The Diocese of Nottingham was one of those established in 1850 when Pope Pius IX re-established the Catholic Hierarchy in England and Wales. It covers Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Rutland, most of Derbyshire and most of Nottinghamshire. The Parish of Melbourne and Castle Donington is one of the parishes making up the Loughborough Deanery of the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham. The other parishes are: Loughborough St,. Marys, Loughborough Sacred Heart, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Melton Mowbray, Coalville, Syston, Shepshed, Whittick, Syston and Measham. The parish covers roughly forty square miles and includes Ticknall, Calke, Stanton-by-Bridge, Breedon, Isley Walton, Tonge, Diseworth, Kegworth, Lockington and Hemington. Donington Park and East Midlands Airport are also within the parish.
On May 1st, 1906, Admiral Sir Walter Kerr and his wife Lady Amabel, recently converted to Catholicism, came to live in Melbourne Hall. In anticipation of their arrival in the area, the Right Reverend Bishop of Nottingham had already appointed a parish priest for the new Catholic mission to be established in Melbourne. But there was no Catholic church so a suitable building had to be found which would act as a temporary chapel. In the grounds of Melbourne Hall was a building separated from the house but with a convenient entrance from the road. This was a disused laundry with two rooms on the upper floor. Lady Amabel offered one of these as the chapel. The building is now known as the Tea Rooms.
There the Melbourne Catholic Mission was formally opened with a Mass on May 6th, 1906, the first to be offered in Melbourne since the Reformation. The service was attended by Lady Amabel, her family and domestic staff, with five inhabitants of the town who were the only Catholic population at that time. But the growth of the mission was so rapid that the chapel had to be enlarged by incorporating the second of the upper laundry rooms into the first.
Lady Amabel died a few months later in October of 1906 but her visionary work continued. In accordance with her wishes, the building of a new church in Melbourne began the following year. Bishop Robert Brindle, Fourth Bishop of Nottingham, laid the foundation stone of the present church, which was solemnly opened on May 10th, 1908. The oak altar, which superseded the temporary one in the laundry chapel, was transferred and installed in the new church. The church and priest’s house, together with the land on which they are built, remained in the ownership of the Kerr family until 1982 when the late Lord Peter Lothian, grandson of the founders, handed them over to the diocese. The church was consecrated to mark the centenary of the opening of the church in 2008.
During the First World War, Mass was sometimes celebrated for German soldiers interned at Donington Hall. Some time later, the Moira Arms in Castle Donington, home of Captain and Mrs. Abbott and family, became the venue for Mass once and, later, twice a month. In 1935, a wooden hut was purchased and erected on Mount Pleasant to serve as a church. It was dedicated to St. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, who had been put to death for his Catholic faith by Henry VIII in 1535. In 1959, the parish acquired the former St. Edward’s School on Castle Hill. The building was used as a church and as a social club but it was an old building and in the early 1980s the decision was taken to demolish it and to accept the offer from the Anglican Diocese of Leicester of the use of St. Edward’s pre-Reformation church for Sunday Mass. The present Catholic Church of the Risen Lord was erected on the site of the old school and opened on November 1992.