A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 17, Offlow Hundred (Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.
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Originally West Bromwich may have been part of Handsworth parish, but a church had been built by the 12th century and a parish established. The church of All Saints remained the only church in the parish until the 19th century. By then, however, the growth of population, particularly in the southern part of the parish, made a more centrally situated church an urgent need. One was opened in 1829, and others followed, notably in the later 19th century. The earls of Dartmouth, the patrons and lay rectors of the old parish church, generously supported church extension.
Guy de Offini, with the consent of his wife Christine and his son Richard, gave West Bromwich church to Worcester priory c. 1140-5, when his son Ralph became a monk there. The monks alone were to hold the rectory, and any vicar whom they appointed was to hold office at their pleasure. (fn. 1) The grant was apparently challenged by Handsworth church: a synod held at Lichfield by Bishop Clinton (1129-48) accepted that West Bromwich was a church in its own right and not subject to Handsworth. The decision was confirmed by Archbishop Theobald (1139-61). (fn. 2) Bishop Durdent (1149-59) confirmed Guy's grant, and the church was among the possessions confirmed to the monks by the bishop of Worcester in 1149 and by the pope at some time between 1159 and 1163; the pope also confirmed the freedom of West Bromwich from episcopal jurisdiction. (fn. 3)
Worcester soon became involved in further disputes over the church. At a synod held at Lichfield at some time between 1161 and 1182 a certain Hugh the priest acknowledged Worcester's right, and the prior granted him the church, apparently as vicar, in return for an annual pension of ½ mark. (fn. 4) About the same time Henry, the priest at Handsworth, apparently revived his church's claim to West Bromwich. The matter was delegated by the pope to Bishop Foliot of London (1163-87) and was settled by 1181. Worcester granted the church to Henry's proctor for life in return for an annual pension of 5s. Hugh the priest, who was described as having served in the church in the prior's name, was admitted as vicar by the proctor in return for a pension of 1 mark. (fn. 5) A dispute also arose with Guy de Offini's grandson Richard who claimed the patronage, but he recognized Worcester's right in 1213-17. (fn. 6)
In 1217 or 1218 Bishop Cornhill gave Worcester permission to appropriate the church for the soul of King John and to the use of the sick, subject to the interest of Matthew de Cantilupe, presumably the vicar. The bishop repeated the licence, probably on Matthew's death or resignation. It was confirmed by the prior of Coventry and, in 1221, by the pope. (fn. 7)
About 1230 Worcester granted the church to Sandwell priory in return for an annual pension of 6 marks and an undertaking to maintain the church and provide books and ornaments. Bishop Stavensby confirmed the arrangement in 1230 and allowed the monks to serve the church by their own chaplain because of their poverty. (fn. 8) In 1585 an old parishioner stated that he had heard how the priors sometimes attended services at West Bromwich church and also sent straw there on Good Fridays 'to dress up the parishioners' seats against Easter'. (fn. 9)
In 1526 Sandwell's possessions were granted by the Crown to Cardinal Wolsey and by him to Cardinal College, Oxford. (fn. 10) Wolsey, however, seems to have retained some control over West Bromwich church. In 1528 Thomas Cromwell, then Wolsey's servant, ordered William Wyrley, the farmer of the West Bromwich tithes, to eject the curate, John Stylband, and to replace him by 'Sir William, the prior's monk that was'. Stylband refused to go, and there was a scene of some disorder in the church with the two priests competing to say mass. In 1529 Stylband brought an action against Wyrley and the rival priest. (fn. 11)
In 1530 on Wolsey's fall the Sandwell property passed back to the Crown. (fn. 12) The right of appointing to the curacy was still in the hands of the Crown in 1608 when it was reserved in a grant of the rectory, (fn. 13) but by 1680 it was in the hands of the lord of the manor, who still held it in 1708. (fn. 14) By 1710 it had passed to Lord Dartmouth, who had bought Sandwell in 1701. (fn. 15) Thereafter it remained with the earls of Dartmouth until 1969 when it was transferred to the bishop of Lichfield. (fn. 16) The minister was described as a perpetual curate by 1752, and the living became a vicarage in 1868. (fn. 17) Under the terms of an Act of 1819 he must be an Oxford or Cambridge graduate. (fn. 18)
