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St Cuthbert's History

1890 - 1891     Father Angelo Lucas from Witham celebrated Mass at Burnham but it is not known exactly whereabouts. He also celebrated Mass occasionally at Maldon.


1898     Land at Southminster purchased in the name of Cardinal Vaughan for future church development.


1900 - 1901     Father Joseph Verres was appointed to Maldon and Mass was celebrated at Burnham occasionally.


Lent 1909     Father Sidney Williams (newly appointed to Maldon) celebrated Mass at Burnham.


September 1910     The Burnham mission was established when Father Harold Burton, formerly a professor at St Cuthbert’s College, Ushaw, Co. Durham, was appointed by Archbishop Bourne as the first resident priest post-Reformation. He had first expressed interest in going to Burnham in January,  but plans to establish a mission at that time were later postponed. Father Burton resided at ‘Claremont’, Church Road, where the front upstairs room was fitted up as a chapel, and started to collect funds to build a church. Although Burnham’s Catholic population was small, the presence of the yachting fraternity in the summer months had led to the decision to make a permanent foundation in the town.


December 1910     Father Burton purchased a site on the corner of Western Road and Chapel Road.


1911     Building of a church began: the architect was Gordon Smart of Lancaster Place, London. A convert, Miss Grace Goadby of Southminster (who had first brought Burnham to the Archbishop’s attention), was a generous benefactress, as was Ushaw College, which loaned money to Father Burton: hence the dedication of the church and mission to St Cuthbert.


20 August 1911     Cardinal Bourne paid his first visit to Burnham.


20 March 1912 (Feast of St Cuthbert)     Cardinal Bourne opened St Cuthbert’s Church. On account of anti-Catholic protests in the town, he was accorded a bodyguard of young men, all of whom attended the ceremony and subsequently became Catholics. The church, built in the Early English style in red brick, comprised a small, aisle-less nave and chancel.


July 1912     Completion of the presbytery as the personal gift of Father Burton. As well as accommodating a resident priest, it was also designed to act as a holiday/convalescent home for priests, hence the wider door frames (to allow passage of a bath chair) and the larger number of bedrooms (four) than would ordinarily have been required.


1916 - March 1919     Father Simon Sullivan served as Missionary Rector (and as Parish Priest from 13 August 1918).

22 March 1917     The County of Essex was separated from the Archdiocese of Westminster to form the new Diocese of Essex (erected as the Diocese of Brentwood on 20 July 1917).


21 July 1918     Bishop Ward (1st Bishop of Brentwood) visited Burnham.


13 August 1918     Burnham was canonically erected as a parish.


March – August 1919     Father Basil Booker served as Priest-in-Charge.


August 1919 - October 1927     Father Thomas Smith served as Priest-in-Charge and (from 9 December 1919) Parish Priest.

1920     Debt on church was finally paid off.


3 July 1922     Bishop Doubleday paid his first visit to Burnham.


1923     Installation of the first stained glass windows in the church (the work of the studio of Nathaniel Westlake, one of the leading stained glass artists of the Gothic Revival).


October 1927 – October 1935     Father John Joyce served as Parish Priest.


October 1935- April 1940     Father George Steadman served as Parish Priest. He started the pilgrimage to the ancient chapel of St Peter, Bradwell-juxta-Mare. He also served the Catholic cadets aboard the Merchant Navy Training Ship Exmouth (which evacuated in 1940 on account of the threat of invasion).


11 June 1938     Father John Ryan (a parishioner and former altar server) was ordained to the priesthood at Brentwood Cathedral.


April 1940 - October 1950     Francis Branney served as Parish Priest. He also celebrated Mass for the troops stationed at Southminster and Tillingham, and at Bradwell Aerodrome, travelling by motorcycle.


1943     Large numbers of Irish farm workers at Fambridge led to an abortive plan for a chapel-of-ease in the village. However, Father Branney considered a chapel to be necessary at Bradwell, especially if its military aerodrome was to become a civilian airport after the war.


October 1950 - January 1955     Father Vincent Dutton served as Parish Priest.


1951 - 1956     Mass celebrated periodically at Tillingham by the Diocesan Travelling Mission.


February - September 1952     Father Bernard Wakeling served as Administrator during the absence on sick leave of Father Dutton.


March 1952     Providence Hall, Orchard Road (purchased by Father Branney in the late 1940s for use as a parish hall), was conveyed to ownership of the diocese.    


September 1952 – March 1953     Father Denis Petry served as Priest-in-Charge pro tem during the absence on sick leave of Father Dutton. Supply work was also undertaken by the Mariannhill Fathers from Hatfield Peverel and by Father Francis Dobson (Diocesan Travelling Missioner).


January 1955 – February 1962     Father Stephen Keane served as Parish Priest.


1956 - 1961     The large number of Irish labourers (up to 900) engaged on the construction by McAlpine’s of Bradwell Power Station led to the appointment of Father James Donnelly  and then Father Thomas McGeough (both on loan from the Archdiocese of Armagh) as their resident chaplain. When the Irishmen departed the site, some settled locally.


March 1962 – March 1963     Father John Duckett served as Parish Priest.


March 1963 - August 1968     Father Francis Hastings served as Parish Priest.


1963 – 1967     Sunday Mass was celebrated (from Burnham) at the Railway Hotel, Southminster.


1964 – 1968     Mass was celebrated periodically at The Swan Inn, Tillingham, by the Diocesan Travelling Mission.


1966-1967     Church was liturgically reordered and also enlarged by the addition of a porch and the Lady Chapel. The West gallery was removed and likewise the East (sanctuary) window.


12 April 1967     Church consecrated by Bishop Wall.


August 1968 – September 1970     Father Brian McWilliams served as Parish Priest.


September 1970 – September 1979     The Mill Hill Missionaries assumed responsibility for the parish. Father John Hawes M.H.M served as Parish Priest (assisted by Edward Sloane M.H.M. 1976-1979).


1971 - 1975     The Franciscan Missionary Sisters of St Joseph (Mill Hill) resided in Dunkirk Road to assist with parish work


1978     Parish Hall built.


September 1979 – October 2005     Father Gerard Murphy served as Parish Priest and also as Chaplain to Chelmsford Prison (1980-1999). When Father Murphy was absent on sick leave (2004-2005) weekend supplies were provided by Fathers Brian McGilloway and Stewart Foster.


1980- 2005     Sunday Mass celebrated at St Barnabas C of E, Maylandsea.


October 2005     Burnham linked with Maldon (and served from there).


October 2005 – October 2006    Father Bernard Soley served as Parish priest (resident at Maldon).


October 2006 – October 2015    Father Peter Connor served as Parish Priest (also serving Maldon).


October 2015     Father Mark Reilly appointed as Parish Priest (resident at Maldon).

Catholic Parishes of

Burnham-on-Crouch and Maldon


Sunday Mass Times


Saturday Confessions 4pm

Saturday Vigil Mass 5pm

Sunday Mass 9am

Weekday Mass times see Newsletter



Sunday Confessions 11am

Sunday Mass 11.30am

Weekday Mass times See Newsletter

Contact Us

The Parish Priest

Assumption of Our Lady Catholic Church

60a Victoria Road





Tel: 01621 852259

Email :




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