St Hugh's Church

St Hugh

St Hugh of Lincoln was born in 1140 in Avalon and upon the death of his mother when he was eight years old his father retired to a monastery in Grenoble taking his youngest son Hugh with him At 20 years of age Hugh joined the Order of Carthusians at the monastery of the Grande Chartreuse and rose to the office of procurator where he first demonstrated his administrative ability

At the request of Henry II, of England, Hugh moved to Witham, Somerset about 1175 and was made Prior of the charterhouse of Witham, Somerset, which Henry had founded in expiation for the murder of the English prelate Thomas à Becket. Hugh built there the first Carthusian monastery in England. In 1186 he was appointed Bishop of Lincoln.

Hugh was deeply devoted to the administration of the Sacraments and visited the poor, sick, Jews and especially those in the Leper house. Birds, squirrels and swans were also amongst his friends and Hugh became friends with a wild swan which would run up to him and eat from his hands He was a firm opponent of such injustices as the unfair taxation proposed by Richard I, of England, and the persecution of the Jews.

He rebuilt the Cathedral of Lincoln due to an earthquake and on his death was buried close to the high altar. King John helped to carry the coffin up "The Steep" to the cathedral and he, with the King of Scotland, several archbishops, 14 bishops and 100 abbots, attended the funeral.

His tomb soon became a place of pilgrimage. St Hugh was the first Carthusian to be canonized in 1220 and his traditional feast day is 17th November. Richard the Lion Heart who knew Hugh very well said about our patron saint that "if all the prelates of the church were like St Hugh there is not a king in Christendom who would dare raise his head in the presence of a bishop'

The Church

In July 1875 Canon Croft, later MonsIgnor Provost, left  a lovely Church and presbytery in Worksop and arrived in Lincoln. The church and presbytery was dilapidated and Canon Croft was determined to replace the old buildings more worthy of the Church of God.  A well-to-do local catholic offered to build a church for £7000 and Canon Croft, a man with a keen eye where money was concerned set out to raise the money himself. He obtained permission from the Bishop to demolish all the old buildings and the two houses. Money was raised through benefactors, holding a bazaar and Sunday collections. Bishop Bagshawe laid the foundation two years later on the 17 November 1892. Thirteen months later on Tuesday 19 December 1893 the church was opened by Cardinal Vaughan and dedicated to St Hugh of Lincoln at a cost of £7300 including the benches and high altar.

The Catholic church of St Hugh of Lincoln was opened by Cardinal Vaughan on Tuesday, 19 December 1893, only one year after the foundation stone was laid,  and dedicated to St Hugh of Lincoln at a cost of £7,300 including the benches and high altar.  It was designed by Albert Vicars in the late Victorian gothic style to seat 500 people, and the work was carried out by H S & W Close of Lincoln.  The total length of the church is 117 feet and the spire rises to a height of 140 feet above the ground.  St Hugh's has an elaborate high altar, Stations of the Cross fashioned from Carrera marble, and beautiful stained glass windows, of which thirteen are the work of George and Alexander Gascoigne.

Although the church is dedicated to St Hugh of Lincoln (see above/below), it has St Catherine of Siena as a secondary patron saint.  St Catherine had a connection with Lincoln because one of her secretaries came from Lincoln and had a devotion to St Hugh.  The bell tower houses three bells, two of them being pre-reformation and having the original inscriptions. The bells ring every day, just before 10am and call people to Mass, just as they did in medieval times.  One bell also rings the Angelus at 12noon.

The church was lovingly restored and redecorated in 2010, providing a beautiful setting for the daily celebration of Mass and uplifting all who come to pray within its walls.  There is a thriving and active congregation, representing many nationalities and backgrounds.  The church is open on weekdays from approximately 9.20am to 11am, and for longer at weekends.  Visits may be arranged outside these time by appointment.