Origins of the Parish
The parish owes its beginnings to a remarkable Frenchman. George de Serlonne, who came to Oxford to read Modern History in 1913. He dedicated himself to his mission of visiting the scattered Catholics all over the Cotswolds who had no catholic churches or schools, and instructing the children in their faith. He would cycle to Witney and other villages picking up children on the back of his bicycle to gather them together into a small class for instruction.
At the start of the 20th Century, Catholics in Witney had three choices of where to go for Mass: Buckland, Begbroke or St Aloysius, Oxford (all fairly inaccessible for most people). Mr Daniel Hanley of Oxford left 500 pound in his will for a Witney Mission and Mass was celebrated once a month by one of the priests from Oxford in a room at the railway station which had been made available by the station master. The Jesuits of St Aloysius and Campion Hall had taken responsibility for Witney and some 38 other villages but were only able to make the rounds of known parishioners to enable them to make their Easter duty.
In 1911 Fr Arthur Sammons came to the newly opened church of Ss Gregory and Augustine in North Oxford and began visiting Witney workhouse. It was about this time that Georges de Serionne began his work catechising in the area. In 1914 Georges hired a wonderful small medieval chapel, No. 1 Church Green for Mass to be said. He had founded the church in Witney, which was listed in the diocesan directory for 1916 as St Hugh of Lincoln.
In 1928 a generous donation enabled Fr John Lopes to be appointed as priest in Witney and the parish continued to grow. A couple of school rooms were acquired in Eynsham and Carterton until after the war, when Fr Roddy was appointed Parish Priest. He lived at Number 1 Church Green and renamed the house The Rosary. He built and opened Our Lady of Lourdes school on Curbridge Road in 1959, which was staffed by the Sisters of Charity. Fr Roddy also raised funds for a new church and before he retired in 1969, plans were laid for it at Tower Hill. This was completed in 1975 by his successor, Fr George Tarrant at a cost of 90,000 pounds.
Fr Tarrant was succeeded by Fr Patrick Taylor in 1977 and on September 2000 Fr Pat Armstrong, the current parish priest arrived.