Until the mid-nineteenth century the northern parts of Hammersmith away from the River Thames were largely farmland with a few larger houses, such as Ravenscourt Park. That changed with the coming of the railways, trams and Underground.
The Church sought to meet the spiritual needs of the growing population, particularly the many Irish working in construction, by creating a new mission out of the parish of Holy Trinity, Brook Green. Mass was said by the first parish priest, Fr. Arthur Pownall, in the parlour of 33 Askew Crescent on 30 June 1889. An infant and girls school (the predecessor of the Good Shepherd School) opened in Rylett Road in 1891. The parish Mass was said initially in the school hall and later in a temporary iron church erected in the school playing ground.
A more permanent solution was required to serve the 1,000 plus Catholics living in this ‘very poor part of London.’ The land in Ashchurch Grove was given by Fr. Bernard Pownall, the cousin and successor of the first parish priest, and the new church of red brick and Portland stone, costing £4,000, was opened on 5 April 1904. The church was designed by the priest-architect, Canon Scoles, a former parish priest of Brook Green who delighted in dedicating his churches to the Holy Ghost.
Shepherd’s Bush achieved international recognition in those early years, providing the venue for the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition with 8 million visiting its many pavilions, ‘the White City.’ The Stadium, accommodating 100,000, hosted the London Olympics in that year.
The twentieth century saw the ongoing interior decoration of the church, although plans for the construction of a bell tower never materialised. During those years the presbytery was generally occupied by three or four priests, as well as housekeepers and maids. In addition to a busy liturgical schedule, parishioners joined the numerous Catholic organisations which oversaw the Church’s charitable and devotional activities in the locality. Built at a cost of £5,000, the parish hall in Gayford Road was opened at the outbreak of World War II, providing a focus for the social life of the parish over many decades. Although the church was spared a direct hit, this area of London was heavily bombed. In Ashchurch Grove alone, twelve houses were destroyed and 36 people killed.
Normal parish life resumed with the return of peace, although the new parish of Our Lady of Fatima in White City was separated from Shepherd’s Bush in 1955. Reflecting the locality, the parish has continued to change and develop, and we are the spiritual home to families and individuals from near and far, united by our shared faith in Jesus Christ and confidently look forward to continuing to proclaim the Gospel into the twenty-first century.
Parish Priests of Holy Ghost & Stephen:
|1889-90||Fr. Arthur Pownall|
|1890 - 1918||Fr. Bernard Pownall|
|1918 - 20||Fr. Ernest Nolan|
|1920 - 23||Fr. Joseph Tynan|
|1923 - 48||Fr. James Carey|
|1948 - 49||Fr. John Halvey|
|1949 - 56||Fr. Leonard Fletcher|
|1956 - 66||Fr. John Taylor|
|1966 - 74||Fr. Jeremiah Daly|
|1974 - 84||Canon John Formby|
|1984 - 94||Fr. Colin Whatling|
|1994 - 99||Fr. Michael Mannion|
|1999 - 2002||Fr. Allen Morris|
|2002 - 05||Canon John O'Leary|
|2005 - 15||Fr. John Whooley|
|2015 -||Fr. Mark Vickers|
The parish has also been faithfully served over the years by many curates and parish sisters, most recently the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary who were resident in Hadyn Park Road. The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary continue to reside in the parish.
HOLY GHOST & ST. STEPHEN
44 Ashchurch Grove
020 8743 5196