History (Holy Family)
The visitor to the Catholic church of the Holy Family on North Road in Lancing will notice on entering, that there is a Gathering Room to the left, which is dedicated to Saint Paulinus, Archbishop of York (died 644). Above the sacristy door by the organ, is a banner depicting Saint Paulinus looking down the south aisle. Some might wonder why there is mention of Saint Paulinus in a church dedicated to the Holy Family.
It would seem that the first Roman Catholic Mass in Lancing since the Reformation, was celebrated in 1928 by Canon Westlake of St. Mary of the Angels at South House. Five years later, in 1933, Horace Kennedy-Skipton bought Laurel Lodge on North Road; a priest came from St. Peter's Church, Shoreham-by-Sea, for Sunday Mass.
The congregation continued to grow and it became clear that the drawing room at Laurel Lodge could not contain the number of Catholics wanting to attend Sunday Mass. A church was needed. Fundraising activities were begun; dances and whist-drives were held and by 1935 there was enough money to build a church on land acquired in Sompting on the corner of Cokeham Road and Cokeham Lane.
The church of St. Paulinus was built by Robert Steele, who was a builder in Lancing; it was served by priests from St. Peter's in Shoreham and from St. Mary of the Angels in Worthing. Nowhere is there an explanation for the choice of the name Saint Paulinus. As far as one knows he was not associated with Sussex at all. Saint Paulinus was sent to England in 601 AD by Saint Gregory the Great in the second wave of missionaries. He was to help Saint Augustine by converting the north to Christianity and he established York as the metropolitan see. He later became Bishop of Rochester in Kent and died there.
The first permanent priest to be appointed as Parish Priest to St. Paulinus was Fr. Denis William Tuohy (born 10th February 1905, ordained priest 6th January 1933, died 1986). Fr. Tuohy arrived in October 1948 from the Saint John Fisher School, Purley, and lived in a house Milton, on the Sompting Road. The Presbytery, as it now became, is on the north side of the road and has a fine Dutch gabled façade.
Fr. Tuohy was succeeded by Fr. Michael Quinlan in 1954, but before he left Lancing, Fr. Tuohy bought Monk's Farm House, on North Road, Lancing in 1953. The church on Cokeham Road I n Sompting continued to serve Catholics from Lancing as well as Sompting, but by this time Fr. Tuohy had rented a hall in Lancing for the past two years for two Sunday Masses.
The purchase of Monk's Farm House and land on North Road meant that St. Paulinus' church could be sold and plan's could go ahead for the future. Work began on a large extension at the rear of Monk's Farm House, where Mass was celebrated for parishioners in the neighbourhood. It now became unnecessary to continue renting a hall for the Sunday morning Masses. A large debt had been incurred in buying Monk's Farm House and grounds, despite the sale of the former presbytery on Sompting Road. Plans for the building of a church on North Road, Lancing were put in the hands of the architect Leo Hothersall of H. Bingham Towner and Partners. The land to the north of Monk's Farm House was cleared by two parishioners over a period of six months.
With progress being made on the building of a new church on North Road, Lancing, questions were asked about the future of St. Paulinus' church in Sompting. There was the position of those parishioners living to the west of St. Paulinus to be considered. There was also the question of finance, not only to build a new church on the Monk's Farm site, but to maintain two churches for a Mass-going population of about 330.
Arguments for keeping St. Paulinus were put forward by those who lived nearby and by those who had contributed over many years to the fund-raising for the building of St. Paulinus' church and for the purchase of a presbytery on Sompting Road. Many of these founding parishioners were elderly now.
Bishop David Cashman, the first Bishop of Arundel and Brighton Diocese when it was split off from Southwark diocese in 1965, was the recipient of a lot of correspondence from parishioners. Many Catholics in Sompting were unhappy that others were suggesting that the church of St. Paulinus should be sold. However, at a Parish Meeting in March 1969 it was agreed that the whole site in Cokeham Road should be sold and that there would be just one church at Mank's Farm House for all parishioners in Sompting and Lancing. The vote was 180 for, to 64 against. The church of St. Paulinus was demolished by the Steele family and Hamilton Mews went up in its place. After a brief life of 34 years, St. Paulinus' church ceased to exist.
The Holy Family chuch was opened in December 1970 in time for the Christmas Midnight Mass. There is a reminder of the origins of the Parish in the Gathering Room dedicated to St. Paulinus. Thanks to a generous gift to the community at the Holy Family for the express purpose of a Gathering Room, it became possible to build on to the south side of the existing church. Robert Steele, the grandson of the builder of St. Paulinus', was the builder of the Gathering Room. the St. Paulinus Gathering Room was opened on 27th November 2005, 34 years after the demolition of St. Paulinus' church, and 70 years after the church had been built on Cokeham Road.
[Fr. Anthony Lovegrove]