Parish History


In addition to those members of the parish whose deaths are recorded in this book there are very many others who have contributed to the parish being what it is today. Their memory and service to the catholic church in this area is only recorded by the history that they helped to create.

This history has largely been written from peoples memories. In addition reference was made to the following sources:

“The Strange Life of Charles Waterton” by Richard Aldington
“Deeping Remembers” by N Long
Nottingham Diocesan Yearbook 1989 (Ed Fr. Michael Bell)
Minutes of the Altar Society of Our Lady of Lincoln and St Guthlac—Deeping St James.

The existence of the Catholic Community in the Deepings since the Reformation owes much to the Waterton family.

Charles Waterton

Charles Waterton was born on 3rd June 1782 and died in 1865. The 27th Earl of Walton Hall near Wakefield in Yorkshire. His family had survived the Wars of the Roses but were deprived of most of their property during the Reformation because they remained faithful to the Roman Catholic Church. He claimed decent from St Thomas More through his grandmother.

He travelled extensively in South America, observing and collecting specimens of natural history and was an authority on the flora and fauna of that country. He perfected an unique method of taxidermy and his large collection of stuffed animals is preserved at Stonyhurst, the Jesuit College where he was educated.

In 1829 he married Ann Edmonstone, whose mother was the granddaughter of an Indian Chief and was descended on her father’s side from Robert I and Robert II of Scotland, and also Lady Godiva. She died in 1830, three weeks after giving birth to Edmund.

Charles was, perhaps the first ‘conservationist’ in this country. He turned the grounds of Walton Hall into a bird sanctuary and a safe habitat for wild life.

Edmund Waterton

Born 1830
Died 1887
Knight of the Sacred Order of Christ
Knight of St John
Papal Privy Chamberlain to Pope Pius IX

Edmund also travelled extensively but collected religious artefacts, some of which are in the British Museum. Still in place in the present Catholic Church is a stone font and a wooden crucifix thought to be bought from Caen Cathedral in France dated about 1300 AD, and a wooden statue of Our Lady dated about 1500 AD. The statue is from Boulogne Cathedral.

In 1876 he sold Walton Hall and bought Deeping Manor in 1879. The Manor stood in the land between Bell Lane and Hereward Way, Deeping St James. In 1880 on land to the east of Church Lane behind Hereward Way he converted a stable into a church and this church was used by his family and the small Catholic community until December 1968, when the new church on Hereward Way was completed.

The Waterton Chapel                             Inside The Waterton Chapel

In 1862 he married, and his wife, Josephine, bore him six children. She died in Cannes, France in 1879 and her body was brought back to England to be interred in the chapel. Edmund was interred beside her when he died in 1887.

As the Catholic community grew, permission was granted by the Home Office in the late 1950’s, to re-inter the bodies within the chapel below ground. This afforded more space in the church.

In 1891 Edmund’s eldest son sold the Manor House to the Marques of Exeter but the church remained the property of the Waterton Family and continued to be used by the Catholic Community.

The chapel was served by priests from Spalding (1880—1895) and from Stamford (1895—1917). Mass was celebrated in this chapel every Sunday until 1917. Although, out of a population of 1700 in Deeping St James in 1878, not a single catholic was to be found, five years later the village boasted twenty Catholics.

Xaverian Brothers

The Manor House

In 1919 the Manor House was rented to the teaching order of Brothers as a novitiate. They bought it in 1932 and in 1940, after the outbreak of the Second World War; their boys preparatory school at Foxhunt Manor in Sussex was evacuated to the Deeping Manor. In 1945 after a serious fire in the Manor House, the school was moved back to Sussex and the Manor House reverted to a novitiate.

In 1952 a local businessman bought the house and grounds. The land on which it stood extended from Manor Way to the west, Broadgate Lane to the north, Church Street Deeping St James to the south, and Hereward Way to the East. It was agreed that some of the land should be reserved for a new and bigger Catholic Church, which would be built at a later date.

The Brothers are remembered by the older residents of the Deepings for their concern for the welfare of the people during the years of economic depression in the 1930’s. The length of the river bank adjacent to the Manor House became known locally as “The Catholics”.

The Priests who ministered to the Brothers also ministered to the Catholic Community and when the Brothers left, the church was left without a permanent priest, vestments, altar linen and the artefacts necessary for the church services. To deal with this situation, missionary priests came and the Altar Society was formed.

One of the Brothers kept a scrap book. Some extracts from this are given in the obituaries section of this book.


