St. Sabina

Bishop Wall arrives for the opening of St Sabina's

About 1904, a Mrs Baldwin (grandmother of Mrs Garwood) came to live in Brightlingsea. She was upset to learn that there was neither a Catholic Church in the town nor any means of getting to Mass on a Sunday (there was no bus service and the train did not run on the Sabbath). So she went to see the parish priest of Colchester, Canon Bloomfield, who told her he was not responsible for Brightlingsea as it came under Clacton parish. Mrs Baldwin, however, persisted, requesting the Canon to supply a priest to say Mass in her front room at 73 Sydney St. He agreed and permission was asked of Archbishop Bourne of Westminster – the Diocese of Brentwood was not erected until 1917 – for the celebration of Mass in Brightlingsea. On 16 November 1904, permission was given to celebrate Mass in the town once a month. Read more…


St. Monica

Mgr John Howell VG opening St Monica's

Mgr John Howell VG
opening St Monica’s

Before St Monica’s Church was built, Wivenhoe’s Catholics attended Mass at either St James’s Church in Colchester or St Sabina’s in Brightlingsea and then in Wivenhoe at St John’s Ambulance Hut, The Greyhound Public House or a room at the “Boys School” (the present Wivenhoe Library site). Mass was sometimes even celebrated in a small stable to the rear of the present church.

In 1908 the first Mass since the Reformation was said in Brightlingsea and just after the Second World War the priest began to travel from there to the old school in the Wivenhoe High St to celebrate Mass. This became a permanent Mass centre in 1958.

In 1960’s, with the population of the village growing so quickly, building a Catholic church was deemed desirable and on the 20 April 1967 this church building of St Monica’s was formally opened by the Vicar General, Monsignor John Howell. Our patron saint was chosen because it was felt that the relationship of St Monica to St Augustine was a parallel with the relationship of Wivenhoe to the university.  Read more…