St Joseph and St Hugh

Buckden Towers

A History of The Towers

The site known as Buckden Towers has a rich history spanning over 900 years.
For much of that time, as Buckden Palace, it had been home to the Bishops of Lincoln. It is listed in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as a manor belonging to the Bishop of Lincoln, valued at just over £16, consisting of a church, a mill, a few cottages and a wood a mile square.

The current Church of St Hugh takes its name from the great Hugh of Avalon who was Bishop of Lincoln from 1186 to 1200. St Hugh was a holy Bishop and a valiant statesman who was always prepared to make a stand even if his views brought him into conflict with King Henry II, his successor Richard I, or the primate, Archbishop Hubert. During the Second World War the Towers was home to evacuees from the London Blitz and in particular from Tollington School and it was subsequently used a hostel for agricultural workers.

After the war, The Towers were donated to Bishop Leo Parker of the Catholic Diocese of Northampton for charitable purposes. In 1956, the Diocese in turn passed it on to the Claretian Missionaries originally for use as a junior seminary.

The Claretians took possession in 1957 and embarked on restoration work. The inner courtyard was completed, roofing and flooring of the Great Tower in which a new spiral staircase had also to constructed, was undertaken and a new chapel, simple and modern in style yet harmonising well with its surroundings, was built. It was dedicated to St Hugh of Lincoln by Bishop Parker of Northampton in 1959. A modern parish hall to the north of the Victorian House was built and named St Stephen’s Hall after Fr. Stephen Emaldia, the Provincial Superior of the Claretians from 1950 to 1962. In 1974 the St Claret Centre was opened for conferences and spiritual retreats. For more information about what is on offer please visit The Towers’ website or contact the church office.