Parish History

We would love to hear from anyone with relevant information about the history of our church or school here in Peebles.

      History of St Joseph’s Church, Peebles 1850 – 2010:       

              This publication is available from the church repository price £6.50

                           History of St Joseph’s School 1865   –  1974:

                A display of photographs is on show in the Neighbourhood Centre next to          the church. An information board titled “SCHOOL’S OUT” gives details of the closure of St Joseph’s School in 1974. Other boards are being composed to expand the collection in the near future.

St Joseph’s Church’s 150th Birthday:

In December  2008, the parish celebrated the 150th anniversary of the opening of St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Peebles.  The theme of our Jubilee celebration was ‘Come On Home’ and, as such, we were keen to include all those who counted St Joseph’s as their spiritual home, those who prayed and grew up here, those who were Baptised here, made their First Holy Communion or Confirmation here, those who had families buried here and those who had served as Parish Priest of St Joseph’s.

This was not a gimmick to try and boost the size of our congregation but a way to get the message of welcome over to all those who may have given up on God and to let them know that God still loved them.

Our celebrations started on Sunday 7th December 2008 when Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien visited Peebles to celebrate Mass.  Then on Monday 29th December, the actual anniversary of the opening of the church, Mass was followed by a social evening in St Joseph’s Neighbourhood Centre. Click Here to see pictures of the celebrations.

A Brief History of St Joseph’s Church:

On 30th July 1850 a group of about 200 people from all around the area attended Mass above a carpenter’s shop in the High Street, Peebles for the first time since the Reformation.  Prior to this date they had used the private chapel at Traquair House near Innerleithen.  St Joseph’s Church building as we know it today was opened on 29th December 1858 by Bishop Gillies.

Opening of St.Joseph’s Church Peebles:

“The new Catholic Church will be opened on Wednesday 29th December.  Bishop Gillis will officiate and Dr Marshall will preach on this occasion.  Admission by tickets – 1/- each.  Service will commence at 11 o’clock am.  Tickets to be had at Mr Blackie’s office High Street Peebles. 18th Dec. 1858”. ( NB one shilling is equivalent to 32.77 pounds today)

Traquair House was the hub of Roman Catholicism in the Borders after the Reformation and  in due course priests based there were able to help establish parish communities and encourage the building of more churches in the Borders with the help from generous benefactors and the sacrifices of the parishioners at that time.

A Catholic School was established next to the church building in 1865 and served the parish and the whole of Peeblesshire until it moved in 1974 to the Halyrude building near the Cross Kirk. When the school opened in 1865 the parish priest ran the school himself because there were no funds to pay for a teacher at that time.

In 1882 A pipe organ was installed in the church by Fr Clapperton who was parish priest from 1850 until 1882.  In 1912 the organ was removed and transfered to St Columba’s, Edinburgh by Fr McCartney despite protests from the parishioners who were informed that they had “nil to do with the business”

The Santuary was remodelled in 1971 after vatican ll.  The altar, made of Greek Cipollino marble, was moved forward to allow the priest to face the congregation while saying Mass.

A PA system with a Loop Hearing Aid connection  was installed in the Church in 1994 and a major refurbishment of the church was undertaken by Father John Robinson who did much of the physical work himself.  The rails were removed from the altar and the table reduced and lowered to form an ambo.  The Baptismal font was moved from the back of the church and placed on the side of the altar. The replacement pew were sourced from a church in Liverpool and carpeting was laid throughout the church.  The Stations of the Cross, by the Alinari Brothers, were cleaned and restored and also the large crucifix of the San Domiano School was included. The inside was painted and the improvements were received favourably by all who worshipped in St Joseph’s.