A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 17, Offlow Hundred (Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.
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There was a church at Walsall by 1200. It had dependent chapels at Wednesbury and Rushall for all or most of the Middle Ages, (fn. 1) and a third was founded at Bloxwich apparently in the early 15th century. It was not until the 19th century, however, that further new churches were built within the parish.
Walsall church was recorded in 1200 when the Crown gave it to the bishop and his successors. (fn. 2) It is likely to have been lost in 1208, when John seized the lands of the clergy; also the bishop died that year. It does not seem to have been restored when John reached his settlement with the pope in 1213, the see of Coventry being still vacant. (fn. 3) The Crown presented a rector in 1210 or 1211 (fn. 4) and was patron in 1227. (fn. 5) About 1220 William le Rous granted the church to the Premonstratensian abbey of Halesowen (Worcs.) to enable it to meet the demands of hospitality; the grant was confirmed by the bishop and in 1221 by the prior of Coventry, subject to the appointment of a vicar and saving the rights of the existing rector. (fn. 6) In 1223 le Rous acknowledged the Crown's patronage and denied that he had claimed to be patron himself. (fn. 7) The king confirmed the grant in 1233, and in 1235 the pope licensed the abbey to take possession of the church on its next vacancy, subject to the ordination of a vicarage. (fn. 8) In 1245, however, the Crown again presented a rector (fn. 9) and a month later granted the patronage to Halesowen. (fn. 10) The abbot began to arrange for appropriation but early in 1247 asked the bishop to return the documents since the king had not intended appropriation. (fn. 11) In June 1247 the Crown once more presented. (fn. 12) The abbot acceded to the presentation but reserved his future rights of patronage, (fn. 13) which the Crown confirmed in October. (fn. 14)
In 1248, at the king's instance, the bishop decreed the appropriation of Walsall church to Halesowen, subject to the ordination of a vicarage and to the payment of a pension of £4 to Lichfield cathedral, which claimed rights in the church. (fn. 15) The pension was confirmed in 1255. (fn. 16) but in 1278, after a dispute, the abbey was released from payment. (fn. 17) In 1489 Halesowen was paying 40s. a year from Walsall church and Wednesbury chapel to support two choristers at Lichfield cathedral, an arrangement dating apparently from the early 14th century. (fn. 18)
The patronage of the vicarage remained with Halesowen until the Reformation. As Premonstratensians the canons could appoint one of their own number to serve the church and did so regularly. (fn. 19) With the surrender of the abbey in 1538 the advowson passed to the Crown, (fn. 20) which granted it the same year to Sir John Dudley, subsequently earl of Warwick and duke of Northumberland. (fn. 21) On his forfeiture in 1553 the advowson passed back to the Crown, which sold it with the manor of Walsall to Richard Wilbraham and his brother Thomas in 1557. (fn. 22) The patronage then descended with the manor until 1945; in that year Lord Bradford transferred it to the bishop of Lichfield, who remains the patron. (fn. 23) In 1569 and 1575, however, it was exercised by the lessee of the rectory, George Clarkson. (fn. 24) In 1796 Lord Mountrath granted Philip Pratt the elder the right of presentation for eight years in order to secure the living to Philip Pratt the younger, nephew of Mountrath's friend Mr. Preston; by 1803 the right had passed to the younger Philip, who then presented himself. (fn. 25)
At the appropriation of the church to Halesowen in 1248 the bishop had provided for the institution of a vicarage worth 13 marks. The churchyard (area) and the buildings were to be divided between the canons and the vicar, and the vicar was to meet the bishop's and the archdeacon's customary charges. In return for assuming full responsibility for the chapels at Wednesbury and Rushall the vicar was to have all obventions from the chapels except sheaves of corn; if the revenue was not sufficient to enable him to carry out the duties he was to receive further provision from the revenues of Walsall church. The abbot and the vicar were to bear all other charges proportionately. (fn. 26) In 1535 the vicar was receiving £10 19s. 10d. a year net from glebe, tithes, and offerings. Among the charges on his income was the payment of 17s. 4d. to 11 'presbyteris et pauperibus' in Walsall for the soul of John Harper. (fn. 27) In 1553 the vicar leased out the vicarage house. (fn. 28) The vicarage was said to be worth £50 in 1604. In 1646, however, its value was given as £30 and the Committee for Plundered Ministers ordered an augmentation of up to £50 a year out of the sequestered tithes of Wednesfield, Hatherton, Featherstone, and Bentley, all in St. Peter's, Wolverhampton. Apparently an increase of £30 was granted. (fn. 29) In 1773 the vicar stated that the annual value of the living was variously reported as £300, £200, and £130, but he believed that even £130 'is rather more than I have hitherto made of it'. (fn. 30) In 1830 the income was given as some £180 from tithes, £150 from glebe, between £80 and £100 from surplice fees, and £20 from Easter dues and other small payments. (fn. 31) By 1693 many of the vicar's tithes were paid in cash, (fn. 32) and under the commutation of 1843 he was assigned a rent-charge of £300 in place of the vicarial tithes. The glebe then consisted of 17 a. of meadow and pasture, mostly to the south-west of the town; except for the vicarage house it had all been leased out. (fn. 33) The endowments of the vicarage in 1851 were listed as land worth £210, tithes worth £300, and glebe worth £60, and there were fees of £100. (fn. 34) In the late 1850s the vicar wished to let glebe-land on 99-year building leases, and he complained to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners about the expense involved in letting church property, which put him at a great disadvantage compared with other property owners in the same area. (fn. 35) It was not in fact until the late 19th century that the glebe was developed for building. (fn. 36) By 1972 much of it had recently been sold, and the remainder, in the area of Vicarage Place, Caldmore Road, and Glebe Street, was let. (fn. 37)
The ancient site of the vicarage house was south of Vicarage Place. (fn. 38) The house was rebuilt in the early 19th century but was described in 1881 as unsuitable. It was replaced by the Terrace, an early19th-century house in Hanch Place acquired in 1881 from the vicar, William Allen, who had bought it privately in 1876. (fn. 39) By 1972 the former house was occupied as the Mount Catholic Club. The Terrace was sold to the trustees of the Blue Coat school in 1931, and Westmount in Highgate Road was bought that year in its place. (fn. 40) Ardleigh in Jesson Road, the present vicarage house, was bought in 1965 and the Highgate Road house sold in 1966. (fn. 41)
By the early 16th century there was a deacon serving the church, appointed by the mayor and council. (fn. 42) Thereafter curates are regularly mentioned until the mid 17th century and again from the mid 18th century. (fn. 43) In 1548 the chantry commissioners appointed Thomas Dobson, one of the chantry priests, as curate, but in 1549 the surveyor of crown lands in Staffordshire described him as unfit for the post. The surveyor considered all the chantry priests equally unsuitable, describing them and the vicar as ignorant and superstitious, and he recommended that a preacher should be endowed in place of the curate. Dobson, however, was still curate in 1553. (fn. 44) Robert Wilson, who was vicar from 1575 to 1609, occurs as reader in 1561. (fn. 45) The curates who occur in 1604 and 1610 were graduates and preachers, the first being also master of the grammar school; in 1648 the curate was again master of the school. (fn. 46) In 1773 the vicar, who was resident, stated that the curate was supported by subscription, read prayers daily, and preached an afternoon sermon, presumably on Sundays. (fn. 47) In the earlier 19th century the curates were styled lecturers. (fn. 48) By the late 1820s the curate was paid a stipend by the vicar. (fn. 49) There were two curates by 1856, and c. 1886 the number was increased to three. There were still three in the early 1970s. (fn. 50)
