However, plans for the future were not neglected. As Fr Reilly handed the parish over to Canon Stokes in 1901, he wrote to the Bishop:

The Presbytery,

Leighton Buzzard.

April 23rd, 1901.

My dear Lord Bishop,

I have the honour to inform your   Lordship that I am able to leave the sum of £13.00 in hand for Canon Stokes upon his arrival.

I have collected this sum towards the building of a future permanent Church here. Of the   total amount, the late Marques of Bute bequeathed £10.00.

I have the honour to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Fr Charles E. Reilly

The Catholic community appears to have remained constant for many years (records of 1930s show Mass attendance of around 40, with a collection of eight shillings—that’s 40p in today’s money)

The “Tin Chapel” actually went on to serve the Catholic community until the 1950s, and some of today’s parishioners will doubtless have their own fond memories.

1905However, with the influx of displaced people from Central and Eastern Europe and the general expansion of the town, it was clear that the “Tin Chapel” would not cope with current and future needs. In 1952 permission was granted for a new, larger brick-built church with capacity for 200-250 worshippers and this was built and consecrated in 1953.

(Originally printed in the 26th May 1950 issue of the Catholic Herald –

BY A STAFF REPORTER THE freak tornado which on Sunday blew up in the Chiltern Hills and tore through a narrow corridor of land in three Southern counties, by-passed Catholic churches without dislodging a tile.

Fr. Cyril Henslow, parish priest of Leighton Buzzard, in the heart of the worst-hit district, told me : ” Down here we came out without so much as a scratch.

When the storm broke on Sunday afternoon, we were busy with our Confirmation ceremony in the Corn Exchange.  “Bishop Parker had made the journey specially to confirm 57 men, women and children from all parts of my scattered parish. There must have been nearly 200 people in the building.”

The Corn Exchange—Mass-centre for the area—was unscathed.

Indeed said Fr. Henslow, ” there was nothing but the thunderclaps and the torrential rain to tell us in Leighton Buzzard what was happening a few hundred yards down the road in the village of Linslade. It was providential that most of the few Catholics who live there attended the Confirmation ceremony. As things turned out, not one of my parishioners was hurt,(although Anne Westwood lost her pet ferret!!) though the homes of several were damaged.”