St. Peter Street has been the centre of Roman Catholicism in Winchester from the Reformation, when being a Catholic became illegal, to today.
In Elizabeth I’s time, Lady West owned a house in the street, where Mass was said clandestinely and priests were hidden; one of whom was executed in the city along with five lay men between 1583 and 1593.
These are the Winchester Martyrs, and their names are: John Slade, Roger Dicconson, Ralph Milner, Lawrence Humphreys, James Bird, John Thomas.
About 1674, Roger Corham built a house in the street – St. Peter’s House – in which there was a chapel and resident priest serving Catholics locally. By 1740, a growing congregation led to a larger but makeshift chapel being built in the back garden. In 1792, with Catholic chapels now legal, Rev. John Milner constructed a new church on the site. In that year émigré priests fleeing the French Revolution arrived, with eventually up to 1,000 being accommodated in the city. Two communities of nuns came later; one setting up in St. Peter Street in what is now the Royal Hotel. Both convents stayed until the 19th century.
Milner’s chapel (which still stands as “Milner Hall”) was replaced by the present St. Peter’s Church in 1926. Steady growth followed. A chapel was opened at Weeke in 1957 and a small convent next to St. Peter’s in 1960. The primary school, which had first opened in St. Peter Street in 1853 and moved to Gordon Road in 1899, began relocating to Oliver’s Battery in 1970. It is now adjacent to St. Stephen’s Church, which opened in 1969. A new presbytery (“Peterhouse”) was constructed in 1986. In 2006, St. Peter’s merged with St. Gregory the Great, Alresford and St. Thomas More, Stockbridge to create a new parish, renamed St. Peter and the Winchester Martyrs in 2017. Throughout, there has been a steady growth in ecumenism, mission and parish recognition of responsibilities to people who are vulnerable and needy.
Teams called to serve
There are so many different ways to get involved in our Parish…
We love serving others
Our church community has so many teams within it, groups of friends exploring faith or serving together in a variety of ways. This is important because we can’t do faith on our own. The vast majority of these teams are run by volunteers who give their time freely. If you are interested in joining any of them, or trying out any of the activities on offer, or you are looking for support for you or your family – just get in touch!
Whether you’re a history buff or a foodie, whether you’re passionate about helping families or pursuing social justice – there’s something here for you!
If you have a particular skill or gift that you’d like to contribute to the Parish please feel free to come forward, via our contact page.
Here are some of our great teams and activities:
Welcoming & hospitality
We are investing in hospitality so that anyone who arrives at our church knows that they belong.
Worship & liturgy
Music – From singers to organists, from choirs to instrumentalists, the musical worship of our parish is really diverse.
Adorers – Eucharistic adoration is a beautiful Catholic form of prayer in which we spend time with Jesus – our team of adorers have committed their time to do just this.
Altar servers – Our teams of altar servers play a key role in ensuring our masses running smoothly and in helping to create an atmosphere of prayer.
Children’s liturgy of the Word – Our Children’s Liturgy team does a great job, especially in unpacking the readings at mass for the children of our parish.
Church environment – Keeping the church looking beautiful is a big job and has such an impact! This team helps to keep the church clean, the flowers stunning and the brass shining.
Transport – We have volunteers dedicated to bringing members of our parish to mass when they can no longer safely transport themselves to our services. This helps them to remain valued members of our church community.
Youth & young adults – We care passionately that the younger generations of our church grow closer to Jesus and so we have a team that aims to empower them within our community.
The Winchester Catholic History Society – This Society has a diverse programme of Speakers and meets on the evening of the first Monday of the month. There are regular trips to places of historical interest. Further information here….
Journey in faith – A group for those wanting to know more about the Catholic Church, or who are considering becoming Catholics. The programme tries to answer any and all questions about our faith, about the Church, about the Journey.
Pat-a-cake – Parents and pre-schoolers meet in the Pastoral Centre on Wednesday mornings in termtime.
Catholic Women’s League – A worldwide organisation, united in friendship and love. We aim to support various charities and to care for those in need. Winchester Section, based at St. Peter’s, meets on 3rd Thursday of the month in the Pastoral Centre between 4.30pm and 6.30pm, concluding with the Thursday 7.00pm Mass in St. Peter’s. Further information here….
Pie club – All are welcome for a proper home-made lunch, and a talk, 2nd Wednesday of every month except August.
Neighbourhood groups – Parishioners get together in small groups (each group based in a geographical area) in one another’s homes, for a variety of spiritual activities.
Repository/bookshop – The shop sells a wide range of books, cards and religious artefacts, and is open after Masses.
Parish archives – Our archivist, John Thornhill, is the guardian of the Parish history, and can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catenians – The Catenian Association is an international body of Catholic laymen who meet at least once a month in local groups called Circles. Further information here….
Support & outreach
Street pastors – trained volunteers from fifteen local churches – help to care for the people of Winchester, offering reassurance, safety and support to those on our streets at night. Further information here….
Justice & peace group – action based on Catholic social teaching – campaigning on climate change, social justice, refugee and peace issues. Supporting Live Simply, CAFOD, CWP, Fairtrade.
Marriage care – Running courses to prepare couples for marriage. Further information here….
Life – Life is a UK-based pro-life educational and caring charity: it combines campaigning with offering practical support. Further information here….
SVP – The members of the St Vincent de Paul Society offer friendship and practical help to those struggling in the local area and all over the UK through community support projects (including community shops, furniture stores and advice centres) and youth work. Further information here….
Here are some details of what the SVP achieves in our parish.
Covenant with the poor – Pope Francis and Bishop Philip have asked that we all have a special concern for justice, peace and social responsibility. The Covenant with the Poor is a commitment to this by the whole parish.
CAFOD – the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, is an international development charity and the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. It also campaigns for global justice. There is a local support group in the Parish. Further information here….