There were several chapels and side altars in the church by the late Middle Ages. An altar of St. John the Baptist existed by 1365 and a chapel by 1520. (fn. 51) There was an altar of St. Mary by 1391. (fn. 52) By 1452 a second altar of St. Mary had been established, under the rood, (fn. 53) and by 1462-3 the first altar had its own chapel. (fn. 54) By 1488 there was an altar of St. Nicholas, which later had a chapel, apparently by 1534. (fn. 55) A chapel of St. Clement had been established by 1468 (fn. 56) and a chapel of St. Catherine by 1502. (fn. 57) Six chapels were mentioned in 1534; the sixth may have been a chapel round the altar of St. Mary under the rood. (fn. 58) Each altar, including the high altar, had its own endowment, which was in the care of altar wardens. (fn. 59) From 1502 St. Catherine's chapel was maintained out of the admission fees paid by members of the college of mercers, tailors, drapers, shearmen, weavers, coopers, and barbers (fn. 60) as well as from its earlier endowments. In 1510 Agnes Cooke gave a silver girdle in honour of St. Catherine. (fn. 61)
From the 14th century onwards several chantries were founded. In 1365 John de Beverley and William Coleson gave land in Walsall and Rushall worth 5 marks a year to support a chaplain celebrating mass daily; further endowments, including land in Bentley in St. Peter's, Wolverhampton, were later given by Thomas Beaumont and Henry Vernon. (fn. 62) In 1391 Sir Roger Hillary obtained licence to give land in Walsall, Shelfield, and Rushall to support one chaplain celebrating daily; at the suppression the endowment included a priest's chamber. (fn. 63) By 1535 Hillary was credited with the foundation of two chantries, and his second chantry was also mentioned in 1549. It had apparently been augmented in 1411 by Thomas Thykness and others with land in West Bromwich; at the suppression it held land there and in Walsall, Shelfield, and Aldridge. (fn. 64) In 1390 Sir Thomas Aston of Haywood in Colwich was licensed to endow a chantry, with one chaplain, for the guild of St. John the Baptist. (fn. 65) The endowment, not completed until 1404, consisted of land and rent worth 10 marks a year in Walsall, Rushall, Great Barr in Aldridge, Rugeley, Essington in Bushbury, King's Bromley, Finchpath in West Bromwich, Norton Canes, and Stonnall and Little Aston in Shenstone. (fn. 66) Also in 1404 Aston endowed a second chantry with land and rent worth a further 10 marks yearly for the souls of guildsmen killed at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. In 1535 it held land in Walsall, Rushall, Shenstone, and Essington. (fn. 67) In 1448 Thomas Mollesley and Henry Flaxall gave land worth 18 marks a year, apparently in Shustoke (Warws.), to endow a chantry of two chaplains. The priests were to pray for the king and queen, the marquess of Suffolk and his wife, the duke of Warwick, and the guildsmen of St. John the Baptist. (fn. 68) In the reign of Henry VI a chantry was founded by William Spernor. The endowment in 1535 consisted of land in Walsall, Shelfield, and Rushall. At the suppression there was one chaplain, who had a chamber provided. (fn. 69) In 1478 John Flaxall gave land worth 8 marks to endow a chantry, with a priest who was to say mass for the founder, his father, the king and queen, and all who supported the chantry. In 1493 Eleanor and William Burgess gave Wood End farm to the chantry; in 1535 it also held land in Perry Barr in Handsworth. (fn. 70) By 1527 a further chantry, with one priest, had been founded by the mayor and burgesses or by St. John's guild; by 1535 the endowment included land in Walsall, West Bromwich, Rushall, Tipton, and Codsall. (fn. 71) By the suppression there was also a chantry with one chaplain which had been recently founded by the guild. (fn. 72)
None of the chantries had its own chapel. The priests of those founded by Beverley and Coleson, Aston, Spernor, and the mayor and burgesses celebrated at the altar of St. John the Baptist. (fn. 73) Hillary's chantry of 1391 was founded at St. Mary's altar, and by the suppression both the chantries credited to him were attached to it. (fn. 74) John Flaxall founded his chantry at the altar of St. Mary under the rood. (fn. 75) The chantry of Mollesley and Henry Flaxall was founded at the altar of St. John the Baptist but was attached to St. Mary under the rood by the suppression. (fn. 76) All the chantries were apparently under the supervision either of the guild of St. John the Baptist or of Our Lady's Guild by the early 16th century. The borough ordinances of c. 1510-20 provided that when any of the chantries fell vacant the officials of the relevant guild were to ensure that the patrons quickly appointed priests 'able in conyng of pryksonge' and of good life, 'neither disars ne cardars'. (fn. 77)
Fourteen obits are recorded in the chantry certificates of 1548, most, if not all, founded in the 15th and 16th centuries. Two others founded in 1536 were not mentioned there. Of the fourteen all but one provided for donations to the poor on the obit days. (fn. 78) Another obit was founded in 1558 by George Hawe. (fn. 79)
There was a light at St. Nicholas's altar in 1488, (fn. 80) a light of St. John in 1494-5, (fn. 81) and a light of St. Mary in 1505. (fn. 82) In the early 16th century a light of St. Anne was maintained from part of the admission fees of the college of mercers, tailors, drapers, shearmen, weavers, coopers, and barbers. (fn. 83)
Between 1549 and 1553 most of the endowments of the chantries, obits, and lights were sold to speculators, mainly Londoners. (fn. 84) Some lands, however, remained in 1554 to form part of the endowments of Walsall grammar school. (fn. 85) It seems that chantry lands were also appropriated by the corporation and subsequently sold. (fn. 86) Sales by the Crown of small parcels of concealed lands continued until at least 1589. (fn. 87)
The guild of St. John the Baptist, for men and women, had been founded by 1390. (fn. 88) By the 16th century its endowments included lands in Walsall and Bloxwich, Rushall, Great Barr in Aldridge, Bentley in St. Peter's, Wolverhampton, Bradley, and Wheaton Aston in Lapley. (fn. 89) It seems also to have been receiving the issues of the manor of Bascote in Long Itchington (Warws.). (fn. 90) By 1426 the guild possessed a hall, which was also used as the town hall. (fn. 91) Many members lived outside the parish, including local notables such as the abbots of Halesowen and of Merevale (Warws.). Persons of more than local importance were rarely admitted. In 1482-3, however, new members included the Prince of Wales, Lord Rivers, Sir Richard Grey, Sir Thomas Stanley, Lord Lisle, and the bishop of Worcester. In the early 16th century there were over 300 members, of whom about 130 were Walsall inhabitants. (fn. 92) At the beginning of the 15th century the guild was under a master and two wardens. (fn. 93) By the later 15th century, however, there were normally only two officers, called masters. They were chosen each year after the guild's feast and presented their accounts to the mayor, usually in August. (fn. 94) There were seven chaplains, presumably also chantry priests, attached to the guild by 1520. (fn. 95)
The guild of St. Mary or Our Lady existed by 1471. Its endowment included property in the borough. The ordinances of c. 1510-20 mention its wardens and four chantries attached to it. (fn. 96)
