Tel: 01494 763518

History of St Aidan's Church

Many villages and towns have developed around many roads and railways. Little Chalfont, which, together with Amersham Old Town and Amersham-on-the-Hill, comprises one town with three centres of population, is no exception. The old coach road from London to Aylesbury passed this way, and many centuries later the Metropolitan railway line followed suit. It was around the penultimate station on this line that the modern Little Chalfont grew, as prior to 1894 there were but a few medieval farms and cottages.

Early in the twentieth century the descendants of a French emigrant family settled in Chesham. They had a link with the Carmelite Church in Kensington, and were thus instrumental in persuading the Carmelites, with the Bishop's approval, to come to Chesham, where they established a House of Study but also looked after the local pastoral needs. This later included the care of the Epileptic Colony at Chalfont St Peter.

Later in the century the Carmelites moved to Chalfont St Peter, a new church was opened in Chesham Bois, and both the latter together with Chesham were handed over to the diocese.

In 1949 Father Leonard Tomlinson was appointed to Chesham Bois. He is described by Father Gerard Collins in the history of the area as a determined man who clearly knew what he wanted - and he wanted no half measures. The mission at Chesham needed a new church, and a third church gradually became necessary in the ever-expanding area between Amersham-on-the-Hill and Little Chalfont. Both these projects were achieved through the energy and enthusiasm of Father Tomlinson .

The church to serve Little Chalfont as well as part of Amersham caused a few problems as far as location was concerned, but Father Tomlinson finally had his way and a corner of what had originally been the Beel House estate was bought, part of the pond was filled in, and a church to seat 250 people together with an adjoining presbytery were built at a cost of about £38,000, and opened by Bishop Parker in 1964. It was designed by the late Mr A H Archard, a local architect, and was, like many buildings of the 1960s, serviceable and practical without being outstanding in beauty.

The comparatively spacious narthex, the equally spacious sanctuary area, and the side chapel, which serves also as a creche at the weekends, all contribute to making St Aidan's a warm and welcoming place for worship. This, together with an attractive simplicity of style exemplifying well the best-known characteristics of its patron, St Aidan, who was noted for his single-minded service to God and his unembellished lifestyle - but more of this later.

Because of the further increase in the number of Catholics in the area, another priest was appointed, Father Leo Hammond. Soon after this a small additional piece of land was purchased, and a parish hall built.

The latter was during the time that Father Gerard Collins was parish priest. He also had the task of bringing about some minor changes within the church to adapt it to the liturgical renewal. Perhaps one of Father Collins' greatest achievements, however, was the meticulous research he accomplished in order to compile a detailed history of the Church in South Buckinghamshire, with lengthy details concerning the Chalfont’s, Chesham Bois, Amersham and Chesham.

A succession of clergy replaced Father Collins in the last decade of the twentieth century, but despite this, both the pastoral activities of the parish and the general maintenance of the property, and especially its attractive setting, were attended to, as it were, with parental care and skill by devoted groups of parishioners.

Near the entrance to the parish hall is a small area of land designated as a burial place for ashes after cremation. A memorial book, placed beneath the statue of Our Lady in the church, indicates the names of those whose ashes are interred there together with their location. Also, in the grounds near the entrance gate is an attractively landscaped garden surrounding the life-size statue of Saint Aidan. This statue was made by Daniel Clemmett in New South Wales and was modelled on the stone statue of the saint on the island of Lindisfarne. The one here in Little Chalfont is made from recycled metal specially treated and shows St Aidan holding a torch which can be lit on special occasions.

Pope Paul VI once said, "Modern man listens more readily to witnesses than to teachers; if they listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses." The parishioners of St Aidan's, together with their priest, in their concern for the building up of the parish community, their prayer, and their outreach to the poor and needy both at home and abroad, continue to endeavour to put this into effect under the patronage and inspiration of St Aidan.

Powered by Church Edit