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Bookshop outside Westminster Cathedral to close after 90 years

The CTS bookshop before the block was demolished in the 1970s (Photo: CTSbookshop.org)

The CTS bookshop is the second Catholic shop to close in the area because of rising rent

A bookshop that has served Catholics outside Westminster Cathedral for more than 90 years will close next month.

The Catholic Truth Society (CTS) bookshop, established in front of the cathedral in 1926, is scheduled to shut on January 31.

Fergal Martin, the general secretary of CTS, said the rent had increased dramatically in the area around Victoria station and was “way beyond what we can afford”.

The closure means that CTS, a publishing charity founded in 1868, no longer has a retail arm. Instead the charity, which has a print catalogue of more than 600 publications, will focus on its online business and is preparing to launch a new website.

Another Catholic shop in the Victoria area, the Padre Pio bookshop run by Kathy Kelly, was also forced to close last year because of rising rents.

The CTS bookshop marked its 90th anniversary two years ago. In its early days, according to the CTS website, it had a “fairly large team of 8-10 people, including a messenger boy, a typist and a bookkeeper”.

During the Second World War the bookshop’s manager, Miss Dunne, was in charge of choosing books to send to prisoners of war camps in Germany. “Several of our current regular customers have fond memories of the shop at this time, and the refuge and comfort it offered,” the CTS account said.

The shop survived the Blitz but in the 1970s it briefly relocated to a site opposite Victoria station because the street it was on, Ashley Place, was being demolished.

In 1977 it returned to a site looking on to the cathedral plaza. Its address is still 25 Ashley Place, though the street no longer exists.

CTS was founded by Fr Herbert Vaughan, who later became Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, 150 years ago.

Its mission is to “communicate the truths of the Catholic faith” and to help Catholics “gain a deeper understanding of their faith and to share it with others”.