The two guilds seem to have been amalgamated in 1520. In that year St. John's guild was refounded and incorporated. The guild was thenceforth to be attached to both St. John's and St. Mary's chapels. Two masters or wardens were to be elected annually on 1 August in St. John's guildhall. They were licensed to acquire lands in mortmain and to make ordinances. The guild was to maintain seven chaplains, who were to perform divine office daily for the king, the queen, and the guildsmen and for their souls after death. (fn. 97) The guild was suppressed under the Act of 1547. The Crown sold small parcels of guild property in 1549, 1553, 1572, and 1590, but most of it passed to the feoffees of the town lands. (fn. 98)
In the 14th century Walsall was one of several parishes taking part in an annual procession to Lichfield in Whitsun week to make offerings at the cathedral. In 1357 the parishes involved were forbidden to carry banners as they had hitherto, because rivalry between them had led to brawling; instead they were to carry crosses only. (fn. 99) Another Whitsun custom was the brewing of ale to be sold for the upkeep of the church. In 1536-7 it was stated that by ancient usage the churchwardens had a monopoly of public brewing from the Sunday before Whitsun until the feast of Corpus Christi. (fn. 100) By the early 17th century the vicar provided bread and wine at Easter during his incumbency in return for a lump sum payment of 50s. by the parishioners. (fn. 101)
In 1604 the vicar was described as 'no preacher', (fn. 102) but his successor was considered by John Persehouse to be 'a good preacher of God's word'. (fn. 103) Royal endowment of a preacher in Walsall had already been suggested in 1549, (fn. 104) and payments for sermons were made by the mayor in the earlier 17th century. (fn. 105) There were also several gifts and bequests for sermons in the parish church. In or shortly before 1618 William Wheate of Coventry left £20 to endow four annual sermons; the vicar received £8 in 1823 but payment had lapsed by 1855. (fn. 106) By will proved in 1627 John Parker of London, a native of Bloxwich, left 20s. yearly for four more sermons; the vicar received 80p in 1972. (fn. 107) Henry Stone gave £3 a year in 1639 for a lecture or sermon to be preached on the first Tuesday of each month; the vicar received £2.78 in 1972. (fn. 108) Walsall was one of the places that benefited from a double lecture founded by John Machin of Seabridge in Stokeupon-Trent and given from 1653 to 1660. (fn. 109)
There is some evidence of Puritanism in the parish in the earlier 17th century. In 1615 the churchwardens were alleged to have permitted a silenced minister to preach. (fn. 110) Three parishioners were presented in 1625 for receiving communion seated, (fn. 111) and in 1635 two others were said to have worn their hats during service. (fn. 112) Thomas Byrdall, assistant curate by the later 1630s and vicar by 1644, signed the Testimony in 1648, and in 1654 he was appointed assistant to the commissioners for the removal of scandalous ministers. (fn. 113) By 1661 he was preaching weekly, and his sermons were described as 'powerful' and 'practical'. (fn. 114) He denounced his parishioners for the drunkenness, swearing, sabbath-breaking, cursing, lying, oppression, and fornication which abounded in the town—'such wild grapes, such stinking fruit growing on you'. (fn. 115) Had he not died in 1662 he would almost certainly have been ejected under the Act of Uniformity of that year, like the curate of Bloxwich. (fn. 116)
By the later 18th century church attendance had declined. In 1646 there had been 1,000 communicants; (fn. 117) in 1773, however, only 70 regularly received communion, though the number rose to 120 on exceptional occasions. At that time communion services were held on the first Sunday of every month, on the three great festivals, and on Good Friday. The vicar catechized in Lent and four times in the year. (fn. 118)
A revival took place under George Fisk, vicar from 1837 to 1845 and the author of several tracts against popery. (fn. 119) In 1831 it had been alleged that services were thinly attended; sabbath-breaking prevailed in the town, and less than a fifth of the population attended church or chapel on any Sunday. (fn. 120) Fisk's sermons show that he was anxious to remedy the situation, and he took steps to promote church attendance. (fn. 121) Within three months of his arrival his preaching so packed the church that the galleries were in danger of collapse and had to be repaired, (fn. 122) and he was later described as 'a very stormy preacher', who made 'many of the ladies very nervous'. (fn. 123) He instituted evening lectures on Sundays and Thursdays, and in 1838 he established a District Visiting Society. (fn. 124) Religious societies for young men and women were also founded, and monthly instruction was given to them. (fn. 125) In 1838 three Sunday services were held and an evening service on Thursday. The three Sunday services were still held in 1851; about 1,000 people were then said to attend morning service. (fn. 126)
The incumbencies of William Allen (1871-82) and Robert Hodgson (1883-92) were another period of vigorous activity. A mission was opened in Bott Lane in 1871, probably the predecessor of St. Luke's, Selborne Street. (fn. 127) Parochial missions were held in 1873, 1876, 1880, 1886, and 1887. (fn. 128) The clergy were active in a Gospel Temperance (Blue Ribbon Army) Mission in 1882; between 9,000 and 10,000 people took the pledge. (fn. 129) In 1885 open-air services were held in St. Luke's mission district and were well attended. (fn. 130) A warehouse in George Street was converted into a parish room in 1876. In 1886 a church house was built on the corner of Temple and Church Streets; it was replaced in 1961 by a new building in St. Matthew's Close. (fn. 131) A branch of the Church of England Working Men's Society was founded in 1877. (fn. 132) A men's guild was established c. 1886 and guilds for boys and girls c. 1892. (fn. 133) A weekly offertory was established in 1872 and provided the stipends of the curates. It was administered by a finance committee, which also acted as a parochial council. Pewrents were abolished in 1880. (fn. 134) Easter communions numbered 297 in 1883 and 765 in 1887. (fn. 135)
From the early 19th century several new churches and missions were opened from St. Matthew's. The incumbencies of Fisk and Allen in particular were marked by the establishment of new centres and the assignment of parishes to existing ones. The first mission was established at Walsall Wood in the earlier 1820s. (fn. 136) St. Peter's, Stafford Street, was begun in 1839. (fn. 137) There was a mission in the Lime Pit Bank area in 1840. (fn. 138) Bloxwich became a separate parish in 1842. (fn. 139) Pleck mission, later St. John's, was opened in 1854, (fn. 140) and Caldmore mission, later St. Michael's, in 1866. (fn. 141) A mission room was opened in Bott Lane in 1871, enlarged in 1876, and apparently replaced by the mission church of St. Luke, Selborne Street, in 1879. (fn. 142) St. George's, Persehouse Street, was begun in 1873, (fn. 143) and St. Paul's chapel was assigned a parish out of St. Matthew's in 1875. (fn. 144) There was a mission room in Adam's Row, Digbeth, c. 1896. (fn. 145) The conventional district of St. Gabriel's, Fullbrook, established in 1936, included part of St. Matthew's parish. (fn. 146) In 1959 services were begun at the Red House inn, Sutton Road, and the mission church of St. Martin, on the corner of Sutton and Daffodil Roads, was opened in 1960. (fn. 147)
The church of ST. MATTHEW has been so called since at least the late 18th century, but from at least 1391 it had been known as All Saints'. (fn. 148) It consists of a chancel with undercroft, north organ chamber, and vestries, an aisled, clerestoried, and galleried nave with north and south transepts and a north-west staircase block, and a south-west tower with a spire. The undercroft consists of a vaulted transverse passage open to the churchyard, an outer or eastern crypt, and an inner or western crypt. The present appearance of the church is largely the product of 19th-century restoration and rebuilding.
