Origins of the Parish


 Saturday 14th July; 11.00 a.m.

 An Introduction to the Origins of the Parish and Tour of the Church

The early history of St. Benet’s (and OLPS, Gillingham) is a fascinating story, linked with St. Edmund’s, Bungay, and the Tasburgh family of Flixton Hall, where a priest was maintained from 1657. The priests who served the Flixton Tasburghs were mainly Benedictines from different communities on the Continent of Europe, though a few Jesuits also lived at Flixton Hall, one of them being Fr John Tasburgh SJ, who left Flixton for Norwich in 1728.

The foundation stone of St. Benet’s was laid by Canon Duckett from Norwich (of Duckett Library connection) in 1899. The church was completed and consecrated in 1908.

St. Benet’s, originally intended as a Priory Church for a small community of Benedictine monks, was designed by Francis Banham, a local architect.

Francis Banham was born in Norwich, but moved to Beccles, where he lived in Grange Road. He is buried in St. Benet’s cemetery, while his mother is commemorated in one of the stained-glass windows of the church.

At about the time St. Benet’s was built, Francis Banham had a student architect, Joseph Fowell, working with him. Joseph Fowell, who was educated by the Dominicans then teaching in Beccles, later returned to his native Australia where he designed over 40 churches in New South Wales and Victoria.

 Besides St. Benet’s (which was never completed in accordance with the original plan), Francis Banham also designed the Chapel for the Sisters of Notre Dame in Norwich, and the churches of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Gillingham, and St. Felix, Felixstowe.

 On Saturday 14th July, at 11.00 a.m., a group of parishioners from Felixstowe together with their parish priest (Fr John Barnes) will be visiting St. Benet’s to hear about the early years of our Parish and to be given a tour of the Church.

After the celebration of Mass at 12.00 noon, followed by a picnic lunch, our guests will visit Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Gillingham (3.00 p.m.). Tea will be provided.

All are welcome to join this special occasion!


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