In 1526 it was stated that the priest, not being a vicar, took all the profits except those taken by the farmer of the tithes and accounted for them to 'the house of Sandwell or the officers now there, and they to pay him his wages'. (fn. 19) In 1604 his stipend was £6 and by the 1640s £14. (fn. 20) In 1657 'divers wellaffected inhabitants' petitioned for an augmentation of £20 a year for their minister, and their request was granted by the Trustees for Maintenance of Ministers. (fn. 21) By the late 17th century the Whorwoods as impropriators allowed the curate a stipend of £20 and a house with c. ¼ a.; in addition there were surplice fees, which in 1705 were estimated at some £3 a year. (fn. 22) An assistant curate is recorded from the 1750s. (fn. 23) By 1773 the minister, Edward Stillingfleet, had fixed the assistant's stipend at £40 a year 'because the legal income of the living is small'; privately he agreed to pay £60. (fn. 24)
In 1614 Walter Stanley founded a lectureship to provide a lecturer who would preach every Sunday and on the principal feasts and also visit the sick. He was to be an Oxford or Cambridge graduate, single, and not beneficed elsewhere. Stanley endowed the lectureship with lands in Warwickshire; property in Wednesbury was added later with the proceeds from a sale of timber felled on the Warwickshire estate in 1662. (fn. 25) The income in 1698 was £32 13s. 4d., but it had risen to £132 1s. 6d. by 1800. (fn. 26) It was clearly intended that the lecturer should be a person other than the curate of All Saints', but from the later 17th century the trustees normally appointed the curate. (fn. 27) The practice was challenged in 1815, (fn. 28) and in 1819 the trust was reorganized by Act of Parliament. The curate of All Saints' was to act as lecturer and might be married. The income was to be divided equally between the curate of All Saints' and the minister of the proposed new church (Christ Church). Both ministers were to be Oxford or Cambridge graduates. (fn. 29) An Act of 1840 allowed the trustees to grant 99-year building leases of the property. (fn. 30) When the leases expired in the 1940s, it became possible to increase the income from rents. An Act of 1949 provided that the muchimproved income should be divided among all the parishes within the bounds of the ancient parish after the payment of £600 to the vicar of All Saints' and £400 to the vicar of Christ Church. (fn. 31)
The income of the minister was improved in other ways during the 19th century. In 1829 Lord Dartmouth agreed to endow the living, by instalments, with £7,500 to replace the £20 a year which had previously been allowed out of the rectory; the process was completed in 1843. (fn. 32) In addition five augmentations totalling £3,000 were made from Queen Anne's Bounty in 1810, 1811 (two), 1812, and 1817. (fn. 33) In 1845 the minister's income consisted mainly of £345 from Queen Anne's Bounty and Lord Dartmouth's endowment and £151 from the Stanley Trust; there were also fees, which in 1838-41 had averaged £63 a year. (fn. 34)
Sandwell was providing a house for the chaplain of West Bromwich by 1336, apparently in the Hall End area west of All Saints'; the chaplain was still living in that area in 1526, but his house was then described as in decay. (fn. 35) It was in a house at Hall End that the minister and his wife were living in 1611. (fn. 36) About 1758 Lord Dartmouth built a new house for the incumbent, Churchfield House to the south-east of the church. (fn. 37) The old house, at Hall End on the north side of what is now Vicarage Road, became the assistant curate's residence and later the house of the teacher at the school established at Hall End in 1811. About 1843 Lord Dartmouth exchanged Church Farm, opposite the church at the junction of Heath Lane and All Saints Street, for the house at Hall End. Church Farm became the assistant curate's residence, but the incumbents have lived there since the appointment of Frederic Willett in 1865. The house, which may be partly of the 18th century, was enlarged and altered in 1868 and modernized in the early 1930s. (fn. 38) Churchfield House, which reverted to Lord Dartmouth, was derelict by 1945 (fn. 39) and has been demolished.