The earliest surviving part is the late-13th-century inner crypt, which has two bays of quadripartite vaulting arranged transversely. Its east wall, in which there are two lancets, represents the limit of the chancel at that time. The crypt itself, however, was probably built when an earlier chancel was being enlarged. It was entered by a stair from the north side of the sanctuary and was probably intended as a vestry.
The medieval church was largely rebuilt in the later 15th century. The 'new work' on those parts for which the parishioners were responsible began in 1462 and continued until 1474. (fn. 149) John Nightingale was apparently master mason from 1462 to 1467; William Wotton then held the post until at least 1471. (fn. 150) Stone was brought from Sutton Coldfield (Warws.), Brewood, and Hamstead in Handsworth. (fn. 151)
As a result of the rebuilding the chancel was lengthened by three bays, with a rib-vaulted passage over a footpath below the east bay and an undercroft below the second and third bays. (fn. 152) The new undercroft, like the old, was probably intended as a vestry as it was entered by steps from the sanctuary. It contained a fireplace in the south wall. The nave was extended eastwards into the former chancel, and in 1463 the rood screen was moved. The 'old chancel' thus became the responsibility of the parishioners; work on it was finished c. 1467. (fn. 153) The extent to which the aisles and chapels of the nave represented a rebuilding or an enlargement of earlier features is not clear. The breadth of the aisles suggests that they were widened, and their length was increased by the incorporation of former chancel chapels. The south aisle was evidently at its present width by 1465 since the tower was built outside it. (fn. 154) Of the two outer chapels the northern one, St. Clement's, was probably built in the 1460s as it is mentioned in 1468. (fn. 155) The south chapel, St. Catherine's, may have been built between 1462 and 1474 or may have been a later addition. The rebuilt nave had a clerestory, and the nave, aisles, and side-chapels had lowpitched roofs. The walls were finished with stone parapets; that over the west end of the nave was embattled. The north aisle was later extended and the adjoining chancel window blocked up.
Payments are recorded for work on the tower from 1465. (fn. 156) It had four stages, the lowest serving as a porch, and was apparently surmounted by a stone spire.
The church underwent little structural change between the 15th and the 19th centuries. A porch was repaired in 1496. (fn. 157) In 1669 John Brown, described as 'of Wincott, Warwickshire', agreed to rebuild the spire. (fn. 158) It was again replaced in 1777, and it was apparently then that the tower was reduced in height by half a stage. (fn. 159) In the 18th century the 15th-century tracery in the east window of the chancel was replaced by casements. (fn. 160) In the late 18th century a Tuscan portico replaced the west porch. (fn. 161)
By the early 19th century the church was much decayed, and owing to the irregular disposition of the pews and galleries it could not accommodate the growing congregation. Accordingly Francis Goodwin of London was appointed to reconstruct it, and the work took place between 1819 and 1821. (fn. 162) The Church Building Society made a grant towards the cost, and a brief was issued in 1820. (fn. 163)
The new work, in a mainly Perpendicular style, follows the external plan of the old church exactly. (fn. 164) The walls of the nave, aisles, and side-chapels were repaired and cased in Bath stone. The old openings were blocked and new windows with cast-iron tracery made. The tracery of the larger windows is identical with that of the east window of Christ Church, West Bromwich, also Goodwin's work. (fn. 165) The chancel arch and the nave arcades were demolished and replaced by new arcades of five bays with cast-iron piers and responds on bases of Gornal stone; the spandrels of the arches are of brick. The clerestory was rebuilt in Bath stone and the nave roof was reconstructed. A flat ceiling ornamented by a timber and plaster fan-vault with turned and plastered pendants was inserted. The side-chapels were converted into transepts by the provision of new gabled roofs at right-angles to that of the nave. The west portico was demolished and the west doorway remodelled in a Gothic style, two new porches were added immediately east of the north and south transepts, and the north-west porch was rebuilt. The tower was cased in Bath stone and the window openings were altered to provide three-stage external elevations. The buttresses, pinnacles, battlements, string-courses, and labels outside the church, except for those of the chancel, were entirely renewed.
The chancel was restored in 1879-80 by Ewan Christian of London. (fn. 166) The stone window tracery was restored to conform with that of the blocked 15th-century north-west window, the inside of which was again exposed. The chancel arch was rebuilt in sandstone, and two windows in a Perpendicular style were inserted in the gable wall above it. An organ chamber and a vestry were added on the north side of the chancel; the sedilia and south doorway also date from that time. Remains of earlier sedilia and of a south doorway had been found during the restoration. A 15th-century piscina was also restored. A staircase block was added to the east wall of the south transept. New choir vestries were dedicated in 1908. (fn. 167) The spire was restored about the same time and the upper part rebuilt in 1951. (fn. 168)
Seats in the church were being let by the later 15th century. (fn. 169) Bequests for new seats were made in the 17th century, (fn. 170) and by 1819 the nave and aisles were lined with irregular rows of box pews. (fn. 171) In 1639 Henry Stone of Walsall gave £3 a year to repair a gallery which he had erected for poor people; in 1972 £2.75 was paid towards the maintenance of the fabric. (fn. 172) Several private galleries were erected in the 18th century; by 1819 there were irregular galleries on the four sides of the nave (fn. 173) and a gallery in the chancel. In the reconstruction of 1819-21 the old pews and galleries in the nave and aisles were removed and replaced by new ones of regular design, and further galleries were erected in the side-chapels; the accommodation was thus greatly increased. At the same time the chancel gallery was removed. (fn. 174) At the restoration of 1879-80 the pews were replaced by chairs and the east gallery and the galleries over the side-chapels were removed. (fn. 175)
During the reconstruction of 1819-21 the pulpit was replaced by a three-decker, itself replaced by a stone pulpit at the restoration of 1879-80. (fn. 176) The octagonal alabaster font dates largely from the early 15th century; the rim and the lead lining of the bowl were added in 1712. Panels on the sides of the bowl enclose demi-angels bearing shields with coats of arms, including those of the Staffords and Beauchamps. (fn. 177) The medieval rood-screen, rebuilt in 1463, was presumably removed at the Reformation. The present screen dates from 1915. (fn. 178) The woodwork in St. Clement's chapel dates from 1920 when the chapel was furnished as a war memorial. (fn. 179) The mutilated effigy of Sir Roger Hillary (d. 1400) is an oolitic-limestone figure of an armed knight reclining on one elbow and formerly lay on a tomb-chest. (fn. 180)
