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At the intersection of the Oxford and Radley roads in Abingdon is a group of buildings – church, cloister, presbytery, school and former convent – that have developed over the years for the benefit of Abingdon's Catholic community. They have their origin in an organisation or ‘mission’ which was created in the 1850s largely by the efforts of three men. William Wilkinson Wardell was one of them and was the initial architect.  The other two were Sir George Bowyer, the generous donor, and Father John Paul O’Toole, the first minister to the mission.

Henry Redfern – always known as Harry – was an important Edwardian architect with strong Abingdon associations. He was born in April 1861 at Berwick St John, Wiltshire,  the son of George and Mary Redfern. His father was a surveyor and clerk of works to architect Henry Woodyer during his restoration work at St Helen’s, Abingdon.  Harry was educated at Abingdon School, attending from 1871 to 1876.

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