About 1593 the minister was described as 'scholaris ruralis mediocriter doctus'. (fn. 40) A 1604 Puritan survey described the minister as a layman and no preacher. (fn. 41) It was doubtless to improve that state of affairs that Walter Stanley founded the lectureship in 1614. There is some evidence of Puritan influence in West Bromwich in the 17th century. In 1623 two men were accused of receiving communion seated. (fn. 42) Edward Lane, curate 1643-8, suffered at the hands of 'rebels': one Sunday they dragged him from the reading-desk and into the churchyard where they burnt the surplice and prayer-book in front of him. (fn. 43) In 1658 Moses Bennett of West Bromwich complained to quarter sessions that in July the minister and the inhabitants had broken the Sabbath and the Thanksgiving Day. (fn. 44) In 1668 he was accused of wearing his hat in church and of refusing to attend divine service, 'saying that he would not come whilst the minister has the devil's clothing, meaning the surplice'. (fn. 45)
In the later 18th century Evangelical influence was strong. The patron was William, earl of Dartmouth (d. 1801), one of the countess of Huntingdon's converts. The incumbents included Edward Stillingfleet (1757-82) and William Jesse (17901814), both notable Evangelicals. (fn. 46) In 1773 there were two services and two sermons every Sunday, with prayers on holy days and a sermon at 6 o'clock on Wednesday evenings. There was a communion service on the first Sunday of the month and on the great feasts, and the communicants numbered between 100 and 200. The children were catechized every Sunday in Lent in the presence of the congregation and privately on Wednesdays and Fridays during the summer. Stillingfleet reported a decline in the number of Roman Catholics and Protestant nonconformists, many of whom were attending the parish church regularly. (fn. 47) A Sunday school was established in 1788. (fn. 48) By 1830 the incumbent (Charles Townsend, 1815-36) was residing only half the year in the parish, being also rector of Calstone Wellington (Wilts.); there was, however, a resident assistant curate. There were still two Sunday services and a monthly communion but no weekday services; the number of communicants had dropped to 65. (fn. 49) In 1861 a group of laymen founded All Saints' Church Association and pressed for more frequent services; a Wednesday evening service was introduced and also a Sunday evensong at the Hallam Street school. (fn. 50)
With the coming of Frederic Willett, incumbent 1865-81, a revival began. (fn. 51) In January 1866 he introduced a fortnightly communion and daily even song, in Advent the same year a weekly communion and daily matins, in 1867 celebrations on saints' days and holy days, in 1868 a celebration every Thursday, and in Advent 1871 a daily eucharist; services were also held in cottages and in the pits. The changes were accompanied by a rapid increase in the number of communicants. A surpliced choir was introduced in 1867, and eucharistic vestments were worn from 1872. In 1871-2 Willett rebuilt the church, considering the existing building totally unworthy. He also established a clergy house in Church Vale in 1871 where men could be trained for ordination. (fn. 52) A parochial council was formed in 1872. In 1866 a parish house was opened in Hargate Lane for the care of the sick and the poor.