The chancel contains 15th-century stalls. There are nine seats on each side with poppy-heads, moulded arm-rests, and carved misericords; four stalls have disappeared since the end of the 18th century. (fn. 181) There was a choir by 1485, with chantry priests among its members. (fn. 182) 'Organs' were mentioned in 1473. (fn. 183) The organ which in 1605 stood in a loft on the north side of the old chancel was demolished in 1642. (fn. 184) In 1697 a new organ was built by Bernard (Father) Smith and placed in a gallery at the east end of the nave. It was replaced in 1773 by one built by Samuel Green of London. (fn. 185) An organ chamber was built on the north side of the chancel during the restoration of 1879-80. (fn. 186) By will proved in 1625 Robert Parker left £4 to be paid annually by the Merchant Taylors' Company of London to the organist and £1 to the organ-blower. The organ was to be played every Sunday morning and afternoon. (fn. 187) Payment was discontinued when the organ was destroyed in 1642, but it was resumed in 1701; £4 was still paid to the organist in 1972. (fn. 188) In 1717 Thomas Harris of Worcester conveyed houses and land in Walsall and £30 in money to the corporation to provide a further £4 a year for the organist. The grant was in satisfaction of £80 which had been given for the purpose by the Merchant Taylors' Company to Harris's uncle. (fn. 189) From 1813 the corporation increased the payment to £10. (fn. 190) Harris's gift was lost as a result of legal disputes in the 1840s. (fn. 191) From 1738 the vestry, which by then appointed the organist, paid an additional stipend. (fn. 192)
There was a chiming clock in the tower by 1466. (fn. 193) It was repaired by the corporation in the 17th century. (fn. 194) In 1795 it was replaced by a new clock with dial-plates, (fn. 195) itself replaced in 1865. (fn. 196)
In 1553 there were four bells, a sacring bell, and a sanctus bell; a fifth bell had been broken and sold. (fn. 197) By 1656, however, there were again at least five bells. (fn. 198) A new bell was cast in 1674, and the 'great bell' was recast by Joseph Smith of Edgbaston (Warws.) in 1731. (fn. 199) There were eight by 1775, when they were recast by Thomas Rudhall of Gloucester. The sixth bell was recast by Thomas Mears of London in 1809. A treble and second bell were added in 1863. (fn. 200) In 1928-9 all ten bells were recast by Taylor & Co. of Loughborough (Leics.) and the present (i) and (ii) added. (fn. 201)
The church goods in 1553 included a silver chalice and paten, parcel gilt; a gilt copper cross, two lead cruets, a tin pax, and two brass candlesticks. (fn. 202) In 1972 the plate included two silver chalices with patens, dated 1636; a silver chalice and paten given in 1882 with a parcel gilt cup on a silver base; a silver chalice and paten, parcel gilt, given in memory of Beatrice Wallace in 1962; and another parcel gilt chalice and paten. There were also a silver salver given by Jonas Slaney in 1698 and a silver flagon given by Humphrey Persehouse also in 1698; (fn. 203) a second silver flagon surmounted by a cross; and three glass flagons mounted in silver, of which one was given in 1904.
The registers date from 1570 and are complete. (fn. 204)
The mission church of St. Luke, Selborne Street, was designed by H. E. Lavender of Walsall. It is of red brick with stone and blue-brick dressings and consists of nave, narthex, and a chancel added in 1934; there is a bell in a bellcot at the west end. (fn. 208) The mission church of St. Martin on the corner of Sutton and Daffodil Roads was designed by Shipley & Foster of Walsall. (fn. 209) It has a framework of reinforced-concrete crucks with brick infilling.
A chapel of ease to Walsall parish church was founded at Bloxwich apparently by Margaret, widow of Sir Roger Hillary of Bescot, in the early 15th century. In 1413 the inhabitants of Bloxwich were granted a licence to hold services there. (fn. 210) It seems that there was no resident priest until 1515 when a chantry was founded in the chapel by Richard Hurst and John and Richard Stooke. The chaplain was to say mass for the souls of the founders, the king, the queen, and others. (fn. 211) The chapel and its graveyard were confiscated at the suppression of the chantries, and the Crown sold them in 1549 to speculators; (fn. 212) in 1551 they were owned by John Bowes, whose son John sold them to William Gorwey and William Fynney in 1570. (fn. 213) Nevertheless in the later 16th century services presumably continued to be held in the chapel, since it was served by its own curate from at least 1561. (fn. 214) It remained dependent on St. Matthew's until the 19th century but secured burial rights in 1733. (fn. 215) In 1842 a parish was formed out of St. Matthew's. (fn. 216) The living, styled a perpetual curacy from at least 1803, became a vicarage in 1868. (fn. 217)
It is not clear who presented the curates in the 16th century. By will proved in 1616, however, William Parker of London, a native of Bloxwich, left land to the Merchant Taylors' Company, London, to provide an annual stipend of £20 for the minister. The patronage subsequently became determined by his will, although its terms were insufficiently specific. It stipulated that the minister was to have been educated at Merchant Taylors' School, London, and St. John's College, Oxford, and to be licensed by the bishop. If no curate so qualified could be found the inhabitants were to choose a suitable person, but otherwise the will did not state who was to present. (fn. 218) In consequence the inhabitants seem usually to have acted as patrons. In 1710, however, the Merchant Taylors claimed the right to choose any applicant from the school and the college, and by the early 19th century St. John's College had put forward a claim to present which it waived at the vacancy of 1803 for that turn. (fn. 219) Upon the next vacancy in 1825 the inhabitants proceeded to an election, but the vicar of Walsall, at the instigation of one of the candidates, claimed the right to present. (fn. 220) The dispute continued until 1826. By then the Merchant Taylors' Company was also claiming the patronage. (fn. 221) A compromise could not be reached and the bishop presented. (fn. 222) From 1865 the right of presentation has been held by the parishioners, though it was exercised on their behalf in 1936 by the parochial church council, and in 1942 and 1946 by the churchwardens and the secretary of the council. (fn. 223) The company, however, retained a nominal claim to the patronage until at least 1960. (fn. 224)
The pre-Reformation endowments of the chapel were those of the chantry and consisted of land in Bloxwich, Essington in Bushbury, and Tipton, worth 8 marks a year in 1515. (fn. 225) Some of the chantry lands were sold by the Crown to speculators between 1549 and 1553, and land in Tipton formerly belonging to the chantry was given by Mary I as part of the endowment of Walsall grammar school in 1554. (fn. 226) The Crown sold some remaining lands of the chantry in 1590 to an Edward Wingate. (fn. 227) In 1549 the Crown sold pasture in Harden and Bloxwich forming part of the endowment of a light, probably the light before the rood mentioned in 1548. (fn. 228)
There seems to have been no permanent endowment attached to the living between the suppression and William Parker's benefaction of 1616, though in 1604 the curate was receiving a stipend of £3 a year. (fn. 229) From 1616 the principal source of income was the annual stipend of £20 from the Merchant Taylors' Company. It was discontinued in 1643 but was evidently recovered in 1649. (fn. 230) The stipend was augmented by Queen Anne's Bounty in 1810, 1811, 1818, 1819, and 1823. (fn. 231) The gross income of the curacy in 1830 was estimated at £130, which included £90 from the Bounty, £18 from leases of the glebe, £20 from the Merchant Taylors, and £5 from fees. (fn. 232)
