In 1926 a local Catholic Mr. Edwarde built a moderate sized house called “Rose D’or” on Lickhill Road, Calne. By the early 1930s, Mr Edwarde assessed that enough people were walking from Calne to Chippenham each Sunday to celebrate Mass to warrant a Mass Centre in Calne. Accordingly, he made the front room of his house available for this purpose, with a priest coming from the Chippenham parish to celebrate Mass.
Mass continued to be celebrate in this house, 4, Lickhill Road, for much of the decade, until it became obvious the house could no longer cope with the increasing numbers.
Mr Edwarde contacted the Vicar and Parochial Council of the Church of England Parish, who kindly made the hall at the back of Saint Mary’s Church available for Sunday Mass. This hall was known as the “Red Cross Hall” continued to be used until the late 1940s, when Mr Edwarde discovered that the Gough’s property at 65 Oxford Road was going to be sold. This was a large old property with spacious grounds including lawns, gardens and a tennis court. It also had a large garage adjacent to the house.
The number of parishioners was growing steadily and with shrewd foresight, Mr Edwarde persuaded Bishop Lee of Clifton, that it would be prudent to take advantage of the purchase of the property. He argued that the large garage could be used as a temporary church and the house could be used as the Presbytery. He also recommended that the extensive grounds could easily support an adequately sized church. Action was taken to raise the necessary funds and the Bishop agreed to the purchase. This property was brought in 1947 and the garage was taken into use as the church with a resident priest appointed in 1948.
Photographs showing the present church hall, (the original garage of the Presbytery), in use as the church in 1947:
From 1953 to 1958 Father O’Callaghan was Parish Priest and it was during his term of office, that the fund raising reached the stage where the building of the new church could be given serious consideration.
With the growth of RAF Lyneham, the number of Catholics settling in Calne was steadily increasing. At the same time, the RAF found themselves unable to supply a full-time Catholic Chaplain to the Station. So Calne was selected as the nearest Church, to supply the needs of the Catholics on that Station. For this reason, the RAF made a contribution to the building fund of Saint Edmund’s Church.
In 1958, Fr Guy Gibbins took over from Fr O’Callaghan as Parish Priest, the foundation stone was laid in 1962 and the Church was built. It was opened for worship in 1964.
Photographs below show the laying of the foundation stone – March 1962:
The photograph below shows the interior of the church in 1964: