Nightingale Square stands some way back from the noise of Balham High Road in South London. With its tall trees and pleasant late-Victorian houses, it is a reminder of an earlier Balham, a time when no local families owned cars, when people wore formal clothes for everyday wear, when no pop music blared in shops, when Queen Victoria ruled and London was the heart of a great empire. The church and school in the corner of the square have a direct link to those days. Built in the 1890s, Holy Ghost Church has been in daily use for over a hundred years. The first priests who served the parish were French, and many of the people who attended Mass were Irish. Today, over 1,000 people pour in and out of the church on a typical Sunday - some of them with family roots that link them to Africa, the West Indies, and many parts of Asia, Europe, and the Americas. This is the story of a community and a church in a quiet corner of a busy London suburb, a story that spans two world wars and the massive social changes that marked the last years of the 20th century - a story that continues today. Joanna Bogle is an author, broadcaster and journalist. She writes for Catholic newspapers in Britain, America and Australia and broadcasts regularly with EWTN, the international Catholic television network. Her books include A BOOK OF FEASTS AND SEASONS with ideas on celebrating the Church's year, and several historical biographies including A HEART FOR EUROPE, a life of the last Emperor of Austria-Hungary, written jointly with her husband, Jamie.
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