Since 1887 the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception has stood as a spiritual home for the people of Clevedon and beyond. Within its walls generations of Catholics have gathered, prayed and worshipped drawn perhaps by the spirit of St Francis of Assisi.
The Franciscans have served this church since its very beginning. The Friars in Clevedon originally came from Amiens in France, escaping the persecution of religious. Having arrived in Clevedon between 1881 and 1882, they served the Catholics from ‘Portland House’ in Wellington Terrace. The first Mass was said in this friary with a congregation of just five people, being the total Catholic population. Soon a larger house was purchased for the sum of £3800. The ‘Royal Hotel’, as it was originally called, stood on the property now occupied by Friary Close. Masses were held in the bar of this former hotel from February 1883. As the congregation increased, so it was decided to build the present church in the grounds of the Friary.
Over 60 years ago, the statue which stood in the niche looking over the sea fell and was never replaced. However, this year, thanks to local donations and a large sum from an anonymous donor from the United States, a new statue has been securely installed into place on the sea facing wall. Sailors will be able to appreciate once again the statue from the water as well as visitors to our town and the Clevedon Pier.
The blessing and dedication ceremony of the statue was on October 25 at the 10am Mass. The church welcomed the Lay Chaplain to Seafarers at Stella Maris, Peter Morgan and Deacon Nick O’Neill (Port Chaplain for South England and Wales, who is based in Havant, Southampton. The statue not only honours our parish saint but can bring comfort to those who see the statue from afar.
For more history and information about the church, visit their website.