Willett's ritualistic innovations and teachings provoked considerable opposition. Although the Easter Vestry of 1873 passed a resolution supporting him, the same year a petition against his practices was sent to the bishop. The 1,746 signatories included the vicar of St. James's, Hill Top, and (reluctantly, it seems) Lord Dartmouth. The bishop's reply did not satisfy the petitioners, and an appeal was made to the archbishop of Canterbury. The petitioners were even rumoured to be planning a citation in the ecclesiastical courts. In 1874 the board of guardians banned the parish magazine from the workhouse because the chaplain considered its contents to be against the spirit and teaching of the Church of England. (fn. 53) After Willett had retired for reasons of health in 1881 (fn. 54) his successor, M. M. Connor, quickly discontinued the use of altar lights other than for lighting purposes and of vestments, wafer bread, the ceremonial mixing of the chalice, and obeisance to the altar. In 1883 he abandoned the daily eucharist on the ground that the parishioners were not yet ready 'for the exceptional spiritual advantages offered them in a daily celebration of holy communion'. (fn. 55)
Frederic Willett also established mission churches, believing that everyone should be within half a mile of the 'means of grace'. (fn. 56) The work had begun earlier, for All Saints' was badly situated to serve the new centre of population which developed in the southern part of the parish in the early 19th century. The first new church was Christ Church, opened in High Street in 1829. (fn. 57) Even so West Bromwich was declared by the archdeacon in 1839 to be ecclesiastically one of the worst provided places in the Black Country, with accommodation for less than a ninth of its population. (fn. 58) In 1841 he even urged the incumbent of All Saints' to consider rebuilding his church on a larger scale and in a more central district; the incumbent replied that Lord Dartmouth did not favour the idea. (fn. 59) New places of worship continued to be opened from All Saints' in the course of the 19th century. Holy Trinity was opened in 1841, (fn. 60) St. James's, Hill Top, in 1842, (fn. 61) St. Michael's, John Street, in 1866 (closed in 1868), (fn. 62) and St. Andrew's, Old Meeting Street, in 1867. (fn. 63) St. Michael's, Frederick Street, was opened in 1868 in a former nonconformist chapel; it was renamed St. Chad's in 1872, apparently when St. Michael's, Wood Lane, was opened, and was used until c. 1879. (fn. 64) St. Mary the Virgin, Hateley Heath, started in a disused public house in 1870; in 1871 it was replaced by a school-church in Jowett's Lane which c. 1881 became exclusively a mission church and so continued until c. 1888. (fn. 65) St. Mary Magdalene, Cottrell Street, was built in 1871, closed in 1965, and replaced by the church hall of St. Mary Magdalene in Beacon View Road on the Charlemont Farm housing estate in 1967. (fn. 66) The Friar Park area was transferred to St. Paul's, Wood Green, Wednesbury, in 1875, and when Friar Park itself became a conventional district in 1931, the Stone Cross portion of All Saints' parish was added to it. (fn. 67)
The 19th century saw several attempts to reach the people of the parish by means of the printed word. In 1819 the vestry was alarmed by 'blasphemous and seditious publications' calculated to turn the lower orders of the parish 'not only from obedience to the laws but also from that respect to the authority of divine revelation on which the laws must mainly depend'. It was resolved to launch a subscription so that 'tracts of a different and opposite tendency' could be bought and circulated. (fn. 68) A depot of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge was opened c. 1857. (fn. 69) The parish magazine was started by Frederic Willett in 1866. (fn. 70) By the mid 1880s there was a parochial library with 150 members. (fn. 71)
The present church of ALL SAINTS dates from 1871-2. The building which it replaced had been altered on several occasions, notably in the late 18th century when a major reconstruction took place. The dedication was originally to St. Clement but was changed apparently in the 19th century. (fn. 72)
A baluster shaft possibly of the late 11th century, now reset in the tower, may come from the tower of an early church on the site. By the early 14th century there were a chancel and north aisle, (fn. 73) and the lower stages of the present tower were built or rebuilt in that century. A north chapel, the family chapel of the Stanleys, had probably been built by 1534, although described as new in 1552; it was apparently situated at the east end of the north aisle. (fn. 74) A south chapel, the family chapel of the Whorwoods and of their successors at Sandwell, the earls of Dartmouth, was built in 1619 under the terms of the will of Sir William Whorwood (d. 1614). (fn. 75) It seems that there was never a south aisle, (fn. 76) so that the south chapel must always have projected from the body of the church. A south porch, whose date of construction is not known, was repaired in 1706. (fn. 77) At a public meeting in 1713 it was agreed to have the church ceiled. (fn. 78) A north gallery existed by 1755 and a second was approved in that year; a gallery at the west end had probably been erected by then. (fn. 79)
In 1786 a major reconstruction was set in hand by the vestry. (fn. 80) The result was that the body of the church, consisting of chancel, nave, north aisle, and north chapel, was converted into 'one large space' 64 ft. by 41 ft.; the tower that had stood at the west end of the nave survived as a south-west tower, and the south chapel and apparently the south porch survived also. The side walls were raised, and the roof was completely renewed. Two rows of classical windows were inserted on the south side and presumably on the north as well. A projecting vestry was built at the east end with a window in the east wall on either side of it; that to the south was the east window of the former chancel and that to the north the east window of the former north chapel. Within the body of the church a sanctuary was defined by an elliptical arch on pilasters. North and south galleries were erected; the existing west gallery was evidently retained. Extensive use was made of brick in the new work.
