Although it is known that Mass was said in Tarporley in the 1850s, our story starts in 1906 in a store room over a grocer’s shop at 53 High Street.
It is still a grocery shop now owned by the Co-op, the room above is still known as “The Chapel”. Mass was said by Father O’Hara.
Mrs Mathews, who as a small child was terrified she might fall through to the ground floor, vividly remembered climbing those two flights of open stairs! Her family (the Gouldings) along with the Larkin family were probably the nucleus of the Catholic population of Tarporley. Grandfather Goulding had built several properties in the High Street, including the grocers shop. The Goulding family home was used for First Communions and Confirmation classes.
A beautiful statue of Our Lady stands beside the altar in the present church as a memorial to the Goulding Family.
In 1938 a semi-detached house known as Four Winds was bought, Fr. Brendan Keogh SDS of the Salvatorian Order (Christleton) and his Dalmatian dog moved in. Thus, a Catholic Church was established with its first resident priest.
Fr Xavier Howard a newly ordained priest was sent to assist Fr Keogh, he stayed with him for two years.
In 1941 the Rev Clement Mercer purchased the Oak Tree Cafe with an adjoining semi-detached house for £1800. The old cafe was converted into a very beautiful if somewhat small chapel, which was formally opened by Bishop Moriarty on the 21st September 1941.
War came and Tarporley became a very busy parish. Many British Servicemen were based in the area. The Colonel was Catholic , he and his men worked hard for the church, organising many social and money making events. then the British soldiers were sent abroad but 2000 American Troops soon replaced them in Tarporley and surrounding area. Therefore larger premises were needed and the Oak Tree cafe was bought. Part of it was made into a church and the other part into a club room, the adjoining house became the Presbytery.
In 1941 many children and their teachers were evacuated from the bombed city of Liverpool. These children received religious instruction on the church each day before going on to the village school.
The Salvatorians – Fr. Clement Mercer, sent two more priests and FR. John Moore joined Fr. Keogh as resident priests. A youth club was formed, table tennis, woodwork and leather-craft were among the activities. The club room also doubled up as a rest room for the American servicemen. More Salvatorian priests were sent to help with the heavy workload, including Fr. Gregory Brightling and Fr. Ambrose Tierney.
Sunday School was well attended and each Thursday there was Benediction and a meeting of Sword of the Spirit.
There was not enough room at the Sunday Mass so the Americans would kneel on the grass outside the church to hear Mass. Before they left Tarporley these American Gi’s bought a new altar for the church.
A scroll with the names of some of the American soldiers was found and Fr. Cogliolo had it reframed and hung in the Church as a memorial to them, one of these men Nildo Firpo from San Francisco served on the altar each day at Mass.
Open air Mass was said in the grounds of Captain Rowlands house in Forest Road.
Later on in the war the old Racecourse in Tarporley became a prisoner of war camp. The Italian prisoners had their own chaplain, but after a while they and the German prisoners used the church.
Fr. Bernard Houghton came in 1945, he was the first secular priest of the Shewsbury Diocese to be a Parish priest in Tarporley.
Fr. John Daley (1957 – 1962) became Parish priest at St. Cuthbert’s as well as St. Thomas Becket although at this time St. Cuthbert’s was officially in the parish of St. Werburgh, Chester.
The church underwent major alterations between 1969 and 1975 when Fr. Marmion was Parish priest. The old club room was dismantled, the altar was moved from the south wall to the west wall and a new organ installed. More recently the sacristy has been altered.
Fr. Bernard Houghton 1945 – 48 Fr. Gerrard 1948 – 57
Fr. John Daley 1957 – 62 Fr. Albert Knight 1962 – 69
Fr. John Marmion 1969 – 75 Fr. Fred Robinson 1975 – 80
Fr. Anthony Cogliolo 1980 – 86 Fr. John O’Sullivan 1986 – 88
Fr. Alban Greenwood 1988 – 91 Fr. Breandan McDonald 1991 -2000
Fr. Joe Carney 2000 – Fr Joe retired, living in presbytery in 2020
No resident Parish Priest. Parish served from Our Lady’s Ellesmere Port 2020 – 2021
Parish served from St John Vianney, Northwich 2021 –