During the 1940s and early 1950s catechism classes were taken by Brother Godric, Superior of the Xaverian Brothers. At that time the instruction mainly consisted of learning the catechism off by heart.

After the Xaverian Brothers left in the early 1950s the classes were continued by the Parish Priest.

In 1976 Lay Catechists started to teach the children and prepare them for the sacraments of Confession, Communion and Confirmation

Altar Society

The community was served by priests of the African Missions from Ireland, and then by priests of the travelling mission in England.

The Altar Society was formed by a very small group of women in 1953. Their task was to care for the church, to provide the necessary vestments etc., to raise money to support the priest, to provide his food and lodgings and to care for him. This tradition continued until the early 1990’s, even though there was a permanent parish priest, with parishioners providing breakfast for the priest after Sunday Mass. They were helped in this task by many of their non catholic friends and relatives.

In January 1957 Fr. Jordan was appointed Parish Priest by the Bishop of Nottingham, and the Catholics of Deeping became a parish.

Early Fund Raising

In the mid 1940s, just after the war, Mrs Van Der Weyden then in her 30s.. decided to hold what must have been one of the very first, (if not the first) fund raising activity for the new Church. However the planned whist drive in the garden was doomed by heavy rain BUT after much persuasion Brother Philip in the Waterton College across the road (remember there was no Hereward Way then and Mrs Van Der Weyden’s property bordered on the grounds of the College) allowed the function to be held in the College's "big room" (much against the then rules regarding the

admission of ladies into what was an all male noviciate). It was apparently a great success and started the "financial ball rolling" for the new Church with a profit of nearly £100.

The fund raising continued into the 60s with weekly bingo sessions in the Three Tuns pub on the Deeping St James./ Market Deeping border (now flats opposite the Fish & Chip shop).

Extensive funds were also raised by selling "Rupert" tickets for many years around the villages.

The early Strawberry Fayres were held in Mrs Ramsdon's garden in Millfield Rd. Market Deeping. The

garden then was a lot bigger than now as Mrs Ramsdon. had a donkey in the end paddock!

After a few years the Strawberry .Fayre. relocated to Mr Garford's field (on the RHS as you cross the Market Deeping. River bridge on the Peterborough road). It became quite a grand affair, one year it took the form of a "Hog Roast".

One of the other main fundraisers throughout the 60s & 70s was Mrs. Connie Curley’s weekly “Thrift Stall” held at her house in Halfleet Market Deeping. It was a kind of home spun charity shop cum bring & buy. Kitty Long was deeply involved with the running of the stall with Connie for many years.

The Sacred Heart Fathers

The Sacred Heart Fathers are a Missionary Society and Fr Jordan was the first one to serve the Deeping Parish. He was resident at Corby Glen and served Bourne and Deeping as well. Gerry Van der Wayden was the “Churchwarden” at Deeping and Martin Cuff at Bourne.

Fr Jordan was followed by Fr. Jones in 1961, Fr. Durkin in 1964, Fr. Peppard in 1970 and Fr. O’Sullivan in 1978.

In 1964 the Manor Park Estate was well under way in development and a site was allocated for a Catholic Church. It had to be built whilst the estate was under construction and so the enormous task was undertaken by Fr Durkin and his parishioners. The church was completed in December 1968 and the first service there was the Mass at Midnight for Christmas 1968. Sadly the ‘Waterton Chapel’ had to be abandoned and it was many years before the, by now scattered, Waterton descendants could be traced. Eventually permission was given for the remains of their ancestors and those of the family retainers who were buried in the grounds, to be placed to rest in the cemetery of the Parish Church of Deeping St James. This re-internment took place in June 1988 in the presence of two direct descendants of Edmund Waterton. The chapel and land were then sold.

Father O’Sullivan died ‘in harness’ in 1984. By that time the parish was a mission field no longer and as the Sacred Heart Fathers were suffering a shortage of priests they felt that their missionary vocation was no longer needed. The district was therefore reorganised with Corby Glenn being transferred to the Grantham Parish and a new Parish, which is known as Bourne and Deeping, was formed. The Bishop of Nottingham appointed his diocesan priest; Fr J O’ Hanlon as Parish Priest of this new parish.

On 27th September 1984 the congregations of Bourne, Corby Glen and Deeping St James gathered to say goodbye to the Sacred Heart Fathers. They held a mass of thanksgiving at the Church of Our Lady and St Guthlac for the work done by the Fathers in 29 years of service to the parish.

