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Church opening was landmark day for port's Catholics

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 29, 2012

  • abandoned: The old Roman Catholic Church on Cavern Hill in Brixham in 1971, now used by the local operatic society

  • bishop: The opening of new Catholic Church in Brixham in March 1967

  • procession: Choirboys lead the procession at the opening of new Catholic Church in March 1967

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FOR centuries it can't have been easy being a Roman Catholic in Brixham.

It was here in 1688 that the Protestant King William of Orange landed with 35,000 troops to begin the march on London which ended hopes of a Catholic succession.

The fishing community which flourished in the 19th century remained overwhelmingly Protestant and low-church at that.

During the last year of his life Henry Francis Lyte, vicar of All Saints and author of the hymn Abide With Me, lamented the defection of many of his congregation to the Plymouth Brethren.

But the Roman Catholic community of Brixham did come together and worshipped for many years at a small church in Cavern Hill.

By the mid-60s, the congregation was growing and looked to pastures new. On a former crochet lawn in New Road they built the Church to Our Lady Star of the Sea. My old friend Tony Key tells me it cost £46,000, which they borrowed and then paid off over the next nine years. It opened in 1967 and was consecrated on March 8, 1972.

It is an unusual building with a car park on the roof.

Our pictures today recall those early days, landmark ones for the Roman Catholics of Brixham.

The old church on Cavern Hill became Bovey School but is now used by the Brixham Operatic and Dramatic Society.

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