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St. Peter and St. John Church


History of the Church of Saint Peter and Saint John, Old Dean, Camberley North

Following the Second World War the town of Camberley in Surrey changed from being a small borough largely dependent on the education of Army officers and cadets,
to a medium-sized town. Among the areas identified for council housing development by Frimley and Camberley Urban District Council were the Old Dean and Barossa Commons to the north of the borough. The Old Dean housing estate was built in the 1950s on the "Old Dean Common" for residents of heavily bombed Surrey-area's homeless after World War II. By 1953, a total of 616 houses had been built to meet local needs. It was in October 1955 that proposals were announced to rehouse 6000 tenants from the metropolitan Surrey boroughs and in the next two years 680 new houses were built. More were to be built as Old Dean which was recognised as an ‘overspill’ estate.

During the Second WorldWar, the Old Dean common had been used as an instruction camp of the Free French Forces. Many of the roads on that half of the Old Dean are named after areas of London, with the others named after places on the common.

The existing Catholic War Memorial Church of St Tarcisius, Camberley (whose history is elsewhere on this website), had strong links with the Army and a sizeable congregation of some hundreds. Its priest Canon Quinlan arrived in 1953 and saw the problem of accommodating the relocated families within his existing church.The first official inklings of a new church to serve the needs of the Catholics in the new Old Dean ‘village’ are to be found in a letter of 15 March 1955 from Bishop’s House in Southwark (the new Diocese of Arundel & Brighton was not formed till 1965). The Diocesan Chancellor wrote ‘we should get a site at Old Dean Common and I have asked the Surrey Churches Committee to get one allocated.’ Within three years the Archbishop of Southwark had agreed to the purchase of land.

By 1958 local architect Robert Cole had been engaged and later that year several old barns were inspected, one of which was purchased at a cost of £250 to provide the structural framework of the new church. Within a few months, former Crown land on the south west side of Caesar’s Camp Road was transferred from the UDC to Southwark Diocese. Initially, there was land sufficient to build a church and presbytery but in February 1963 more land was acquired at the back of the site (the present garden) to be used for a church hall. The orientation of the church lies, unusually, from west to east with the afternoon sun coming through the sanctuary window at the west end and with its entrance on Caesar’s Camp Road.

Local builders Spear and King began work in August 1961, building on piled foundations as the site was described by the architect as ‘a pit filled with loose materials and brushwood’. This was then topped with hundreds of cubic yards of earth provided free of charge by builders George Wimpey, still at work on the estate. The church was in use by April 1963 and the house occupied in May. Money for the new church, which is said to have cost £26,000, came from a number of sources. Inevitably there was a loan from Barclays Bank but Canon Quinlan was a magnificent fundraiser and the project benefitted from gifts, legacies and covenanted loans.

The Church was officially opened on the feast of Corpus Christi, Wednesday 19 June 1963 by Bishop David Cashman, the first bishop of the newly created Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. Its Parish Priest was Canon Walter Quinlan, transferred ‘up the hill’ from St Tarcisius to watch over the beginnings of this new parish.

Within months the interior of the church had been fitted out. A young silversmith, George Grant, designed and made altar rails at a cost of £360 together with a nickel and bronze tabernacle, sanctuary lamp and 6 matching candlesticks, costing £245. The needlework department of the Convent of the Good Shepherd, Windlesham supplied altar cloths. There is a bill for the making of 24 oak pews at a cost of £1152 in the workshop of Spear and King. An interesting account from a craftsman involved in their construction follows this history. The alabaster altar and 4 mosaics of Our Lady, the Sacred Heart, and Saints Peter and John came from the chapel at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh in Surrey during a chapel refurbishment programme in the late 50s and early

60s. The bell, costing £297, and fitted in 1964 was cast at the Whitechapel
Bell Foundry. The Stations of the Cross in stained glass were designed and made
in the workshop of Geoffrey Harper, whose bill came to £200. Planting and landscaping of the garden was £241.

