The Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, has today announced that the church of Our Lady of the Assumption and Saint Gregory, Warwick Street, is being dedicated to the life of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
The historic church, which is situated in Soho, previously served as the chapel of the Portuguese, and later Bavarian, embassies. In the nineteenth century the sanctuary was rebuilt by the architect, J. F. Bentley, who designed Westminster Cathedral. In his ‘Apologia’ Blessed John Henry Newman mentions a visit to the church as a young boy with his father. He converted from Anglicanism to the Catholic faith in 1845and is the patron of the Personal Ordinariate.
Speaking of the news, Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate, said, “We are very grateful to Archbishop Vincent Nichols for this gesture of goodwill and support for the Ordinariate. The church is a beautiful example of ecclesiastical architecture in a very central part of London. We will be challenged to provide a strong Christian witness to those who frequent the surrounding area of Soho. It will also provide a fitting place for the liturgical and spiritual traditions of the Anglican tradition to flourish, in complete union with the Catholic Church. These demonstrate our fervent hope for the realisation of the ultimate goal of all ecumenical work, the restoration of full ecclesial communion”.
"The missionary work of the slum clergy of our Anglican forebears to the marginalised of our society must be at the heart of our mission. We relish the opportunity to engage in this important pastoral ministry, faithfully presenting the teaching of the Catholic Church as the means by which light of Jesus Christ can shine on the dark places of our world. Together with the recent formation of a religious community of former Anglican religious within the Ordinariate this is really good news as we begin 2013".
Read the rest here.
This site includes more detail about the church and its history, including the damage it suffered during the Gordon Riots :
Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory, Warwick Street
This church, which was built in 1789–90, is the sole survivor of the few Roman Catholic chapels which existed in London during the eighteenth century. Its erection was one of the earliest manifestations of the Roman Catholic resurgence which accompanied the gradual relaxation of the penal laws. A smaller chapel, belonging successively to the Portuguese and Bavarian envoys who lived in Golden Square, had stood on part of the site of the present church, probably since 1724, and this long tradition of faith gives the Warwick Street church its unique cachet.
In 1724 the Portuguese envoy moved into the adjoining Nos. 23 and 24 Golden Square and it may reasonably be assumed that a Catholic chapel, to which his diplomatic privileges entitled him, was established there at about that time. Despite the penal laws against the celebration of Mass, his English co-religionists were evidently allowed to worship there unmolested.
The chapel must have been a small building. It was probably adapted from the existing outbuildings between the two houses in Golden Square and the legation stables fronting on to the east side of Warwick Street. A deed of 1700 which refers to the buildings behind No. 23 Golden Square mentions 'the room next the Garden' and an adjoining room containing 'a stove set with dutch tiles and wainscot over it'. It may therefore have been these, or similar buildings behind No. 24, that were subsequently converted into the envoy's chapel. He and his family and staff probably had a private entrance from the houses in Golden Square but the public entry was through a narrow passage from Warwick Street.
The Portuguese legation remained in Golden Square until 1747. Its most famous occupant was Don Sebastian Joseph de Carvalho, later Marquis of Pombal and dictator of Portugal who, soon after his arrival in London in 1739, issued a series of minute regulations governing the conduct of the services in his chapel.
In 1747 the Portuguese legation moved to South Street, Mayfair. The two houses in Golden Square, with the chapel and other outbuildings in Warwick Street, were then taken by Count Haslang, the Bavarian minister, who remained there until his death in 1783; the danger of the chapel being closed by the withdrawal of diplomatic patronage and immunity was thus averted. The priests who served the chapel were technically the minister's chaplains, but in practice they were evidently charged mainly with ministering to the English Catholics in the neighbourhood, of whom in 1780 there were nearly a thousand living in St. James's parish, as well as many more in St. Anne's, Soho. Of the forty-four priests who are known to have served the chapel during its years under Bavarian protection, only three had foreign names.
The statutory relaxation of the penal laws began in 1778 with the passing of Sir George Savile's Catholic Relief Act. This occasioned the formation of the Protestant Association to procure its repeal and eventually culminated in the acts of mob violence which took place between 2 and 13 June 1780 and which have since been known as the Gordon Riots.
Count Haslang's chapel was amongst the first to suffer. On the night of 2–3 June, while another mob was destroying the Sardinian envoy's chapel in Lincoln's Inn Fields, a large party of rioters arrived in Warwick Street from Palace Yard, where the Protestant Association had gathered under Lord George Gordon. The rioters forced an entry and set about the despoilment of the chapel, most of the furniture and fittings being taken out into the street and burnt.
In the Diocese of Southwark, another parish has been established for the Ordinariate at the Church of the Most Precious Blood (from the same Ordinariate website):
|Ordinariate priest appointed to South London parish|
|24 December 2012|
An announcement was made yesterday (Sunday) that the Parish of the Most Precious Blood, Borough, is to be cared for by the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
By the kind invitation of the Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Reverend Peter Smith, the diocesan parish of the Precious Blood near London Bridge station will be cared for by Fr Christopher Pearson - a priest of the Personal Ordinariate - with the permission of the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate, Mgr Keith Newton.
Replacing the Religious Community of the Society of the Divine Saviour (Salvatorians), who currently care for the parish, Fr Pearson will undertake the pastoral care of the diocesan faithful alongside the London (South) Ordinariate Group, who have worshipped in the parish in recent months. Fr Pearson's appointment begins in January 2013.
Mgr Keith Newton said, "We are very grateful to Archbishop Peter Smith and the diocesan authorities for making this possible. It represents a positive moment in the life of the Ordinariate, as we grow towards the establishment of our own parishes and communities".
The parish of the Precious Blood was founded in 1891.