Discovering Our History: A Journey Through Time
In the heart of Isleworth, we are the Roman Catholic community with a history as rich and diverse as the land itself. The story of our parish intertwines with the very fabric of this remarkable place.
Isleworth has been a settlement since Saxon times, but it truly comes to life in the pages of history with the grand Abbey of the Bridgettine Order, an awe-inspiring monument of the Middle Ages. After the tumultuous times of the Reformation, Shrewsbury House hosted one of the earliest Catholic missions in the south of England.
In 1909, the doors to our present church swung open, a magnificent testament to Italian Renaissance architecture. As we welcomed the new millennium, we adorned the interior, celebrating the tradition and faith that bind us together.
Today, our Isleworth Catholic community is a mosaic of backgrounds, with representation from between twenty and thirty countries. England, Ireland, and Scotland form the heart of our congregation, residing in a diverse array of homes – from Victorian terraces to modern neo-Georgian developments.
Our children journey through St. Mary’s school while older students find their path in Gumley House, Gunnersbury, and St. Mark’s. We care for our sick and elderly at West Middlesex Hospital and in several residential homes. Many of us work in London, at Heathrow Airport, or right here in our local community.
While most of us live within the parish’s geographical boundaries, some travel from neighboring areas, drawn by our reputation for being welcoming and inclusive. Our style is informal, and within our parish, we find a home where nearly 500 of us gather regularly at St. Bridget’s.
Our Story of Faith
Our parish, as we know it today, took shape between 1906 and 1929 under the leadership of Father Eric Green, building upon firm foundations and guided by a large and diverse congregation. Yet, the majority of our members were humble, echoing the broader tapestry of Catholic communities in England.
Father Green arrived in 1906, finding a substantial Catholic population served by a small chapel. Backed by a growing congregation, he made education a priority and built a new boys’ school, fueling the Catholic community’s rising confidence.
In 1907, he initiated the annual outdoor procession in honor of the Isleworth Martyrs, demonstrating the parish’s growing influence and commitment to civic life. In 1910, the church in a prominent position was consecrated.
The First World War brought a different kind of challenge, but the parish weathered it together. Isleworth’s 386 men perished, and a war memorial stands in the square outside the church today, paying tribute to their sacrifice.
Father Green’s legacy lives on, seen in the bell tower added in 1927 and a parish hall in 1931. The foundations of faith and community he laid have continued to grow.
Our Dedication: Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Bridget of Sweden
Our dedication to Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Bridget of Sweden is a unique one. While many parishes are devoted to Mary, this dedication to St. Bridget is a nod to the Middle Ages.
In 1415, King Henry V selected Isleworth as the location for a magnificent monastery of the Bridgettines, an enclosed order founded by St. Bridget of Sweden. Syon Abbey, as it was known, was a place of almost continuous worship, providing spiritual renewal and scholarly accomplishments. Though closed during the Reformation, the nuns continued together, preserving their community, now living in Devon. Despite the transformation of the monastery site into Syon House, our parish never forgot its roots, dedicating its chapel and later the church to the Swedish Saint.
St. Bridget was a multifaceted figure – a wife, mother, visionary, reformer, author, and more. Her life provides an example in numerous aspects, making her a model for Christians across generations.
The heritage of our Catholic community in Isleworth is truly remarkable, built upon strong foundations and guided by faith. The present is but a chapter in a story that began centuries ago and will continue to be written in the years to come. We are a testament to resilience, unity, and the enduring spirit of faith.
About Our Lady of Sorrows and St Bridget
We are delighted to be able to show you around our church In a virtual tour. We’ve put together a short audio description for most scenes, simply click on the ‘play’ button in the top left corner to listen.
You’ll begin in the vestibule, to change views simply use the floor plan button st the top left of the of the tour screen.Click on the button to go on your tour!