The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church

St Anne's Church

Roman Catholic Parish of Great Missenden and Wendover: History

history_ihmWhether you are visiting the Church or have recently moved to the parish, we are delighted to welcome you and would like to tell you something about ourselves.

Our parish consists of The Immaculate Heart of Mary in Great Missenden and St Anne’s in Wendover. We have one parish priest who serves both the churches which are some six miles apart.

Great Missenden first supported a catholic community when Missenden Abbey was founded in 1133 and was a religious house for over 400 years until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536.

Since then, Mass had been celebrated in Great Missenden as early as the First World War and from 1938 was part of the parish of Princes Risborough. Sometimes Mass took place in a room above a butcher’s shop and sometimes in private houses or the village hall.

In 1952, Fr Berthold Matthijs, a member of the Belgian Sacred Hearts Fathers, who was visiting the Kent coast, met the Bishop of Northampton, Bishop Thomas Parker. Fr. Matthijs was looking to establish a national centre for the work of the enthronement of the Sacred Heart in England and Bishop Parker needed priests for his expanding diocese.

And so, in July 1954, the new parish of Great Missenden began in ‘The Old Surgery’ purchased by the Dutch Province of the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts and renamed Damien House after the order’s missionary leper priest.

The present Church of IHM was completed in 1964 and blessed by Bishop Charles Grant in July 1964. Over forty years later, in the June of 2007, the church was consecrated by Bishop Peter Doyle.

St. Anne’s first started a weekly Sunday Mass during the Second World War and in 1951 a tiny building on the London Road was blessed by Bishop Parker as a church. Although the church of St. Anne’s was served by the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts it was only in 1958 that it became canonically part of this Parish. Bishop Parker laid the foundation stone for the present Church in 1961. The spirit of ecumenism at St Anne’s culminated in 1987 when Bishop Francis Thomas signed an agreement to share the premises with the Free Church.

The Sacred Hearts Fathers withdrew from the Parish in 1995 to re-focus on missionary activities. We still have links with the order and support their Parish in Acton and their mission in Mozambique.

Diocesan priests took over and we celebrated the extension of the IHM Church and hall one year before the parish jubilee in 2004.