History of the Catholic community in Barnsley : 200 years ago, two men struck up a conversation in a local inn and those casual words led to the foundation of Holy Rood Parish and the Roman Catholic Church in Barnsley which was closely followed by the building of a Catholic School.
William Rigby, a weaver, spoke to a stranger in the Royal Oak Inn and found he was a French priest who had fled to England to escape the revolution and was tutor to the children of John Payne of Newhill Hall, Wath. The year was 1800 and Mr Rigby, the mainstay of a group of about 40 Catholics living in the area, was delighted to meet Fr.Vincent Louis Dennis, who readily agreed to say Mass, hear Confessions and baptise children for this small group. Fr. Dennis died in 1819 near Penistone but left behind a determined band of Catholics who just 3 years later began to dig out the foundations for their own church which was completed in 1824.
They soon needed a larger premises and a bigger church was opened in 1832 with schoolroom accomodation in the cellars beneath it. In 1859 a proper brand-new school was opened in Dodworth Road and the school moved to its current site on Shaw Street in 1977 following the closure of the old school building to aid a new road development. The school occupies a site between Shawlands primary school and Holgate Secondary school.
The current Holy Rood Church on George Street was opened in 1905.