St. Anthony’s Church
What follows is an extract from the book entitled ‘A brief History of St Anthony’s Catholic Church in
Ottery St. Mary -
It was not until the early part of the 20th. century that the old religion began a revival. Father Van Heede, from Deer Park, celebrated Mass for Belgian refugees in the area during the Great War of 1914-
They converted a Nonconformist chapel (which had formerly been St. Mary’s Church Infant School) attached to the property, into a schoolroom, where they taught their young charges. When Miss Cortiff left Ottery some months later, Miss Cottrell carried on single-
As the numbers of children with special needs grew, St. Anthony's became too small, and, in 1929, Miss Cottrell bought Raleigh House, a much bigger property in Mill Street. She had the old coach house converted into a chapel, in which permission was granted to reserve the Blessed Sacrament.
Raleigh House has a very interesting history. It was built in 1806 in what had been the garden of a much grander house, built by Sir Walter Raleigh around 1590, using stone from St.Mary's College, closed by Henry VIII at the dissolution of the monasteries. Polwhele, in his "History of Devonshire"(1793-
This, then, was the property Miss Cottrell bought in 1929 to house her growing group of children with special needs. When the Augustinian Recollects assumed responsibility for Honiton Parish in 1933, Father Mariano Ortiz, whose duties included Ottery, became friendly with Miss Cottrell. He was determined that there should be a Catholic school in Ottery, and, when Miss Cottrell offered the North Street house to the Order, he invited the Sisters of St. Anne in Wimbledon to establish a convent and school there. A new chapel, paid for by Miss Cottrell, was built next to Raleigh House and dedicated to St. Anthony. It was blessed by the fifth Bishop of Plymouth, the Rt. Rev. John Barrett, who celebrated the first Mass there on 16th. June 1935.
The Sisters of St. Anne, being unable to carry on their school owing to complications with their Rule, left at Christmas 1940. Father Ortiz was anxious that Catholic education should not be lost to the children of Ottery, and asked Bishop Barrett for help. The Marist Sisters, who had been evacuated from their convent in Peckham at the outbreak of war in 1939, were invited to fill the gap. They came to Ottery on 31st. December, 1940, and bought "Dolforgan" in Broad Street. This was their convent and school until 1945, when they occupied Raleigh House, vacated by Miss Cottrell when she moved her home for children with special needs to Colyton, near Seaton, and donated the house, garden and church to the Order of Augustinian Recollects. The "Marist Convent School for Girls and Young Boys" continued in Dolforgan, and Raleigh House became the convent. A room in the old part was converted into a chapel, in what is now the Parish Hall.
During the second world war, the Augustinian Recollects returned to Ivybridge when their house and school in Honiton ("Broomhills") was requisitioned by the War Ministry. Father Ortiz continued to look after St. Anthony's Parish, assisted by Father Florencio Alfaro, travelling from Ivybridge to Ottery and Honiton every weekend to say Sunday Mass. In 1940, he conducted the first baptism in the parish. That same year, he opened a school for young boys at No. 64, Mill Street, which he named St. Augustine's. There were nine boys, aged 9 -
During the war years, as evacuees arrived and departed, the school roll at Dolforgan was constantly changing. By 1944, there were 100 pupils on roll, principally children from local families, not all of them Catholic. The house was no longer big enough to contain both convent and school, and Father Ortiz, wanting to keep the Marist Sisters in Ottery, offered them a five-
In 1946, the same year that the Augustinian Recollects returned to Honiton, when Broomhills was handed back by the War Ministry, Father Patrick Dunne, O.A.R., was appointed Parish Priest of St. Anthony's. He took up residence in Raleigh House, and assumed the duties of chaplain to the Marist Sisters, adapting three small rooms
as his living quarters.
In June, 1953, Father Matthew Holland, O.A.R., succeeded Father Dunne, and, a month later, moved out of what had been Father Dunne's quarters, retaining one room as an office. He returned to live in St. Rita's, as Broomhills had been renamed, travelling to Ottery every day to say Mass.
He undertook extensive alterations to a suite of rooms adjacent to the church, and took up occupancy of his new apartments in October 1954.
(Tony Madden, our longest -
Father Holland stayed on until March 1st., 1962, when he moved to take over Honiton parish, and was succeeded, for only seven months, by Father John Walsh, who then returned to St. Rita’s to take charge of the teaching of Latin and Spanish at the college.
When Henry VIII broke with Rome in 1535, all Catholic practises were banned in England. In Ottery, this meant the closing of St. Mary's College, and the church became the parish church of the Church of England. The area became largely Nonconformist and anti-
The Mass did not return to Ottery until 1927, when two converts, Miss Cottrell and Miss Cortiff, who had bought a property in North Street (which they christened St. Anthony's), obtained permission from the Bishop of Plymouth for the celebration of Mass. Initially, this was for the benefit of children with special needs, who were looked after by the two ladies, who were both trained nurses. When Miss Cortiff left, Miss Cottrell carried on alone, and bought Raleigh House in Mill Street. She had the old coach house converted into a chapel, which became St. Anthony's Church.
In 1933, the Augustinian Recollects assumed responsibility for the parishes of Honiton and Ottery, and Father Mariano Ortiz became parish priest. He invited the Sisters of St. Anne from Wimbledon to establish a convent and school in the North Street house, given to the Order (the Augustinian Recollects) by Miss Cottrell.
When they left in 1940, the Marist Sisters came to Ottery and bought a house in Broad Street, which became their convent and school. In 1945, Miss Cottrell moved her children to Seaton, and gave Raleigh House to the Augustinian Recollects. This became the Marist Convent, and their school remained in Broad Street. From 1933 to the present day, St. Anthony's parish has been looked after by the Augustinian Recollects in Honiton. Sadly, the Marist Sisters left Ottery in 2007.