Letters from Crayford’s Parish Priests

From Father Applegarth to Bishop Thomas Grant (undated)

“My Lord,

Having now commenced building, I am about with your Lordship’s consent, to collect what I can for – in the first place, furnishing the interior of the house – and in the second place – if pofsible to pay off part of the debt. But before I go about, I should very much like to pofseff a line or two from your Lordship, to show to such persons as might ask whether you approved of my so doing.

I wish to ask your Lordship for a dispensation for a man to marry a woman who has been Godmother to a former child of his.

Will your Lordship permit my saying 2 Mafses on a Sunday- I find many people stay at home, either to look after the children and to mind the house, or to cook.

There are now families in the neighbourhood whose members and domestics cannot hear Mafs in consequence of there being only one on Sunday, and it would also be a good thing for persons who wish to go to Communion on Sunday but cannot very well wait until the 11 o’clock Mafs and at the same time do not like to communicate without hearing Mafs. I think it would be for the spiritual profit of many, were Mafs said twice on Sundays. If I said Mafs at 1/2 past 8 persons and servants could then return either to Erith (2 miles) or Dartford (2 miles) and allowing time for the rest of the family to attend the High Mafs.

Your Lordship was very glad to know that many catholics at the Crays have now an opportunity of having Mafs more frequently, through Mr. Bowden’s having Mafs said in his house. I think I ought to say, that the material interests of my chapel will suffer in consequence, not that that is of very much importance, but yet if anything should be said to your Lordship on this point, I wish you clearly to know that such will be the case, by the substraction of from 100 to 200 members of the congregation. We have however, a family from London (Mr. Henry Bishop), who will I sincerely trust, be of great service to this poor mission.

Your Lordship’s very obedient and obliged servant

Augustus Applegarth

From Father Alberry to Bishop Thomas Grant (13th November, 1858)

“My Lord,

In compliance with your desire I lay before you a statement of what I am undertaking at Crayford. First let me observe that during the four months I have been working here, and they are the most productivements I have only received on the average rate of 21s. 0d. per week. Consequently the Mission could not get on with such inadequate receipts. I could not have a poor school without which I think little or no good would be effected. I have considered how I might remedy this state of things and conclude that if I could find a good lodger. I have been so fortunate in meeting Mrs. Bramwell who has offered to furnish my house, put it in complete repair and build a poor school. But to have all this aid it was necessary that I should enlarge my house by making a cellar, doubling the size of the kitchen and building a room over. Besides this there are to be outhouses, coalhouse sheds, etc. I have had an estimate made for various works by the builder one recommended by one of the older and more respected gentlemen of Crayford. He has given plans and an estimate which I have submitted to your Lordship and have been allowed to commence work. I also sent plans and estimates to a London Surveyor, Mr. Hobson who came down and inspected the place and work and wrote to me “I do not think £100 too much for the work if it were done”. For me to raise this £100 is what I beg to call your Lordship’s attention to. Mrs. Bramwell has written that she will give £50, I’ve £80 in the Bank but I do not want to exhaust that sum entirely. I should be much obliged if your Lordship could be advised by your Council to grant me £50. If Mrs. Bramwell remains with me and I cannot doubt that she will from the outlay she is making, that this grant of £50 will only be a loan which I shall be able after a year or so to repay and I promise to do so. I hope I have made myself sufficiently clear for I am not used to much business. I shall be happy to afford more information to your Lordship if you require any as to increased rates from the new buildings. I appreciate there will be more but surely 10s. 0d. a year will raise them.

I am your obedient humble servant,

Joseph Alberry

P.S. The money will not be required until the end of November.


“My Lord,

I am sorry to have to inform your Lordship that the water finds its way into the Crayford Chapel. It has done so more or less from the glazed windows ever since I have been here, but today it has come through the roof from different places, one over the altar. I have had a person examine the windows and spouting and they are both found defective, and he is coming tomorrow to remedy them as far as he can.

I had hoped not to have to trouble your Lordship about the repairs but the roof is more serious and may need greater expenses and I have nothing from my small receipts to enable me to meet the cost.

Another want I have is water. The supply is from both the tanks and both the tanks are exhausted. What can I do, I cannot tell. The only effectual remedy is to make a well. Could your Lordship give me assistance in doing that.

I must not forget that I am already in debt to your Lordship for £50 and Mr. Thorsdale £40, and am therefore worse off than if I had nothing. I hope your Lordship will pardon my troubling you. There are absolute necessities obliging me, too much water over the chapel, damaging the building, too little, or rather none of it, to the supply of the house.

I am your Lordship’s obedient humble servant,

Joseph Alberry

In the Spring of 1866 a Parish Mission was preached by Father Pius, O.F.M. Cap. Regretfully the Service to close the Misson was rumoured to have been a Fenian meeting. Father Alberry felt it necessary to write to the Bishop as follows:

Crayford March 11th 1866

“My Lord,

I have had a report that Fr. Pius has given a Fenian Lecture last Sunday at Crayford Catholic Church, but I was surprised that such a rumour had reached your Lordship. It is destitute entirely of truth. Not a word was said good or bad about Fenianism. Fr. Pius gave a long discourse last Sunday about 1 hour. There was scarcely little controversy. The chief proportion was on the preservation and good of setting good example and laying particularly on enquiries received on account of religion. Not a word directly or indirectly regarding Fenianism. On the whole I can safely say that the topic was not attended to. He did say avoid Secret Societies but have nothing to do with them but whether this was on Sunday or not I cannot remember.

Fr. Pius asks me if there are any Fenians among my flock. I told him not that I knew of and he had better not introduce the subject. We had a long service on Sunday, The Papal Benediction and Renewal of Baptismal Vows were novel and might not have been understood by some present for there was a very large congregation. We had also a collection to make some offering to the good Father but there was no allusion to that in what we said or what I did and no-one spoke evil. I do not know what more need be said, perhaps I have already said too much. I declare there is no foundation whatever for the report of the Fenian meeting regarding Fenianism taking place in the Catholic Church in Crayford, nor as long as I shall be there with my concurrence.

I am yours faithfully,

Joseph Alberry.