Brief History of Petersfield Parish
These are extracts from a booklet entitled Catholics in Petersfield, a brief history, written by two parishioners, Tim Concannon and Barbara Gower.
At the opening of the 18th Century, Petersfield town was a small island of Anglicanism in a sea of Papists. That is not to say that there was a majority of Catholics amongst the population but of the great landowners around the town the majority were Catholic or held Catholic sympathies.
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Indeed, the immediate environs of Petersfield boasted a real live Catholic bishop and a Catholic seminary – the French Bishop of Quebec had been captured on the high seas by the Royal Navy and had been brought to England with a view to an early exchange.The actual sites of the Bishop’s confinement and the seminary are obscure but perhaps the settlement of Quebec near Harting may have had something to do with it.
At the same time a Mr Rider of Petersfield complained of a seminary in the town and related how he had had to rescue two young gentlemen of Norfolk who had been stolen from their Protestant relations.
In 1740 the Catholic Bishop Challoner (above, right) visited Petersfield and found that there were 60 Catholics who were served by a priest called Perkins.
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In 1808 a Board of English Catholics was formed which included representatives of the bishops as well as laity. Its chief clerical representative on the Board was one of Petersfield’s most illustrious sons, William Poynter, the Vicar Apostolic of London. He later became Vicar Apostolic.
1808 - 1889>>
1890 - 1897>>