There was a priest's house in 1546, but by 1551 it was owned like the chapel by John Bowes. (fn. 233) It is probably identifiable with the curate's house which had been turned into an ale-house by 1613. William Parker left £20 for its restoration for the minister. (fn. 234) About the same time Sir Gilbert Wakering of Yieldfields Hall laid out money for its repair. (fn. 235) In 1830 the incumbent's house was a small brick building, probably on the north side of the churchyard where it stood in 1845. (fn. 236) The present house on the same site dates from the 19th century. The glebe lands attached to the chapel in 1682 consisted of a meadow, a croft, and a house and croft, all of which were let; the area was estimated at 4 a. (fn. 237) Those parcels may have been chantry lands concealed at the suppression, as in 1694 they were said to have been reputedly given for reading mass in the chapel. (fn. 238) In 1841 there were four small pieces of glebe land, 6 a. in extent, which were leased out. (fn. 239) Part of the glebe was sold in 1874, (fn. 240) and none remained in 1972. (fn. 241)
In 1604 the curate was described as 'no preacher'. (fn. 242) By will proved in 1627 John Parker of London, brother of William, left £2 for four sermons a year to be preached in the chapel; in 1973 £1.60 was paid to the vicar in respect of this foundation. (fn. 243) The curate was ejected in 1662. (fn. 244) Communion services were held throughout the 18th century, (fn. 245) and in 1773 it was stated that prayers were read there on saints' and holy days. (fn. 246) In 1830 two services were held on Sundays and communion was celebrated monthly; there were usually 15 to 20 communicants. (fn. 247) There was an assistant curate at Bloxwich at the end of the 18th century; the minister, James Davenport, was evidently an absentee after he obtained the living of Stratford-upon-Avon (Warws.) in 1787. (fn. 248) An additional curate occurs in 1851, and by 1860 grants had been secured to maintain a permanent assistant curate. (fn. 249)
A mission was licensed in a schoolroom at Blakenall Heath in 1843, (fn. 250) and another schoolroom mission elsewhere in the parish in 1875. (fn. 251) The mission chapel of St. John the Evangelist, Sneyd Lane, was built in 1885-6. It was replaced in 1959 by St. Thomas's mission church in Cresswell Crescent, (fn. 252) a dualpurpose brick building with offices attached; there is a house for the curate-in-charge east of the church. Pinfold mission room was opened c. 1887. It was replaced in 1905 by a mission room in Old Lane, a brick building in a lancet Gothic style with a bell under a canopy at the west end. (fn. 253) The vicar began to hold services at the Saddler's Arms on the Lower Farm Estate in 1963 pending the opening of a church, and the mission church of the Holy Ascension, a dual-purpose building in Sanstone Road, was opened in 1968. (fn. 254)
A chapelwarden of Bloxwich occurs in 1553. (fn. 255) From at least 1561 there were two wardens. (fn. 256) They were evidently the wardens of the foreign of Walsall, who were sometimes called chapelwardens (fn. 257) and in 1634 and again in 1767 accounted for expenses at Bloxwich chapel. (fn. 258) Indeed in 1813 it was stated that there was no chapelwarden at Bloxwich, the foreign wardens generally acting. (fn. 259) There have been two independent churchwardens of Bloxwich from at least 1849, and presumably from 1842. (fn. 260) By c. 1730 there was a chapel clerk, appointed in the early 19th century at least by the minister. (fn. 261)
The church of ALL SAINTS was originally dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury but was rededicated in 1875. (fn. 262) It stands on the west side of Bloxwich High Street between Elmore Green Road and Elmore Row. It probably retained much of its medieval structure until the 18th century, but little is known of its early design or development. There was a tower by the mid 16th century; (fn. 263) it was replaced in 1702-3 by one of brick with stone dressings. (fn. 264) The chapel apparently consisted in 1763 simply of a three-bay nave and tower. (fn. 265)
In 1790 the vestry decided to rebuild the chapel and to repair and alter the tower. Work on the new building was far advanced by 1792, but it seems not to have been completed until after 1794. (fn. 266) Built of brick in a classical style apparently to the designs of Samuel Whitehouse, it consisted of sanctuary and nave. The old tower, flanked by two new porches, was retained at the west end; the north porch served as a vestry and the south porch contained a staircase. (fn. 267) The money collected was not sufficient to repair the tower, but an appeal for further funds was launched in 1802. (fn. 268) The chapel was enlarged in 1833 by the addition of an apsidal chancel in a style similar to that of the nave. It had a vestry at the northwest corner and a staircase on the south side. (fn. 269)
In 1874 it was decided to enlarge and reconstruct the old church, 'plain almost to ugliness', as a Gothic building. (fn. 270) The new work, which is of brick with stone dressings, was designed by Davies & Middleton of Dudley and Birmingham and completed in 1877. The apsidal chancel was demolished and replaced by a longer structure with north vestries and south organ chamber. The plan of the old nave was retained, but the north and south walls were restored and new Gothic windows inserted in the old embrasures. Arcades of Codsall stone were intruded to support a clerestory, with exposed internal brickwork, rising above the level of the old roof. The west tower was rebuilt and heightened, and the western porches were partly reconstructed. (fn. 271) A south porch was built in the mid 1880s. (fn. 272)
The fittings of the old chapel were evidently removed during the rebuilding of the 1790s: Stebbing Shaw, at any rate, found 'nothing worthy notice'. (fn. 273) The old pews were replaced by new seating designed by Benjamin Wyatt. A three-decker pulpit was erected at the east end of the nave. There were galleries on the north, south, and west sides. (fn. 274) A fourth gallery across the chancel arch was inserted evidently in 1833; it was taken down in 1875. Also in 1875 the pews were replaced by free seating and a new stone pulpit, font, and reredos were provided. (fn. 275)
In 1546 the chapel possessed 5 oz. of gilt plate. (fn. 276) In 1841 the plate consisted of a silver cup and a small silver salver. (fn. 277) The plate in 1972 included a silver flagon, chalice, and paten presented by J. E. Bealey in 1877 (fn. 278) but dating from the 18th century; (fn. 279) a silver chalice and paten, parcel gilt, given by the communicants in 1898; (fn. 280) a silver credence paten presented in 1899; a stepped silver paten of the same period; a silver ciborium presented by H. Cheadle and his wife, parents of R. Cheadle, vicar 1960-72; a silver wafer box; and a silver alms-basin given c. 1945. (fn. 281)
There were two bells in the tower in 1548. (fn. 282) The bells were apparently recast in 1752, (fn. 283) but by 1830 there was only one bell, cast by Thomas Mears and installed in 1823. (fn. 284) A peal was planned in 1875 for the rebuilt church, and seven new bells cast by Mears & Stainbank of London were dedicated in 1887. (fn. 285) The second bell was presented by the congregation of Bloxwich Wesleyan chapel. The old bell of 1823 was retained as the tenor; the ring of eight bells thus created remained in 1972. (fn. 286)
The registers date from 1733; until 1843 they include only baptisms and burials.
In 1591 a chapelyard of 1 a., presumably the medieval graveyard, was still held by William Fynney and William Gorwey. (fn. 287) John Parker left money to repair the chapelyard in 1627. (fn. 288) From the Reformation, however, the inhabitants buried their dead at Walsall, but in 1733 ¾ a. adjoining the church was consecrated as a graveyard for Bloxwich. (fn. 289) It was enlarged in 1845 (fn. 290) and restored and levelled in 1957. (fn. 291) The lich-gate dates from 1936. (fn. 292) Immediately south of the church is a preaching-cross with a plain octagonal shaft and moulded capital surmounted by a ball.
In 1797 the governors of Walsall grammar school were statutorily empowered to build a chapel at Walsall, dedicated to ST. PAUL, for the use of the school and the public. (fn. 293) About 1820 land was bought north of Bridge Street, (fn. 294) and a chapel there was consecrated in 1826. (fn. 295) The pews were appropriated to the governors, who leased them out. (fn. 296) The minister was the headmaster of the grammar school; his stipend was £50 a year, and he was assigned a house. (fn. 297) In 1830 it was stated that the chapelwarden was always chosen from the school governors. (fn. 298) In 1874 the chapel was sold by the school to the townspeople for £1,000, (fn. 299) and in 1875 it was assigned a parish out of the parishes of St. Matthew and St. Peter. (fn. 300) The patronage of the vicarage passed to the vicar of Walsall, who still holds it. (fn. 301) The benefice was united with that of St. George's in 1964. (fn. 302) As headmaster of the grammar school the minister lived in a house forming part of the school buildings, at first in Park Street and from 1850 in Lichfield Street. (fn. 303) After the reorganization of 1874-5 the vicar lived in St. Paul's Close until 1886 when a vicarage house was built east of the church in Darwall Street. (fn. 304) It was sold in 1957 and a house in Buchanan Road was bought. (fn. 305)
The first church of St. Paul, approached from the newly built St. Paul's Street, was designed by Francis Goodwin. It was a classical building in stuccoed brick, consisting of nave and west tower; (fn. 308) a chancel was added in 1852. (fn. 309) In 1892-3 it was replaced by the present church, a larger building of Codsall sandstone designed by J. L. Pearson in a predominantly Decorated style. It consists of chancel, shallow north and south transepts, north-east vestry, aisled and clerestoried nave, and north and south porches. The chancel ends in an apse and has an apsidal south chapel and a double north aisle surmounted by an organ loft. The lower part of the walls is lined with oak panelling throughout. The vestry, though part of the original design, was added only in 1901. A tower and spire above the south porch were planned but not built. (fn. 310)
The church of ST. PETER, Stafford Street, was begun in 1839 on a site given by Lord Hatherton; it was consecrated in 1841. (fn. 311) Meanwhile in 1840 the vicar of St. Matthew's was licensed to hold services in a new schoolroom in John Street. (fn. 312) The living was endowed with £2,000 capital raised by subscription, notably from Lord Bradford. (fn. 313) In 1845 a parish was assigned out of St. Matthew's. (fn. 314) The living, at first a perpetual curacy and a vicarage from 1868, has remained in the gift of the vicar of St. Matthew's. (fn. 315) The vicarage house in Bloxwich Road was built soon after the completion of the church; Lord Bradford sold the site below its market price. (fn. 316)
The following missions have been opened from St. Peter's: Birchills in 1855; (fn. 317) John Street Mission Room, opened c. 1886, closed in the early 1960s, (fn. 318) and subsequently used as a garage; St. Chad's Mission Room, Green Lane, built in 1896-7 and closed in the late 1940s. (fn. 319)
St. Peter's was designed in a lancet Gothic style by Isaac Highway of Walsall (fn. 320) and stands in a churchyard formerly surrounded by streets on four sides; the orientation is reversed. The church consists of chancel with 'south' vestry and organ chamber and 'north' chapel, nave, and 'west' tower flanked by porches. The nave and tower are of brown brick with stone dressings; the east end, added in 1910, (fn. 321) is of red brick. There were originally galleries on three sides of the nave, but those on the north and south were removed in 1938. (fn. 322) Box pews forming part of the original fittings were removed in 1868. (fn. 323)
CHRIST CHURCH, Blakenall Heath, originated in a mission licensed in 1843 at the newly built National school there. (fn. 324) In 1865 a church was started on a site in Bloxwich Road, Leamore, (fn. 325) but in the same year the foundations were moved to a site on Blakenall Heath given by Lord Bradford. The church was opened in 1870 and consecrated in 1872. (fn. 326) In 1873 a parish was assigned out of Bloxwich. (fn. 327) The Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1874 endowed the living with £200 a year. (fn. 328) The vicarage has remained in the gift of the vicar of Bloxwich. (fn. 329) The original vicarage house north of the church was built in the 1870s; it was rebuilt on the same site in 1968. (fn. 330)
Several missions have been opened from Christ Church. St. Paul's, Little Bloxwich, was built in 1876 and closed in the 1960s. (fn. 331) St. John's, Leamore, was opened in 1883, rebuilt in 1931, and demolished in 1967. (fn. 332) St. Mary's, Coal Pool, was opened in 1892, closed in 1965, and demolished in 1970. (fn. 333) St. Chad's, a dual-purpose building in Edison Road on the Beechdale estate, was dedicated in 1958; from 1970, however, services were held in the near-by Roman Catholic church of St. Catherine and both congregations used St. Chad's for social functions. (fn. 334) St. Aidan's, Hawbush Road, a blue-brick building with a steeply pitched roof, was opened in 1964. (fn. 335)
Christ Church is built of local limestone with Bath stone dressings and was designed in an Early English style by a Mr. Naden (probably Thomas Naden) of Birmingham. (fn. 336) It consists of chancel, north vestry, south organ chamber, north and south transepts, aisled and clerestoried nave, south porch, and west tower. The tower was included in the original design but was completed only in 1882 with funds provided by J. E. Bealey of the Hills, Bloxwich. There are five bells, also presented by Bealey. (fn. 337)
The church of ST. JOHN THE EV ANGELIST, Pleck, originated in a mission begun in 1854 when a curate was established by Charles Bagnall to serve the district and also to act as chaplain to the collieries of John Bagnall & Sons. Lord Bradford gave a site in Pleck Road for a church and school. The school was built in 1855, and services were held there until the completion of St. John's in 1858. The living was endowed with £1,000. (fn. 338) In 1860 a parish was assigned out of St. Matthew's. (fn. 339) In 1861 Queen Anne's Bounty granted £200. (fn. 340) The vicar of St. Matthew's has remained the patron of the living, at first a perpetual curacy and a vicarage from 1868. (fn. 341) A vicarage house adjoining the church was built in 1861 and replaced by a new house on the same site in 1969. (fn. 342)
About 1898 a mission room was opened in Queen Street. It was replaced in 1902 by the iron mission church of St. James in Rollingmill Street, which was closed c. 1930; it was sold in 1933 to the Church Mission to the Deaf and Dumb, which retained it until c. 1945. (fn. 343)
The church of St. John was designed in a Decorated style by Griffin & Weller of Wolverhampton. (fn. 344) It is of limestone rubble with dressings of Codsall sandstone and consists of chancel, north vestry, south organ chamber, north and south transepts, and aisled nave with north porch and south choir vestry. The latter was apparently added in 1908. (fn. 345) The north transept has been used as a Lady chapel since 1959. (fn. 346) There is a south-eastern bell-turret containing a bell.
The church of ST. ANDREW, Birchills Street, originated in a mission established from St. Peter's in 1855 in the newly built Birchills National school in Hollyhedge Lane to counteract the influence of Roman Catholicism in the area. (fn. 347) A chancel was added in 1877. (fn. 348) A mission district was assigned in 1883 and a curate appointed. (fn. 349) St. Andrew's was begun in 1884 on a site given by Lord Bradford, but completion was delayed by lack of funds. It was finally consecrated in 1887. (fn. 350) A parish was assigned out of St. Peter's in 1889. (fn. 351) Under an agreement of 1887 the first nomination to the vicarage was made by the vicar of St. Peter's and subsequent incumbents were presented by the bishop of Lichfield, who is still the patron. (fn. 352) In 1895 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners endowed the living with £150 a year from the Common Fund. (fn. 353) The vicar at first lived in Hollyhedge Lane and later in Cairns Street. (fn. 354) A site for a vicarage house south of the church was acquired in 1915; (fn. 355) the house is a red-brick building in a Queen Anne style.
