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After the Reformation, the open expression of Catholic faith was forbidden, but slowly Catholic life returned to London. Hammersmith at that time was a semi-rural area on the outskirts of London. Some protection may have been afforded by the presence of a country home in the area owned by the Portuguese ambassador.


From the early 17th century a discreet Catholic life was established here and slowly the faith was built up anew in this area. Around 1680, Frances Bedingfield, a widow, established a convent of teaching sisters here and other institutions followed it. These included the vast generalate, convent and (for a time) children's home of the Sisters of Nazareth, St Mary's Training College for Teachers, now at Strawberry Hill; and Sacred Heart Convent School, under the direction of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Next to the site of the church, a Catholic almshouse was opened in 1851, St Joseph's House, to provide housing for elderly people.


Drawn in part by these institutions, the Catholic presence in Hammersmith grew steadily, and was greatly strengthened by Irish immigration from the mid-19th century. The need for a church grew pressing. The foundation stone of the church was laid by Cardinal Wiseman in 1851 and building work finished in 1852. Building was made possible through the generosity of Helen Tasker, a wealthy local resident. It was designed by William Wardell, who later emigrated to Australia where he became a renowned architect of cathedrals and civil buildings, and is regarded as one of the founding fathers of Australian architecture. The stained glass in the church is mostly the work of John Hardman, a disciple of Pugin. In 1862 a tower was added, designed by Joseph Hanson, the polymath who also designed the eponymous cab.


In more recent years the parish has been renewed by people of many different nations and from many walks of life. We are now a thoroughly international community. The French primary school for London is only 200 yards away, and so we have many French-speaking families. Many other countries are represented in the parish, including: Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, the United States, the island nations of the Caribbean, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Poland, Austria, Italy, Spain, Iraq, Lebanon, Eritrea and Ethiopia. And this is a selective list! We are all Catholic. And we are all Londoners.

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