The Presbytery

   Past and Present

Please click on any picture to see it full size

History

On the 3rd July 1890 the founding father of the Parish, Fr Henry James Hardy acquired ‘Elm Cottage’ in St John’s Rd, Boxmoor and opened a chapel in one of its front rooms.

In 1898 he was able to open a small chapel on the other side of the road and this forms part (the sacristy) of the present church.

Elm Cottage (186 St John’s Road) continued to serve as a presbytery (with some additions at the back of the building) until 2010.

From this presbytery Fr Hardy, travelling by pony and trap, served Mass Centres which he set up in Berkhamsted and Tring as well as what his housekeeper described as his ‘missionary journeys’ to Bovingdon and Dunstable.

The house was home to a succession of parish priests and their curates as the parish developed, especially after the second World War when Hemel Hempstead was one of the designated New Towns north of London to which many London based Catholics moved to improve living standards for their families.

More recently it became the presbytery for three of the Hemel parishes as Fr John Byrne became the parish priest for St Mark’s and Grovehill as well as Boxmoor.

Planning

Routine maintenance was carried out intermittently.  However, it became increasingly apparent that the fabric of the original building was deteriorating rapidly and needed major remedial works.  The Diocesan authorities recognised the seriousness of the situation and in 2009, after consultations between the parish, Diocesan authorities and technical specialists, it was agreed that nothing less than a completely new start was needed to ensure a cost effective, long term solution.

This decision led to much debate and heart searching about the best way forward.  Various reconstruction options (including redevelopment of the Church site) were considered and financial calculations made.

The Diocese encouraged the three parishes, under Fr John, to think about what was required for the medium/long term future of their communities in Hemel Hempstead.  Open meetings took place and parishioners were encouraged to put forward their views.

Eventually, a radical solution emerged:

  • that a new Presbytery plus two adjoining maisonettes would be built on the same site

  • a new Parish Office and storage facility would be built to the rear of the adjacent Parish Centre.

Please click HERE to see the Architects’
drawing of the completed Presbytery / Office

All concerned took a deep breath before accepting the Diocesan financial proposition which, whilst generous, required  a large upfront payment and commitment to repay the Diocesan loan. The immediate generosity of St Mark’s and Grovehill parishes was a crucial factor.

The key long term financial benefit will be from the two maisonettes, which will be occupied primarily by retired Diocesan clergy, from which the parish will receive rental income.  This will provide a reliable income for future generations as well as retaining a major building asset.  It is also anticipated that our ’retired neighbours’ will be able to provide a degree of pastoral support to our hard working clergy!

Goodbye (sadly) but the new begins to rise

We had our last look at the presbytery we had known for so long.

The bulldozers arrived in November 2010 and soon reduced the old buildings to rubble leaving an enormous gap to be filled.

Work on the new foundations commenced and then the weather struck – the coldest, snowiest December for many years!  Bricklaying started again in the New Year and good progress was made.   

Our new, modern presbytery, with two adjoining maisonettes, was completed in September 2011 and was officially opened on Sunday 2nd October 2011.

In addition, the new parish office / store provide excellent central administration facilities and storage for the Youth and Scout Groups.

Further Progress

April 2011

The Roof Trusses
Have Arrived!!

April 2011

Our Three Parishes’
New Office

May 2011

The Roof Trusses
Are in Place

June 2011

And Now
We Have Tiles

July 2011

A Clearer View
Without the Scaffolding

August 2011

Rear view of the
Presbytery and Maisonettes

August 2011

All of the Windows
Are Now in Place

September 2011

Finished, At Last!!

Fundraising

A new Fundraising Committee was formed in June 2010 and many social and other events to raise funds have already taken place with plenty more planned.