A history of our Parish at St Joseph’s
Between 1870 and 1977 Catholics in Tewkesbury used the church on the hill at the Mythe. The Mythe Chapel was the only place of worship on the Mythe after the Dissolution. The chapel was built in 1870 with funds from the Marquis de Lys who had lived in Tewkesbury since 1863. An old group of stables originally occupied the site and were partly incorporated into the new building to which windows, niches and buttresses (in the Gothic style then fashionable) were added.
A full and interesting history of the parish, compiled in 2005 by Father Richard Barton is available in the church office.
In 1977 the present St Joseph’s Church, formerly a telephone exchange erected in 1938, was opened for Catholic worship and the old church at the Mythe was deconsecrated. The original stained glass windows were removed and relocated to the new church.
Father Larkin was the parish priest at the time of the move, but left the parish before the new presbytery in Chance Street had been completed, and was replaced by Father Stirrat.
Part of the Borough Council’s planning consent for the Chance Street property involved landscaping the site. This was started in the early 1980’s – a decade that also saw the completion of the covered annexe (Narthex) and the installation of coloured glass windows in the sanctuary. In 1990 Bishop Mervyn Alexander visited to bless four further new windows in the nave and to re-hallow the Victorian Pearce-Serocold window in the Narthex, which attracted quite a lot of media attention when it belatedly followed the parishioners down from the Mythe.
The window shows the moment when the Archangel Gabriel announces to Mary that she was to be the mother of Jesus. It had been donated in 1888 by Mrs Amelie Pearce-Serocold, in memory of her husband . The original cost of the window, installation, transportation, workmen’s wages etc in 1888 was £42. Restoration and transfer to Chance Street in 1990 cost the parish £8,500.
In the early 1990’s Dr Michael Saunders, as parish priest, had a religious mural painted on the sanctuary wall, a concept inspired by a similar mural commissioned by the Ursuline sisters for one of their convent chapels. A glazed tympanum, depicting the seven sacraments, was installed in 1996 and a set of fine, carved, wooden stations of the cross, possibly from Oberammergau, were also installed during this period.
In September 2004, Father Richard Barton was appointed parish priest and, following some serious consideration towards building a new church and a review of the existing building, it was decided to remain in Chance Street and the garden and grounds were considerably improved.
In 2013, under the guidance of Canon Richard Dwyer a new stone altar and refurbished sanctuary were dedicated by Bishop Declan Lang.