History - St. Thomas More

1939 - 1990


During the Second World War Mass attendance rose and fell with the ebb and flow of the war and, during this period, the church and presbytery were damaged, but no lives were lost. In thanksgiving, subscriptions provided the beautiful stained glass window over Our Lady's altar depicting the five glorious mysteries of the Rosary. The window was blessed on 8th September, 1946.

In 1961 the Silver Jubilee of the Church was celebrated and a 4.30pm Mass was introduced to cater for parishioners working unsociable hours. Soon afterwards Fr. Webb died after 35 years as parish priest and Fr. William Guinane, who hailed from County Limerick, became parish priest He set about completing the church by lengthening the south side aisle and adding the north aisle and tower in 1969/70.

In response to the guidance of Vatican II, the church was altered, an altar of Connemara marble facing the people, and a font of the same marble was placed in the sanctuary. At the same time, the lady chapel was rearranged and the confessional took the present form of confessional and reconciliation room. A marble stand for the paschal candle by the font was added in memory of Fr. Guinane.

Fr. Guinane died in 1981. For the last year of his life he was seriously ill and Fr. Kenneth McCarthy was appointed parish priest in 1980. During the next four years he gave great encouragement to fund raising and It was decided to build a parish hall and a small car park on the remaining land. The hall was opened in 1984 by Bishop Cormac and is now in daily use. Prior to this, a large wooden building had been donated by the Dutton family and was used for all activities.

In 1990, because of ill health, Fr. McCarthy was transferred to Hailsham by Bishop Cormac and the next parish priest, Fr. Chris Benyon, arrived from Merrow, near Guildford.

In response to a request from the Parish in Council in October 1990, a consultation was held at all Masses as a result of which the 4.30pm Sunday Mass was moved to 6pm on Saturday.