Eccleshall is one of the oldest centres of Christianity with close links with the Bishops of Lichfield. In 1870, Archbishop Ullathorne established a Catholic parish in the care of Father Smith of Swynnerton. Two adjacent cottages were bought in Stafford Street: one for the church, dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul, the other for the School. The crosses on the gables still stand, but are now above a fish and chip shop.
Original Church buildings
These were two cottages, one for the Church and one for the School.
In 1893, led by their superior, Father William de Boek, the Belgian Picpus Fathers came to Eccleshall. They opened a school in Claremont House and subsequently acquired Stanley House for the Order’s Junior Novitiate. Attached to this house, in 1903, they built their church with a sanctuary large enough to accommodate the community. It is said that they walked from Eccleshall to Belgium to fund the building. When the Picpus Fathers left in 1911 the parish maintained a resident priest until 1914, when it was served from Ashley (until 1971). In 1922, Dom Constantine Bosschaerts O.S.B. established a branch of ‘Vita et Pax’ Benedictine Sisters in Stanley House. Although they stayed only three years, Father Constantine found time to decorate the sanctuary and paint scenes from the lives of the local Saxon Martyrs on the walls of the baptistery. Remnants of his work can be still seen on the beams of the sanctuary. The convent building was then put to a variety of uses. The church however continued to flourish. American services men stationed in the area during World War II, collected to pay for the licensing of the church for marriages. The Franciscan Missionaries of St. Joseph, based at Broughton hall, leased Stanley House from the Archdiocese between 1960 and 1997.