A New Church
The mission grew from strength to strength and by 1907 the congregation numbered 150, with school attendance at 60. In time plans were made for a larger, more permanent church. This was the brainchild of Fr Thomas Moloney, who bought the current presbytery and acquired the land that stood at the back so that a church could be built. The foundation stone was eventually laid on Low Sunday 1931 by Archbishop Alban Goodier, an English Jesuit who had been Archbishop of Bombay between 1919 and 1926. The new church was designed by the diocesan architect, T. H. B. Scott, whose other churches included those at Cricklewood, Hendon, Muswell Hill, Parsons Green and Shoeburyness. It was built of brick in the Romanesque style, seating 350. The church was built quickly and opened by Cardinal Bourne on 29th September 1931.
Churches can only be consecrated once the debt is cleared and this typically took decades. It is a testament to Fr Moloney’s administrative ability that Our Lady of Lourdes and St Michael was ready to be consecrated on 14 May 1936, less than five years after its opening. The ceremony was performed by Bishop Patrick Casey of Ross, a seminary classmate of Fr Moloney, and the ritual took three hours and forty minutes.
The building of the church was made possible, in part, by the generosity of the Gilbey family of Denham. The Gilbeys were well known wine merchants and (from 1872) distillers of gin. William Crosbie Gilbey and his wife Margarita (from the gin family of Gordon) are memorialised in a plaque near the Lady Altar and a number of Gilbeys were baptised at Our Lady of Lourdes and St Michael. Of particular interest is Peter Hubert Gilbey, baptised in 1914, who later became a Benedictine
monk at Ampleforth Abbey. In 1958 Dom Gabriel Gilbey, as he was now known, inherited from his mother the title of Ninth Baron Vaux. He became the first Catholic monk since 1559 to take a seat in the House of Lords.
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