dowager Queen’.


A Growing Town.

The population of Connah’s Quay had been rising steadily since the mid nineteenth century.  Its importance as a port and the growth of its industry had encouraged many people to settle in the area. 


The diocese recognised the urgent need for a church for the increasing number of Catholics and help came directly from the leading Catholic family in the county, the Mostyns of Talacre.  They had fostered one of the first Catholic communities to flourish at Talacre and had probably helped other Catholic parishes to grow throughout the diocese but they took direct action in Connah’s Quay. At this time a member of the Mostyn family, Francis, was also Bishop of Menevia and it was his sister Mary Louisa who took a particular interest in the plight of Connah’s Quay Catholics.


The Mostyns of Talacre.

In September 1909, Connah’s Quay UDC approved of plans to build a church on land opposite the Custom House. This land, according to the Valuation Rate book of 1910, was owned by Bishop Mostyn of Wrexham. The funding came from his sister who had come into her inheritance some years before.


The Mostyn estate had been tied into a settlement at the time of the marriage between Mary Louisa’s parents Sir Pyers Mostyn 8th Baronet and Frances Georgina Fraser.  The terms of this agreement ensured an annual income for Lady Frances and on the death of her husband, a legacy for her children.  In 1886 her two married daughters received £ 4,000 each and her spinster daughter Mary Louisa, £2,000. It is highly likely this was the money used by Mary Louisa to endow our church. 


The Building of Connah’s Quay Catholic Church.

Thoughout the following year the newspapers gave regular progress reports on the new Catholic Church being built in Connah’s Quay. 


County Herald, 12 August 1910: This church which is an imposing structure is rapidly approaching completion with a frontage to the main thoroughfare.


County Herald, 18 November 1910: The new Catholic Church which is near Wepre is approaching completion and the edifice will be opened in the course of a short time.


Before the church was completed, however, a building of a very different nature began to rise alongside it.  Grandly called ‘The People’s Palace’ this was to become known as the Hippodrome theatre.


The Blessed Sacrament.

Eventually the new church opened and the Catholic Directory listed the Blessed Sacrament at Connah’s Quay (1911).  Sunday Mass was at 9am and 10.30am. On  Holy days of Obligation, Mass was at 8am.  Weekday Mass was at 8am on Monday and Thursday.  The first priest at Connah’s Quay was Rev. F.X. Thompson.  Again the Mostyn influence may be seen at work here because Father Thompson’s previous church was at Talacre where he had served for five years.


A plaque in memory of the church’s founder is on the wall near the confessional. It reads:











                                                                                                           Sue Copp - June 2010


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