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10th February 2012

AXMINSTER: Catholic Church celebrating their 150th anniversary

During the weekend Saturday, June 16th to Monday, June 18th, St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Axminster will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the church in June 1862, together  with St Mary’s Primary School, which shares a similar history with the church.

Musical events

During the celebrations, the church and school hall will house various displays outlining their history and sharing floral, artistic and musical events. 

Parishioners and pupils, past and present, and friends who have photographs, memories, etc., are asked for their help with preparations by contacting Father Michael Koppel on 01297 32135 at the church or Mark Brown (headteacher) on 01297 32785 at St Mary’s school.

 Photographs or press cuttings, etc., should be clearly marked with the name, address and telephone number of the owner in order that they can be returned. All contributions will be very much appreciated.

More details will be published later and everyone is welcome to join in.

• On Sunday, May 29th 1862, The Feast of the Ascension, St Mary’s RC Church, Axminster, was officially opened and held its first Mass.

 The church replaced a previous chapel which opened on August 15th 1831. The chapel measured 47 feet in length, 28 feet in width and 22 feet in height.   After the Emancipation Act of 1829, the hierarchy was restored in 1850, by which time the tiny chapel could not accommodate all those who wished to worship there. 

 So in 1854, William Wardell, the renowned designer of Victorian churches, was commissioned to design a new church. 

When plans for the new church were drawn up, it was decided that it should be built of local stone and in the gothic style. Land was also provided for a presbytery, a priest’s garden and a school. The cost was estimated to be £3,000.

PICTURE: CELEBRATING 150 years of worship in Axminster - St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church


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