Two presentations were made to the Sacred Heart Fathers after the mass. They were a new set of vestments made by Mrs Gina Browne of Corby Glen, and a picture of the interior of the Deeping St James church, made by Susan White (20) a deaf and partially sighted resident at the Manor House, Deeping St James.

The chief celebrants of the mass were the Very Rev Michael Bell (Dean of Grantham): the Rt Rev Mgr. E Hugh Atkinson, Vicar General, who represented the Bishop of Nottingham: the Very Rev Henry Allard, SCJ Provincial Superior of the Sacred Heart Fathers. The preacher was Rev Anthony Doland, diocesan archivist.


The following have served as Sacristans of the New Church: -

Michael Van Der Wayden—now moved to Spalding
Laurie Long—now moved to Bourne
John Jackson—RIP
Jim Burke—Now ordained as a Priest of the Diocese
Pat Burke
Barbi Ragget and Kat Keywood

Action Group

After Fr. Jordan had been appointed Parish Priest in 1957 the ladies of the Altar Society made more and more calls on the men of the parish, particularly their husbands, to assist. The men therefore decided to form their own group and the Action Group was born to take responsibility for the maintenance of the church and to raise funds to pay off the debt incurred in building the new churches at Deeping and Bourne. The first chairman was David Garford and the group met in a local hostelry. Initially it was a group of men from both Bourne and Deeping but in later years consisted of only Deeping parishioners. The main fund raising event organised each year was an annual fete know as the Strawberry Fayre. This proved so successful that it continued long after the debt had been repaid. The Altar Society and Action Group co-operate together to organise many parish socials and special events, which have included The Farewell to the Sacred Heart Fathers, and Fr. O’Hanlon’s Silver Jubilee.

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

In 1985 four parishioners from Deeping and Bourne with Fr O’Hanlon attended the RCIA conference in Leicester, which was organised by the Nottingham Diocese. A group was then formed to assist the priest in preparing adults for reception into the church.

Eucharistic Ministers

In 1985 four parishioners from Deeping attended a formation course to become Eucharistic Ministers and were commissioned by the Bishop of Nottingham to assist the Priest with the distribution of Communion at Mass and to take communion to the sick and housebound. Over the years further ministers have been trained and commissioned.

Ordination of Fr Jim Burke

In 1994 an historic event occurred in the parish. The Bishop of Nottingham ordained one of our parishioners Jim Burke as a priest of the diocese. This was the first time that an ordination had taken place in the Deepings for 500 years. Fr Jim Burke was initially appointed to the Cathedral and then as a curate at St Mary Derby. This was followed by his first appointment as parish priest to New Mills in Derbyshire.

St Vincent de Paul Society

A few parishioners formed a Conference of the St Vincent de Paul Society. The first meeting was held on 4th December 1985. The society visited the sick and housebound both at Bourne and Deeping, and arranged Christmas parties for the senior members of the Parish. The Conference is twinned with one on the Mallabar Coast of India and provides financial support for them. In addition they help at the St Teresea Centre in Peterborough for the homeless and assisted Age Concern with the their Lunch Club for the elderly.

The Conference went into abeyance on 31st December 2002 as the majority of the members had reached an age when the rules of the society would no longer allow them to hold office and there were insufficient younger members to take over. These parishioners still continued to carry on the work they were doing and visiting the sick and housebound as individuals.

Diocesan Assembly

In September 2002 Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP invited the whole diocese to share in an ongoing conversation, which would shape the future, desiring to reap the rich harvest of our very diverse community. In launching a year of preparation he invited all to take time to reflect on what it is to be Church in the Diocese of Nottingham and to be part of drawing up a creative plan for the future of our diocese.

Our Parish responded to his invitation and formed three Groups at Deeping and four at Bourne which met regularly over the year.

During the Year of Preparation, lectionary based materials were offered to help us to reflect on four key questions: -


What do we need to carry with us?

What do we need to let go?

What can we do better together that we now do apart?

What might God be asking us to do?

The discussions were held in four stages that corresponded to the seasons of the church’s year. The parish provided a report and recommendations from each of the groups to the diocese at each stage.

After this Year of Preparation almost 500 people gathered at Loughborough University from 18th to 21st September 2003 for The Diocesan Assembly. The assembly was attended by four representatives; the Deacon, two from Bourne and one from Deeping where they worked with the other representatives to plan for the future. Following the Assemble the Bishop commissioned a follow up team to take the recommendation forward. Representatives from the parish are cooperating in the ongoing process.