Before leaving the parish, Canon Quinlan, in 1965, set up a covenant scheme in the parish to clear the remaining £10,000 debt. Canon Quinlan’s successor, Father Michael Lane, set about building a ‘parish committee room’, not as originally intended at the back of the church but adjoining the presbytery. It was a single storey building to provide facilities for the activities of a parish which by 1971 had a Mass attendance of 398. In the same year, the parish return noted a Mass attendance of 680 at St Tarcisius. The need for this new church was clearly obvious.

Father Victor Cook arrived at SS Peter and John in 1974. Post Vatican 11 these were times of renewal for the Catholic Church and there is much correspondence in the archive about the reordering of the sanctuary in accordance with the liturgical changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council. The architects for this enterprise, costing £2,765.65 and completed in January 1976, were Scott, Brownrigg and Turner. There was much discussion about the retention of the altar rails. Father Cook commented in a
letter to Bishop’s House that he had consulted his parishioners about receiving
Holy Communion standing and ‘so far it has gone off very smoothly’. Even the elderly don’t object as they often have difficulty getting up and down’. In the end, Father Cook had the rails removed ‘as I could not see them fulfilling any useful role’. The gates, with symbolic wheat sheaves and grapes found a place below the altar.

A new window, representing the Trinity, at the sanctuary end of the church was installed by Father Albert van der Most soon after his arrival in 1981.The re-consecration of the Church in May 1982 in the presence of Bishop Cormac Murphy O’Connor was an event of great joy for the parish.

Parish activities had increased significantly in the 1980s, growing out of the ‘Renew’ movement and its highly successful youth spin-off, the parish R-Club. The existing parish room was obviously too small. More seriously, however, there was a problem of subsidence which needed to be dealt with urgently. Father Cyril Cravos arrived in 1987 and recognised that a presbytery built in the 1960s to house perhaps two priests and a housekeeper was no longer practical. Generously, he proposed vacating the ground floor and moving upstairs. In this way two problems could be solved. In addition to the usual fundraising activities, 37 families pledged a total of £31,502 enabling the
project to go ahead, providing a larger meeting space, bar area, kitchen and
wheelchair access. To save a little money, a small team of parishioners undertook the painting of the walls.

This remodelling of the presbytery was indeed farsighted, for times were changing. By the time Father Cravos left in 1999, priest numbers had fallen and there was nobody to fill the vacancy at the neighbouring parish of Christ the King in Bagshot. The two parishes were therefore asked to share a single priest. Father Richard Biggerstaff arrived with the task of encouraging the two communities to work together in harmony.

As part of the continuing improvement to the church at Camberley North a narthex was proposed to create a lighter more welcoming and cheerful entrance space. The existing confessional at the front of the church would be replaced with a small counselling room in the narthex. There was to be an area for display clear of the main axis of entry and a repository. This project was completed in 2002 just a year before the fortieth anniversary of the church. Bishop Kieran Conry celebrated this important anniversary Mass on 18th June 2003, the Vigil of Corpus Christi, followed by one of the socials for which the parish had become renowned.

Father Niven Richardson came to the two parishes in 2005 departing in 2007. He will be remembered for his ecumenical and inter-faith work, including a personal friendship with the local Imam. With the death in January 2007 of Father Michael Reynolds the parish priest of StTarcisius further changes were required. ‘Gapped’ for nearly nine months the St Tarcisius parish was supplied by many priests from the immediate area and beyond.

In October 2007 Bishop Kieran Conry decided to merge the three parishes of St. Tarcisius, SS Peter & John, Old Dean and Christ the King, Bagshot under the single banner of the Camberley & Bagshot Catholic Parish. Mgr. Richard Madders was appointed as Parish Priest of the newly united parish. The story of the St Peter and St John vibrant community with its rich liturgical & musical tradition continues as it approaches its Golden Jubilee celebrations in June 2013.

