History of St Marie's Church
The story of St. Marie's church is very much the story of its benefactor, Captain John Hubert Washington Hibbert.
In the early nineteenth century, there were no Catholic churches in Rugby or Coventry. Catholics in Rugby had to walk at least nine miles to Mass at St. Anne's Church, in the village of Wappenbury. Alternatively they had a twelve mile walk to Bosworth Hall to attend Mass in the private chapel of the nearest Catholic noble, Lord Clifford. Thomas Smallwood, the lock-keeper on the Oxford Canal at Hillmorton, also provided a meeting place and was sometimes able to arrange for a priest, often from Lord Clifford's estate, to celebrate Mass in the lock cottage. Even so, everyone had to face a long walk.
Lady Julia Mary Magdalen Talbot, a Catholic, married a local landowner, Captain Hibbert. The family often gave lifts to Mass to some of the Rugby group, usually a Mr. and Mrs. O'Flaherty and their nephew David McGawley. Later Captain Hibbert, though not himself a Catholic, arranged for a priest, Father John Nickolds, to be permanently at the little chapel at the Hibbert's home, Bilton Grange, about two miles from the centre of Rugby. All local Catholics were invited to attend Mass there.