Parish History

Wiveliscombe: St. Richard 

 Wiveliscombe was for some years a separate parish with its own priest. Catholics originally met wherever they could find an available room. This reputedly included hired rooms in local public houses, and for awhile, a room in the town hall chambers. A mission was started there by Bishop Lee in 1942, the priest serving the community being Fr. (later Canon) Ronald McDonald. A church dedicated to St. Richard was opened above a shop in Silver Street on 26 July in that year with the priest living in the adjoining house. In 1953 an architect's and surveyor's report mentioned the poor state of both church and presbytery, and the poor condition of the church was again raised in 1960. At some point around this time concern about the strength of the floor led to the church being moved from the first floor to the ground floor to occupy what is now a newsagent's shop. News that the buildings might have to be demolished for road widening gave the parish the incentive to look for a new site. Parishioners therefore set about raising the money for a new building. At this time the diocese owned a site of one and a half acres, but this was zoned for industrial use. In 1965 outline planning permission was granted for this land to be developed industrially, and the following year the diocese sold part of it for £2,300. 

Meanwhile a possible venue was found at 34 Church Street. This comprised a detached house, and an adjoining property belonging to B.J. Lang≠don and Sons, egg and poultry packers, which could be demolished. Negoti≠ations resulted in a price of £8,000. The new church was opened by Bishop Rudderham in 1967. During the intervening period Mass was held in the house, which had become the presbytery. 

On the retirement of Fr. Henry Formosa, in 1973, St. Richard's became the responsibility of the parish priest at Wellington. The following year the presbytery was sold for £ 14,000. Also at this time some land at the front of the property was sold for road widening. One resulting quirk of history was that St. Richard's (until recently) never benefited from a mains water supply. When Fr. Formosa lived next door the expense of piping water to the church was seen as unnecessary, as it could be obtained so easily from the presbytery. After the sale of the house this left the problem of water having to be imported for services and other functions - a disadvantage that was not rectified until 2000.