Sunday, December 12, 2010
There were a few great personages who had some impact on Wolverton and gave their names to streets and so on, but in the 19th century it was really the acts of ordinary people who shaped the community. One of them was Sarah Dunn. She was the wife of John Dunn, a smith, and they were both in their early forties at the time of the 1851 census. They may not have had any children although I cannot track them down in the 1841 census which might have confirmed this view. They have a 12 year-old niece staying with them in their rented house in Gas Street and a male lodger. In 1861 they have the whole house to themselves. John Dunn died during the next decade. I am not sure when exactly, but some interesting developments were taking place in the Roman Catholic community, of which the Dunn’s were committed members.
From the early days of the railway the Roman Catholics at Wolverton Station were incorporated into the Parish of Aylesbury and their nearest mass was at Weston Underwood, nine miles away. Not an impossible walk for people in those days but a daunting one which meant trailing through Haversham, Little Linford and Gayhurst. Attendance at mass was in effect a whole day's commitment. After 1860 the Roman Catholic community successfully petitioned the Bishop of Northampton who agreed to establish a parish at Wolverton. Father Francis Cambours was sent there in 1864 and he succeeded in raising £1000 towards the cost of a church. A year later he was replaced by Father William Blackman who was the parish priest number of years. He first lodged with the widow Dunn at 425 Gas Street and I suspect that for a time it served as the Presbytery.
The new church, built on its present site on the Stratford Road opened in 1867 and was built at a cost of £885. Four years later a Presbytery was built next door to the church and apparently Sarah Dunn contributed over £200, probably her life savings, to this building project. She moved in with Father Blackman to serve as his housekeeper until her death in 1884.