In the post-Reformation period, and up to the end of the 19th century, the small number of Catholics in the Redditch area made their way to Beoley Hall, the seat of the Catholic branch of the Sheldon family, and it was there that they attended Mass. The family had always retained the services of a priest but this ceased to be case when the Catholic side of the Sheldons died out. The only alternative left was to travel the five miles or so to Coughton Court where the Throckmortons had their chaplain.
With the expansion of Redditch in the early 1800’s, it became necessary to find a new solution for the religious needs of the growing number of Catholics in the town. In 1829 the Catholic Emancipation Act gave new freedoms which included the possibility of building new churches for Catholic worship. So it was, that the Dowager Lady Catherine Smythe, of Wootton Wawen, bought land, and the Rev Bruno Tunstall, a native of Redditch, defrayed the principal part of the cost of erecting a new church.
The first stone for the new church was laid on 11th February 1833 following designs by the celebrated architect Thomas Rickman, the pioneer of the Gothic Revival style in England. Rickman designed a number of Anglican churches, but Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the only Catholic example of his work. It is therefore, of great historical and architectural significance, and is one of the earliest post-Reformation Catholic churches in the country. In 1888, the church was described as "the first Gothic Roman church of any pretensions built in England since the Reformation".
The church was opened with Solemn High Mass on the 24th April, 1834, celebrated by the first parish priest, Rev. Alexius Pope, O.S.B. in the presence of the Right Rev. Dr. Walsh, the Vicar Apostolic (Bishop) of the Midland District. With Fr Pope there began a long association of Redditch with the Benedictine Abbey of St. Gregory at Downside, near Bath. Downside provided an uninterrupted succession of priests to look after the parish from 1834 till 1948. Downside, following a Benedictine tradition, then offered the care of Redditch to another monastery: The Abbey of St Michael and the Angels, Belmont, Hereford. They, in turn, provided the priests for the town over the next twenty years.
In the mid-60s, Redditch was designated a New Town Development area with government proposals to expand significantly the population of the town. This inevitably meant further provision for the increasing number of Catholics and Belmont felt that this was now the time to hand over the care of the parish to the Archdiocese of Birmingham. This took place at the start of 1968, and since then, diocesan priests have looked after the parish.
The simple cruciform form remains unaltered to this day, with a characteristic long Chancel and unusual Nave screen. The interior of the church, however, underwent a series of alterations in the 1970s and early 1980s culminating in a major re-ordering in 1984. The most recent refurbishment, in 2012, restored the layout of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to reflect the architect’s original design, and a number of earlier features were returned to the church.
Detail from the Our lady & St Anne window in the south transept