Parish History

The Reformation to 20th Century Mass Centre – until 1905

In the Middle Ages, the area now served by St Joseph’s was split between All Saints in Kingston and St John the Baptist in Old Malden. Kingston has always been of strategic and economic importance (seven Anglo-Saxon kings were crowned there in the 900s, hence why it is a Royal Borough), and in 1100 a bridge was built there – only the second across the Thames after London Bridge.
The Domesday Book (1086) mentions a chapel at Old Malden, thought to be the present site of St John’s Church, which was a small village owned by the Augustinians of Merton Priory. Walter de Merton (Chancellor of England under Henry III), established a college of priests in Malden to look after the property belonging to Merton College Oxford, and in 1309, Richard Lovekyn founded the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene in Kingston (on the corner of the present Tiffin’s School), for the celebration of a daily Mass for the Faithful departed.
Our ‘local martyr’ is Blessed William Way, martyred at Kingston on 23rd September 1588. During penal times, Catholics in Malden were served either by priests from Richmond (which as the home of Queen Henrietta Maria, the Catholic French wife of Charles I enjoyed royal protection), or Cheam (a local recusant house), until the hierarchy was restored with the new Diocese of Southwark in 1850. Responsibility for New Malden first lay with the Parish Priest of Kingston, until St Raphael’s in Surbiton was opened in 1855.


Mass Centre to Mission – 1905 to 1909

Fr Caspar Lutz
Until 1894 this was the sole place of worship for Catholics in New Malden, until the new St Agatha’s on King’s Road, Kingston was opened (often described as St Agatha’s in Norbiton). The first priest there, Fr Caspar Lutz, took a particular interest in New Malden, and it is through his determination that in 1905, with the support of Bishop Peter Amigo, a medium-sized house on the corner of Kingston Road and Montem Road called ‘Inglenook’ was purchased for £1,800 (second time lucky, he’d first tried in 1902), with the help of an anonymous benefactress, Miss Frances Ellis, who throughout her life gave over £130,000 to the Diocese of Southwark.
The purchase of ‘Inglenook’ was completed in April, and by October, alterations had been made to the house to create a new Mass Centre. The large ground floor room, from the front to the back of the building was converted into a chapel, and a small room on the other side of the house was converted into the Sacristy. Upstairs, the top floor was let to private tenants, who were replaced in 1908 by three nuns from the Congregation of the Ladies of the Nativity.The first Mass was celebrated at 9am on 15th October 1905, with a Catechism Class in the afternoon, and the Rosary, Sermon and Benediction in the evening.


Bishop Peter Amigo

Mission to Parish – 1909 to 1949

Fr Eugene O’Sullivan
In 1907 Fr Lutz was succeeded as Parish Priest of Kingston by Fr Eugene O’Sullivan, and he resigned in 1909 to give his whole attention to the Mission at New Malden. One of the first events of the new Mission was a procession of the Blessed Sacrament – establishing the parish’s continuous devotion to the Eucharist – enhanced today with Eucharistic Adoration in the Church every Thursday. The nuns moved out of ‘Inglenook’ to a large house over the road, which later became council offices and was rebuilt as the library.
By 1915, there were between 100 and 150 regular worshippers, so Mass in the presbytery was no longer practicable. Bishop Amigo offered financial help for the construction of a new church, and although plans were delayed by the First World War, permission was granted to build the church on the site of ‘Inglenook’ in 1921.The Lady Chapel and the South Aisle (Kingston Road side) were completed by 1923, which provided seated for about 124 of the 200 or so regular worshippers, at a cost of £3,607. Unfortunately, there was a difference of opinion between Fr O’Sullivan and the then architect Osmund Bentley. Bentley was sacked and replaced by Adrian Gilbert Scott.
An architect’s drawing of the proposed church
Under his direction, the Nave, North Aisle (Sacristy side), the Transepts (the North Transept is now where our Music Groups ‘live’, and the South Transept the St Pius X Chapel), the Baptistry (now the Sacred Heart Chapel), and the Organ Gallery were all completed by 1928, accounts published in the Mission Magazine totaling the cost so far at £9,552.By 1931 the Sanctuary and Upper Aisles (connecting the Lady Chapel to the rest of the Church) were completed – the total cost of the new Church, excluding interior decoration and furnishings, was £13,500. This was funded by £2,000 from a diocesan fund, the Murphy Bequest, another £500 from the Diocese, and a magnificent £7,771 from the 250 worshippers of the Church, collected between 1922 and 1929. A new presbytery was built in 1929, and in 1931 the first Parish Hall was erected, and doubled in size in 1937.
The high altar in the 1920s
St Joseph’s during the 1940s/50s
Until 1923, the Church was dedicated to St Egbert – an obscure Northumbrian monk. Fr Lutz had been against the idea, he’d favoured a dedication to ‘Our Most Holy Redeemer’, and among the ten reasons for this that he submitted to Bishop Amigo, was one that “the dedication should appeal to ‘Nonconformists’ who infest New Malden”. However, the bishop had insisted upon St Egbert, and it was not until Fr O’Sullivan’s second attempt in 1923, that the dedication was changed to St Joseph (he first petitioned the bishop in 1919).
Fr O’Sullivan died at the age of 84, on 28th November 1948. By this time, there were between 600 and 700 worshippers at St Joseph’s, and it was clear that the time had come for the Mission to be raised to a Parish. St Joseph’s was raised to the rank of ‘Parish’ on 19th March 1949, and under the direction of the new priest, Fr Hugh Hunt (later Mgr), the inner roofs of the aisles were panelled, side altars built, new statues enshrined, and the complete set of vestments and other apparel appropriate for a parish church acquired.
Mgr Hugh Hunt


The Consecration and beyond… – since 1951

Preparing for the dedication of the church
By 1951 all of the debts had been paid, and so the new bishop, the Right Reverend Cyril Cowderoy, consecrated the church on Thursday 13th September 1951.Further developments to the Church came in 1954 with a shrine to Our Lady, overlooking Kingston Road “to remind the world that England is Our Lady’s Dowry”, which was consecrated by Bishop Cowderoy on 20th May, and the bell which was hung in September of that year, in anticipation of the Golden Jubilee of the foundation of the Mass Centre in 1905. This bell still summons people to Mass every day (except for the 7am one!).
Bishop Cyril Cowderoy consecrating St Joseph’s
The latest development is our ‘new’ Parish Centre – building work started in September 2005, and it was officially opened by Bishop Paul Hendricks on 15th September 2006.A more detailed History of St Joseph’s, written by Fr Julian Shurgold, is available at the back of the Church.
St Joseph’s in 2009