Notes on Father John Carden CBE MC

1. Extract from the Daily Mail 1934.



Ex-Army Chaplain

From Our Own Correspondent
CAIRO, Sunday

The discovery this morning that a British resident here had been the victim of a murder - the second of its kind in Cairo within the last four months - is causing the gravest anxiety among the European section of the population.

The victim is a former Roman Catholic chaplain in the British Army, Father John Carden, aged 51, who resigned his commission two years ago. Last June he came to live in Egypt.

Early this morning his unclothed body was found by a servant in a bedroom of the lonely villa he rented at Helmich, a Cairo suburb, with the head almost severed.

An old razor blade was wedged fast in the wound in his throat and his chest bore terrible slashes as evidence of the desparate struggle he must have waged against his assasins.

Police inquiry reveals that robbery was apparently the motive of the crime, as drawers had been emptied and papers ransacked in Father Carden’s house.


A number of arrests have been made among the natives, and the police state that several clues are in their possession.

Picture of John Carden

All the senior British police officers of the city are at present at the scene of the tragedy, including Russell Pasha, the famous British police chief, who is at the head of the city’s criminal investigation department.

The anxiety of the European residents in Cairo will be understood when it is recalled that the police are still without any clue to the murderers of Captain John Hubert Roberts, of Swansea, whose body was found in a Nile canal near the Pyramids last October.



Father Carden had intended to come back to England within the next six months to take up parochial duties in the diocese of Southwark.

“The Bishop of Southwark and I called on him at his home in Helmich a few weeks ago,” an official of the diocese told a Daily Mail reporter.

“He came of German parentage and his real name was Hessenauer, but he changed it to Carden before taking a commission as Chaplain to the Forces.”

Father Carden was educated at Dulwich College and St John’s Seminary, Wonersh, near Guildford, Surrey. He served in the war from 1915-18, being mentioned in despatches and awarded the Military Cross. He was created a C.B.E. in 1919.

From 1919-20 he was senior Roman Catholic chaplain at Aldershot, whence he was transferred to Egypt until 1929. Returning to England, he served at Tidworth and Aldershot.


2. English Martyrs RC Church, Strood - Extract from the Church Handbook 1975-76

Strood, like Chatham, sprang from a little Mission at Old Brompton, where a small Catholic Chapel was built in 1798. Until 1863 this was the only Catholic Chapel in the Medway Towns; then St. Michael's, Chatham, was built.

Meanwhile Strood was not overlooked and the possibilities of doing something for the scattered Catholics of the district were surveyed. Nuns of St Chretienne came over from France and founded a convent in Mill Road, Frindsbury. At first they had their own Chaplain who depended for his livelihood, at least in part, upon the offerings of the faithful made at Masses attended by others than the Community, but these being so small, he could not live, and soon left. His place was taken by the Jesuits at Higham, who had opened a school there at 'The Old Hermitage' (since burned down). They served the nuns until Fr. Bolger, Parish Priest of Chatham from 1905- 1922 took it over in 1909. Fr. Hessenauer (who later changed his name to Carden) was the first of the Chatham curates to take charge of Strood, but the first priest to reside in the parish was Fr. Spencer Borrow who died in 1921. There is little record of his work here.



Grateful thanks to Arthur Carden for introducing me to this unusual member of the family and for providing an important cutting from the Daily Mail.


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©¬†Geoffrey H Henderson