List of Parish Priests Parish of SS Peter & John:
Canon Walter Quinlan 1963-1967 (died 23 April 1975)
Father Michael Lane 1967-1974 (died 7 November 1994)
Father Victor Cook 1974-981 (died 26 December 2011)
Father Albert van der Most 1981-1987
Father Cyril Cravos 1987-1999 (died 22 March 2009)
(died 22 March 2009)
Father Richard Biggerstaff 1999-2005
Father Niven Richardson 2005-2007

List of Parish Priests Camberley & Bagshot Catholic Parish:
Monsignor Richard Madders 2007-


St. Peter

Saint Peter, also known as Peter, Simon ben Jonah / BarJonah, Simon Peter, Cephas and Kepha – original name Simon or Simeon (Acts 15:14) – was one of the twelve original disciples or apostles of Jesus whose life was prominently featured in the New Testament Gospels. A Galilean fisherman, he was called into service by Jesus with his brother Andrew. Peter was one of the few disciples marked exclusively for a special leadership role by Jesus (Matthew 16:18; John 21:15-16), a post that he indeed held for much of the early Church.

He is considered a saint and the first Pope in the Roman Catholic Church and its Eastern Rites.

The Liturgy of the Hours records June 29, 69 as his date of death; other scholars believe that he died on October 13, 64. He is believed to have been sentenced to death by crucifixion by the Roman Empire. According to tradition, Saint Peter is buried in the grottoes underneath the Basilica of Saint Peter in Vatican City. He is often depicted in art as holding the keys to the gates of heaven, as prescribed in the Gospel of Matthew.

Saint Peter’s original name of Simon or שמעון comes from the Hebrew language meaning hearkening and listening. In standard Hebrew it is pronounced as Šhim'on and in Tiberian Hebrew it is pronounced as Šhim'ôn. According to the Greek Holy Scriptures (Mark, Luke, and John), Jesus renames him Petros or Πετρος which comes from the Greek language meaning pebble or piece of rock (but can just as easily be understood to be Matthew changing the feminine “Petra” to the masculine “Petros”). Most scholars understand that Jesus spoke Aramaic, though, and certainly not Greek. The Aramaic word for rock is “kepha” or “kefa”. Thus, Saint Paul’s letters refer to Peter as Cephas, preserving the Aramaic original and avoiding the problem presented by the Greek feminine noun “petra”. Jesus refers to the church foundation as “Petra” or πετρα meaning rock. The Gospel of Saint Matthew proclaims that Saint Peter professes Jesus to be the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. Jesus answered, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:17-19). In the same Holy Scriptures, Saint Paul refers to Saint Peter as Cephas or Kephas. When the Bible lists the Apostles, Peter is always listed first, and Judas Iscariot is always listed last.

St. John

Some modern scholars distinguish at least three different authors.The author of the Gospel of St John and the First Epistle of John is known OPO St. John the Evangelist or St. John the Theologian (alternately rendered St. John the Divine or St. John the Beloved). The Second and Third Epistle of John had the same author, who calls himself the presbyter; he has been identified with the enigmatic John the Presbyter. An author named John wrote the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:1), though it is not clear whether this is the apostle or another John. Traditionally, Christians believe that the apostle John wrote Revelation (Revelation 1:1, 1:9, and 22:8), the Gospel of John, and the epistles. Scholars like Justin Martyr held this view as early as AD 140. The main objection to this view is that the original Greek in Revelation is not like the other writing in the Gospels or the epistles, mainly because it does not follow the normal rules of Greek grammar. Some scholars believe that a different John wrote Revelation. Other scholars think that some of John’s disciples wrote the Gospel and the epistles and that John himself wrote Revelation. Most Evangelical Christians, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics continue to hold that all New Testament "John" books were written by Saint John, the son of Zebedee.[citation needed]

The apocryphal 2nd century Gnostic text called Secret Book of John was also attributed to John, though not by established traditional Christian orthodoxy.

