St Simon Stock Catholic Church
© St Simon Stock Catholic Church, 2017


The Catholic Church in Ashford

Before    1987,    all    Catholics    living    in   Ashford    and    Wye    and    the smaller   villages   around   Ashford   belonged   to   St   Teresa’s   parish.   In the1950’s   Mass   was   said   for   the   people   of   South   Ashford   in   a prefabricated   building   in   Woolreeds   Road.      The   housing   estates around   Brookfield   were   built   about   1960   as   part   of   the   London overspill   agreement   between Ashford   and   the   then   London   County Council. About    1960    St    Simon’s    Hall,    Brookfield    Road,    was    built    and opened   as   a   Mass   centre   for   South Ashford   parishioners.      The   site had   previously   been   a   duck   pond,   then   a   refuse   dump   –   which   was to   have   repercussions   later   on.      The   new   hall   was   still   part   of   the wider    parish    with    Fr    (later    Canon)   Ambrose    Woods    as    parish priest.      Many   activities   were   held   at   the   main   church,   St Teresa’s   in Maidstone   Road,   although   as   the   parish   grew   in   numbers   larger events   and   celebrations   were   held   in   St   Simon’s   Hall,   as   the   former St Teresa’s Church was too small to take the increasing congregations. Bob   and   Mary   Hayward,   who   lived   opposite   St   Simon’s   Hall,   were   the   caretakers   and   sacristans;   Mary was the organist. They generally held the South Ashford community together for many years. In   1972,   the   RC   parish   primary   school,   St   Teresa’s   School,   which   was   then   in   Newtown,   divided   into   two, with the new St Simon’s School being opened by Canon Mahoney in May 1972. From   then   on   the   community   of   South Ashford   became   more   of   a   coherent   unit,   as   the   school,   with   its   first headmaster,   Jerome   O’Donovan,   drew   the   families   together.   Masses   were   still   celebrated   in   St   Simon’s Hall, served by the three priests who were based at St Teresa’s Church. In   the   eighties   it   was   decided   to   divide Ashford’s   Catholics   into   two   parishes:   the   people   of   South Ashford and   villages   to   the   south   of   the   town   formed   a   separate   parish   of   St   Simon   of   England   (later   St   Simon Stock).      The   new   parish   came   to   birth   on   21st   January   1987,   with   Fr   Richard   Harvey   as   the   first   parish priest,   living   in   nearby   Grantley   Close.   Fr   Richard   sold   part   of   the   land   behind   the   present   church   to   the Borough   Council,   and   he   oversaw   the   building   of   a   church   and   presbytery   on   the   same   site   as   the   church hall, which started in1990.    As   the   church   site   was   being   prepared,   there   was   an   alarm   about   methane   gas   seeping   out   of   the ground;   the   borough   engineers   required   meters   to   be   placed   everywhere   and,   subsequently,   gas-proof membranes to be laid in the foundations. In   1991   the   new   church   opened   and   Fr   Richard   moved   into   the   presbytery.   In   1995   a   new   parish   priest,   Fr Paul   Fennessy,   was   appointed.      St   Simon’s   Church   was   consecrated   31st   October   1996.      In   2001   Fr   Paul left   Ashford   and   Fr   John   Boyle   was   appointed   as   parish   priest.   Fr   John   stayed   until   July   2010,   when   he left   England   to   work   in   America.   Fr   Neil   Vincent   was   appointed   parish   priest   of   St   Simon   Stock   in September 2010. John and Mary Addisson.