The church of St. Andrew, of red brick with stone dressings, was designed by J. E. K. Cutts of London in a lancet Gothic style. (fn. 356) It consists of chancel with north chapel, south organ chamber, and east vestries, aisled and clerestoried nave, and west baptistery flanked by porches. There is a timber bell turret, containing one bell, over the junction of chancel and nave. Most of the internal brickwork of the church is exposed, and the arcades have stone piers.
The church of ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS originated in a mission which the vicar of Walsall established in the Caldmore district in 1866. Services were held at first in a cottage near Caldmore Green and from 1867 in the Caldmore church schools. The present church in Bath Road was built by a committee in 1870-1 as part of a scheme for subdividing St. Matthew's parish. The site was given by Thomas Marlow of Aldridge. (fn. 357) In 1872 a parish was assigned out of St. Matthew's. (fn. 358) The Ecclesiastical Commissioners endowed the benefice in 1873 with £200 a year out of the Common Fund. The vicarage has remained in the gift of the bishop of Lichfield. (fn. 359) The vicarage house west of the church was built in 1913 by Elizabeth Laing, sister of the vicar, J. F. Laing, who continued to live there after his retirement in 1921. It was conveyed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for permanent use as a vicarage house in 1932. (fn. 360)
The mission church of St. Mary and All Saints, Palfrey, was opened from St. Michael's in 1893. (fn. 361)
St. Michael's was designed by J. R. Veall of Wolverhampton in an Early English style. (fn. 362) It is built of red sandstone with Bath stone dressings and consists of an apsidal chancel with north-east vestry and north and south chapels, aisled nave, and west porch surmounted by vestries. The aisles were part of the original design but were not built immediately for lack of funds; the north aisle was added in 1878 and the south aisle in 1880. (fn. 363) The south chapel was built by J. F. Laing at some time between 1880 and 1884. (fn. 364) He added the north chapel and vestry in the mid 1920s in memory of Elizabeth. (fn. 365) The west porch and vestry were added apparently in 1896. (fn. 366) There is a bell on the west gable wall of the nave. The church was gutted by fire in 1964, restored, and reconsecrated in 1967. (fn. 367)
In 1871 a mission chapel dedicated to ST. MARK was built in Butts Road within the parish of St. Michael, Rushall. (fn. 368) A conventional district was established in 1920 with a curate-in-charge. (fn. 369) The building was consecrated in 1925, (fn. 370) and a parish of St. Mark was then formed from Rushall and from the Walsall parishes of St. George, St. Paul, and St. Peter. (fn. 371) The vicarage was in the gift of the bishop of Lichfield and the vicar of Rushall jointly from 1925, (fn. 372) but on its voidance in 1970 the rights of the patrons were suspended. (fn. 373) From 1971 to 1973 the vicar of St. Paul's acted as priest-in-charge; the church was closed in 1973 (fn. 374) and demolished in 1974. A house in the Butts was acquired for the vicar c. 1935. (fn. 375) In 1950 a house in Westbourne Road was purchased as the vicarage house; it was sold in 1971. (fn. 376)
St. Stephen's mission church, Ryecroft, was dedicated in 1890. (fn. 377) It was at first attached to St. Michael's, Rushall, but was transferred to St. Mark's when the parish was formed. (fn. 378) It had been closed by 1946 and was then leased to the Walsall branch of the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's Association, which bought it in 1950. (fn. 379)
The church of St. Mark, designed in a plain Gothic style by Robert Griffiths of Stafford, the county surveyor, (fn. 380) was of red brick with blue-brick dressings. It consisted of sanctuary, north organ chamber, nave, and a west vestry added in 1949. (fn. 381) Over the west end of the church was a bellcot con taining a bell. The church contained a Flemish carved wooden reredos probably of the 16th century, which was brought from St. Mary's, Wolverhampton, in 1948; it was transferred to St. Paul's in 1973. (fn. 382)
The church of ST. GEORGE, Persehouse Street, was built in 1873-5 as part of a scheme for dividing St. Matthew's parish. (fn. 383) Lord Hatherton gave the site. (fn. 384) In 1878 a parish was assigned out of St. Matthew's and the vicarage was endowed with £200 a year. (fn. 385) It was originally intended that the patronage should be exercised alternately by the vicar of St. Matthew's and by a committee of three laymen, (fn. 386) but in fact the incumbents were nominated by the vicar of St. Matthew's. (fn. 387) A vicarage house in that part of Persehouse Street now called Arboretum Road was dedicated in 1892; Lord Hatherton gave the site. (fn. 388) In 1964 the benefice was united with that of St. Paul's, and St. George's was demolished. (fn. 389)
St. George's was designed by Robert Griffiths of Stafford in a Geometric style. It originally consisted of a chancel, with south organ chamber and north vestries, and an aisled nave; a side chapel was added in 1911. A tower and spire were planned but never built. The building was of coursed limestone rubble with facings of Codsall and Penkridge sandstone. The inside walls were faced in brick with Bath stone dressings; the piers of the arcade were of York stone. (fn. 390)
A mission church of ST. MARY AND ALL SAINTS in Sun Street, Palfrey, was built in 1893 and a conventional district assigned from the parish of St. Michael and All Angels. (fn. 391) The church, however, soon proved too small for the needs of the district, whose population was estimated at 5,000 in 1897. (fn. 392) A larger church was built on the corner of Sun and Dale Streets in 1901-2; Thomas Marlow gave the site. (fn. 393) The living was endowed with £1,000. (fn. 394) In 1902 a parish was assigned out of St. Michael's. (fn. 395) The vicarage has remained in the gift of the bishop of Lichfield. (fn. 396) The vicarage house east of the church was built in 1909. (fn. 397)
The church of St. Mary and All Saints was designed by J. E. K. and J. P. Cutts of London (fn. 398) in a mixed Tudor style. It is of red brick and consists of a chancel, with north chapel, organ chamber, north-east vestry, and south chapel, an aisled and clerestoried nave, and north and south porches. There is a bellcot with one bell. The former mission church, still used as a parish hall, is built of corrugated iron in a severe Gothic style.
The church of ST. GABRIEL, Fullbrook, originated in a mission founded in 1936 when a conventional district was formed out of the parishes of St. Matthew, Walsall, St. Michael, Caldmore, St. Mary, Palfrey, and St. Paul, Wood Green, Wednesbury. A curate-in-charge was appointed by the bishop of Lichfield and received a stipend of £300. (fn. 399) Services were at first held in the mission church of the Good Shepherd at Delves Green, transferred from St. Paul's parish. (fn. 400) In 1938 a site in Walstead Road was acquired for the new church, which was consecrated in 1939. The cost of erection was met largely by a bequest from J. F. Laing, vicar of St. Michael's 1877-1921. (fn. 401) Late in 1939 the district became a parish. (fn. 402) The living, at first a perpetual curacy and from 1969 a vicarage, has remained in the gift of the bishop of Lichfield. (fn. 403) The incumbent's house was in Broadway; the present house south-east of the church was built in 1956. (fn. 404)
The mission church of the Annunciation on the Yew Tree estate, West Bromwich, was opened from St. Gabriel's in 1958. (fn. 405)
St. Gabriel's was designed by Lavender & Twentyman of Wolverhampton. (fn. 406) It is a red-brick building in a modern style and consists of chancel surmounted by tower, north Lady chapel, nave, and west baptistery; there is a gallery over the baptistery. At the west end the church is joined by a covered way to a hall, opened in 1971. (fn. 407)