Until the 1840s, the Catholic faithful in East Kent were cared for by a few missionary priests, who visited the coast from tim to time. Foremost among these was Fr Costigan, who died at Margate in 1860 and is buried at what was St Augustine’s Abbey and is now the Shrine Church of St Augustine, Ramsgate.
In 1842, mainly through the efforts of Miss Catherine Boys, a vigorous and redoubtable convert to the Faith, a disused mission hall in Duke Street, Deal, was re-opened as th Chapel of the Immaculate Conception for the occasional celebration of Mass, apparently in the face of bitter opposition. The hall can still be seen in Duke Street, having been converted to a house. The Chapel did noble service for the Catholic community in Deal until 1885.
It was not until 1867 that Deal had a permanently resident priest; this was Fr Richard Power, who was also Chaplain to Deal garrison. He was succeeded in 1869 by Fr James Scratton.
Fr Scratton laboured for 15 years to raise the money to build a new Church on land that he had bought for the purpose on Blenheim Road; alas, he died before he could see his vision fulfilled.
It was on the 29th of December 1885, the Feast of St Thomas of Canterbury, Bishop and Martyr, that the new Church was solemnly opened under the patronage of St Thomas of Canterbury, as the Parish Church of Deal.
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