Under King Henry VIII and after the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century, the Catholic Faith in Canterbury all but disappeared. Little is known of those years but we do still remember those who suffered and died for their faith during that time; Saint John Stone and the Oaten Hill Martyrs.
The re-establishment of the Catholic Mission in Canterbury dates to 1750 and the Hales family who lived in the nearby village of Hackington. In 1855, a house at 60 Burgate Street (now 59 Burgate) was given by Mary Ann Wood for the use of ‘a priest in the city of Canterbury’, and Catholic worship started once again in the city. At first, the priest struggled to find somewhere to say Mass and had to celebrate the Eucharist in his home. He then had to build extensions to the house to be used as Chapels. Around 1870, Father Richard Power arrived in Canterbury. His dynamic enthusiasm enabled both the Church and a new Parish School to be built, thus establishing both St Thomas’ Catholic Mission and the Catholic Church on a firm footing in Canterbury.
The Church of St Thomas of Canterbury was completed in 1875. The architect was John Green Hall, a local man who had designed other Churches in Canterbury. The Church was inaugurated on 13th April 1875 and it was Cardinal Manning who preached the first sermon.
The church was extended in 1963, with the addition of our Church Hall above. Our sacristies were also extended with a Parish Meeting Room above them. Along with the room underneath the Presbytery, known as the Club Room, there are plenty of places for us all to meet as a living community ….