The Catholic Parishes of Barking & Ilford Lane, Diocese of Brentwood, Reg. Charity No. 234092

Saints Mary & Ethelburga, Barking

In the early 1850's, Fr. James McQuoin (from Stratford) of the Archdiocese of Westminster had placed great emphasis upon the work of the schools of the mission. He was keen to establish a chapels-of-ease in the outlying parts of his mission. It appears that there was already a small, makeshift Catholic school at Barking by the time Father McQuoin took charge at Stratford in 1856.

On 29 December 1856 a plot of land on Station (now Linton) Road, which was one of the new streets laid out to the west of Barking Station was set aside for a new school. Lord Petre had purchased the freehold of a plot of land on which a church and presbytery might eventually be built. The first building to be erected was a schoolroom which would serve as a chapel until the resources to build a permanent church became available.

In January 1860 Barking was separated from Stratford and became an independent mission with its first resident priest, Father J. Cleary. In September 1865, Father James Gilligan took the mammoth task to raise funds and build the Church. It took years of efforts to gather funds, writing many appeals & requests via The Tablet (International Catholic weekly newspaper) and personally influencing others to donate for this cause.

Father Gilligan's prayers, and indeed those of his congregation, were finally answered on Tuesday 10 August 1869, the day on which the new church dedicated to St Mary and St Ethelburga was opened by Archbishop Manning. The church was build to the designs of Edward Welby Pugin, son of the celebrated Catholic architect Augustus Welby Pugin.

Some interesting Events/Facts:

Barking was dominated by its great Abbey, founded in 666 and dedicated to St Mary (and from the tenth century to St Ethelburga also), which owned 20,000 acres of land, both in the immediate vicinity and in other parts of Essex.

From 5 November 1857, Sunday Mass was celebrated monthly at 9.00 a.m. the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered for the first time for three centuries in the town of Barking. The Parish extended from East Ham to Grays.

The exact location of the schoolroom-chapel was to the west of the permanent church which would be built in 1869 and adjacent to the grounds of Red Lion Inn in North Street. The Red Lion (formerly The Blue Boar) was one of Barking's ancient hostelries

The Parish had 2 schools St Joseph's School, Morley Road, was opened in 1927, and early in 1928 St. Ethelburga's School, Linton Road, was reorganized as a senior school.

In March 1978 work on building a new church commenced. The church was first used for Sunday Mass on 20 May 1979 and it was formally opened by Bishop Casey on 11 October 1979, the feast of St Ethelburga. The new Church incorporated a number of features removed from its predecessor, In particular, a number of the existing stained glass windows, the holy water stoup, The gothic stone tablet in memory of Father Gilligan etc...

Father Young, initiated the construction of new belfry in time for the Jubilee of 2000. The existing Angelus bell of the original church in 1867 which was tolled up until 1940, was now placed with three new bells in a purpose-built belfry to make a ring of four bells.

Reference: The Catholic Parish of Saints Mary & Ethelburga, Barking written by Father Stewart Foster