Chester, Cheshire


Capuchins had walked in the streets of the ancient city of Chester as far back as the seventeenth century. It was not until 21st of December 1858 that they came to settle in the city. It was from Pantasaph that Chester Friary was founded. At first Mass was said in a rented room in Watergate row. In June 1859 a yard in Wintergate Street was roofed in and used as a chapel. In 1862 the friars went to live in Cuppin Street. It was not until the 29th of April 1875 that the present church, dedicated to St Francis was opened.

The work in which the Chester Community is engaged is the care of a parish.

With a church and friary in being, the Franciscan mission in Chester could look forward to a stable existence. The parish covered all the western part of Chester and out into the rural areas on that side of the city. It was here that the first winds of change were felt with the building of Council housing on the Lache estate in the 1930s. The pace accelerated in the post-war period, with the result that in the 1950s and '60s many parishioners were moved out to new estates on the city's western fringe. New parishes were opened to meet their needs – St Theresa, Blacon (1959) and St Clare, Lache (1960), both of which were served by Capuchin Friars from St Francis in their early years, before being handed over to the Diocese of Shrewsbury.

In the 1980s the 1876 friary building was disposed of (it became a hostel for homeless men) and the friars moved into a smaller modern building on the other side of the church. The church, however, attracts many people from outside the parish to its masses, on Sundays and perhaps even more during the week, and serves as a meeting place for several Catholic (and other) organisations which function on a city rather than a parish basis.

Franciscan Friary
15 Cuppin Street

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T: 01244 351331