SAINT MARGARET’S PARISH
Carshalton Beeches Mass Centre was established by Father Frederick Rhead in 1934, and served from Holy Rosary, Sutton, where Father Rhead was Parish Priest. A temporary chapel with a corrugated roof was built at the same time and blessed by Bishop William Brown, then auxiliary bishop in Southwark. It remained “temporary” for forty seven years!
In 1947, the Mission was cut off from Sutton and given its first resident priest, Father Charles Ward, who was moved to Saint Elphege’s at Wallington a year later. Soon after the appointment of his successor, Father Albert Tomei, Saint Margaret’s Mission was canonically erected into a parish, with Father Tomei as its first parish priest.He presided over the growth of Saint Margaret’s for twenty five years till he was tragically killed in a road accident in December 1975.
Canon George Telford, at that time Director of the Diocesan Catechetical Centre, (now the Christian Education Centre) had resided here with Father Tomei, helping him in the parish at weekends. He looked after the parish until the appointment of Father Cyril Elkington as second parish priest in 1976. Canon Telford became parish priest of Dockhead in south east London, and later of Ham, where he died in November 1997.
During his eight years at Saint Margaret’s, Father Elkington implemented a renewal of parish life in the light of the Second Vatican Council. Starting an educational programme for adults as well as for children, he helped parishioners to grow, spiritually and pastorally. He established firm ecumenical links with the other local Christian Churches and set up many lay ministries to work both within the church and outside it.
He always promoted the idea that all parishioners of Saint Margaret’s belong to a Parish Family. It was Father Elkington who saw the need of a permanent church building to replace the now somewhat elderly chapel.Because of planning restrictions from the Borough of Sutton, not to mention a financial ceiling imposed by the diocese, the decision was taken not to have two separate buildings, but instead to have the present single dual purpose church and hall.
The building was completed and the church officially dedicated and opened on 5th June 1981, by Archbishop Michael Bowen who, at the same time, consecrated the altar, enshrining within it relics of Saint Oliver Plunket, the Irish bishop and martyr. This altar and the tabernacle plinth are of green Lakeland Slate, and were donated by the late Fred and Norah Phillips who subsequently also donated the matching lectern on the occasion of their Diamond Wedding anniversary in 1989. The enthusiasm and sacrificial giving of parishioners completely cleared the £90,000 debt on the church before the end of 1987.
Father Elkington subsequently moved on to the parish of Lee and was succeeded by Father Kevin Pelham,who was inducted by Bishop Howard Tripp on 29th March 1985. He had previously worked as curate in the parishes of Roehampton, Rainham (Kent), Sevenoaks and West Croydon. Father Kevin retired to Saint Augustine’s Residential Home in Addlestone, Surrey in 2010 after 25 years as Parish Priest at Saint Margaret’s.Father Kevin was followed by Father Stephen Haylett in August 2010, and from September 2013 Father Barry Angus became St Margaret’s Parish Priest, being then succeeded in 2016 by Father Patrick Udotai.
SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND
Patron of Carshalton Beeches
A Scottish queen, born in Hungary, may seem an unusual saint to be patroness of a London suburban parish, but Margaret was in fact very English in her origins. She belonged to the royal house of Wessex and was the great-niece of Saint Edward the Confessor. The Hungarian connection had come through the family’s seeking refuge in that country during the earlier Danish ascendancy in England. There, Margaret’s father, Edward Atheling, had married Agatha, related to the Emperor St Henry II, and his brother had married a daughter of St Stephen. Thus Margaret was the great-niece of a canonized King of Hungary as well as a canonized king of England! It was at Edward the Confessor’s suggestion that the family returned to England about 1055-6, and he became a guardian and protector to her family after her father's death.
After the battle of Hastings in 1066, the Witan chose Margaret’s brother Edgar Atheling as king, but he was never crowned and the family found it necessary again to flee, intending to return to Hungary. Blown northwards off course by a storm, they took refuge at Dunfermline where King Malcolm III – the same Malcolm who had deposed and succeeded the infamous Macbeth – welcomed them at his court. Margaret captivated the Scottish king and they were married in 1070. The wedding began a new era for that kingdom. For 23 years Margaret was Malcolm's counsellor and helper; her influence softened her husband’s temper and manners, and turned him into one of the most virtuous kings ever to have occupied the throne of Scotland.
What she did for her husband, Margaret also achieved in great measure for her adopted country, promoting the civilized arts and encouraging education and religion. She made it her constant effort to obtain worthy priests and teachers for all parts of the country. With her husband she founded several churches notably that of the Holy Trinity at Dunfermline. Yet her own personal life was austere; she ate and slept sparingly and observed two Lents each year!(One at the proper time, the other before Christmas). She was generous and humble in service to the poor. Each morning nine orphans would be brought for her to supervise feeding and clothing; each evening six beggars were welcomed into the royal palace where their feet were washed by Margaret and Malcolm before giving them food and clothing. Some 300 poor received alms every day from the king and queen.
God blessed the couple with a family of six sons and two daughters whom Margaret brought up with the utmost care,instructing them herself in the Christian faith. All eight followed their mother’s virtuous life, with the result that for he next 200 years Scotland was governed by a succession of seven good kings: three of her sons, two great grandsons and the son and grandson of one of these.Through her daughter Matilda, who married King Henry I of England,Margaret became an ancestor in the direct line (27 × great grandmother) of our present Queen Elizabeth II.In 1093 William II invaded Scotland and Malcolm was slain at what became known as the battle of Alnwick. By this time Margaret too was on her deathbed and died only four days after her husband on 16th November 1093. Canonized in 1250 she was named Patroness of Scotland in 1673.
Our parish connection with St Margaret comes through Bishop William Brown who, as mentioned on an earlier page,was auxiliary bishop in Southwark for many years, during the era of Archbishop Amigo. Bishop Brown was himself a Scot and had a great devotion to his country’s patroness. From his crozier came the icon of Saint Margaret, now set into the wall of the church near the reconciliation room. It was presented to us on the occasion of the church’s dedication in 1981 by Archbishop Michael Bowen, who also presided twelve years later at the parish celebrations for the 9th Centenary of Saint Margaret.