Our Lady of the Rosary and St Dominic
The Dominicans of St Dominic’s Priory on the Southampton Road, NW5, have run this large and busy parish since the nineteenth century. In 2016 this church was honoured with the status of Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary for the archdiocese of Westminster. We hope then to welcome many new visitors to our beautiful and spacious church with its 15 altars dedicated to the 15 mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
History: Medieval Blackfriars
The Dominicans established a priory in Holborn, London in 1223, and dedicated the church to Our Lady and St John the Evangelist. In 1276, Edward I gave them permission to move to a site between the River Thames and Ludgate Hill. Until its dissolution in 1538, the Blackfriars – as the Dominicans came to be called – had their great priory on this site, which is still called after them. The medieval Blackfriars of London was used for great occasions of state, including meetings of Parliament and the Privy Council. In 1529, the divorce trial of Queen Catherine of Aragon and King Henry VIII was heard there.
Queen Mary Tudor gave the church of St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield to the Dominicans in 1555 as part of her attempt to restore the Catholic Faith in England, but she died soon after, and so too did Dominican life in London with the suppression of that house in 1559.
The return of the Friars
After Catholic Emancipation, the Archbishop of Westminster dreamt of a Catholic church on every hill in London. In 1861 he invited the Dominicans to build their new priory and church, dedicated to St Dominic, on what was known as Haverstock Hill, on a site between Hampstead and Camden. St Dominic’s Priory was opened in 1867 and the Priory Church by C. A. Buckler was completed in 1883, some 20 years after Cardinal Wiseman laid the foundation stone. The Priory Church is one of the largest Catholic churches in London, with beautiful side-chapels dedicated to the mysteries of the Rosary.
Haverstock Hill Parish today
Dominican friars, sisters and lay people gather twice a day during the week to sing the Divine Office together. Both friars and Dominican sisters serve what is a lively and cosmopolitan parish community, with a weekend attendance of about 900. In addition to the pastoral care of a large parish community, the friars are also engaged in a wide range of apostolates including hospital and school chaplaincies, teaching in schools and universities, publishing and preaching retreats. St Dominic’s, London is also the residence of the Prior Provincial of the English Dominican Province.