The Gospel of John contains references to the "disciple whom Jesus loved". Traditionally this is taken as a self-reference by the author, and therefore a reference to John the Apostle.

Though some sources state that he was 95 when he died, others claim he was most likely 104. Traditionally, he is said to be the only apostle to die of natural causes. His tomb is located in Ephesus.

In the Bible:

Saint John the Apostle was the son of Zebedee, and the brother of Saint James the Greater. The Eastern Orthodox tradition gives his mother's name as Salome. They originally were fishermen and fished with their father in the Lake of Genesareth. He was first a disciple of John the Baptist and later one of the twelve apostles of Jesus.

Christian tradition holds that Saint John had a prominent position in the Apostolic body. Saint Peter, St James and St John were the only witnesses of the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37), of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1) and of the Agony in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37). Only he and Peter were sent into the city to make the preparation for the final Passover meal (the Last Supper) (Luke 22:8). At the meal itself, his place was next to Jesus on whose chest he leaned (John 13:23-25). According to the general interpretation, John was also that "other disciple" who with Peter followed Jesus after the arrest into the palace of the high-priest (John 18:15). John alone remained near Jesus at the foot of the cross on Calvary with Jesus’ mother, Mary, and the pious women and took Mary into his care as the last legacy of Jesus (John 19:25-27).

According to the Bible, after the Resurrection, John and Peter were the first of the disciples to run towards the tomb and John was the first of the apostles to believe that Jesus had truly risen (John 20:2-10). The author of the Gospel of John was accustomed to indicate the apostle in writing, identifying him as: "the disciple whom Jesus loved". After Jesus’ Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, John, together with Peter, took a prominent part in the founding and guidance of the church. He is with Peter at the healing of the lame man in the Temple (Acts 3:1, et. seq.). With Peter he is also thrown into prison (Acts 4:3). He is also with Peter visiting the newly converted in Samaria (Acts 8:14).

There is no positive information in the Bible (or elsewhere) concerning the duration of this activity in Judea. Apparently, John in common with the other Apostles remained some 12 years in this first field of labour, until the persecution of Herod Agrippa I led to the scattering of the Apostles through the various provinces of the Roman Empire (cf. Acts 12:1-17). It does not appear improbable that John then went for the first time into Asia Minor . In any case a messianic community was already in existence at Ephesus before Paul's first labours there (cf. "the brethren", Acts 18:27, in addition to Priscilla and Aquila. Such a sojourn by John in Asia in this first period was neither long nor uninterrupted. He returned with the other disciples to Jerusalem for the Apostolic Council (about A.D. 51). Paul, in opposing his enemies in Galatia, recalls that John explicitly along with Peter and James the Just were referred to as "pillars of the church" and refers to the recognition that his Apostolic preaching of a gospel free from Jewish Law received from these three, the most prominent men of the messianic community at Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9).

Of the other New Testament writings, it is only from the three Letters of John and the Book of Revelation that anything further is learned about John. Both the Letters and Revelation presuppose that John belonged to the multitude of personal eyewitnesses of the life and work of Jesus (cf. especially 1 John 1:1-5; 4:14), that he had lived for a long time in Asia Minor, was thoroughly acquainted with the conditions existing in the various messianic communities there, and that he had a position of authority recognized by all messianic communities as leader of this part of the church. Moreover, Revelation says that its author was on the island of Patmos "for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus", when he was honoured with the vision contained in Revelation (Revelation 1:9). John, like his Old Testament counterpart Daniel, was kept alive to receive the prophetic vision.

Almost all modern critical scholars place the writing of the final edition of John at some time in the late first century.[citation needed] It is traditionally believed that John survived his contemporary apostles and lived to an extreme old age, dying at Ephesus in about A.D. 100.



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[Proverbs 19:17]


The Camberley and Bagshot Catholic Parish is a part of

The Catholic Diocese of
Arundel & Brighton

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