The next major structural alteration was made in 1854 when a sanctuary with an east window was built in place of the vestry, at the expense of the 4th earl of Dartmouth (d. 1853); the two windows on either side were filled in. The 5th earl allowed the Whorwood chapel to be turned into a vestry. (fn. 81) A clock was installed in the tower in 1794, and a sundial was placed on the south face in the 1840s. (fn. 82) About 1862 the three-decker pulpit, dating apparently from the later 1780s, was replaced by a pulpit and reading-desk 'in a more suitable position'. At the same time the high pews were lowered and the square ones divided. (fn. 83)
The church was rebuilt on a larger scale in 1871-2, with the exception of the tower and the former Whorwood chapel. (fn. 84) Lord Dartmouth, Frederic Willett and his wife Mary, and J. N. Bagnall and his wife, the parents of Mary Willett, contributed towards the cost. The church is of sandstone and was designed in a mixture of Early English and Decorated styles by Somers Clarke the younger. It consists of chancel with north organ chamber and south vestry and chapel, nave, south aisle, and north and south porches; the medieval tower, which was restored in the course of the rebuilding, stands at the west end of the aisle. The former Whorwood chapel, which was apparently much restored, (fn. 85) leads off the aisle and is used as the choir vestry.
The 15th-century font (fn. 86) and the chest formed from a hollowed tree (fn. 87) presumably survive from the medieval church. The oak altar table in the chapel is dated 1626. (fn. 88) Two Whorwood effigies that had survived the reconstruction of the 1780s were placed between the chancel and the south aisle; they have been identified as probably those of Ann (d. 1599), wife of Sir William, and their fourth son Field (d. 1658). (fn. 89)
In 1553 the church goods included a silver chalice, parcel gilt, with a paten, and a pyx 'bound about with silver'. (fn. 90) The plate in 1830 consisted of two silver cups and patens, a pewter flagon, and two pewter dishes. (fn. 91) When the church was rebuilt in 1871-2 a chalice in use in the previous church was reworked in parcel gilt and set with precious stones. (fn. 92)
In 1553 there were four 'great bells'. (fn. 93) The rebuilt church of 1872 had a ring of eight: (i) 1842; (ii), (iv), and (vi) 1711; (iii) and (vii) 1832; (v) recast 1872; (viii) 1848. (fn. 94) All the bells were recast in 1918, the cost being met with a legacy of £100 from George Salter. (fn. 95)
The registers date from 1608 and are substantially complete. (fn. 96)
The churchyard contains memorials from the late 17th century onwards. It has been steadily enlarged since the later 18th century. (fn. 97) A lich-gate was built at the main entrance in 1876 in memory of Thomas Jesson of Oakwood (d. 1873). Another, leading into the extension of the churchyard east of the church, was erected by Jesson's sons the Revd. Henry and the Revd. Thomas Jesson in memory of their sister Susan (d. 1878). (fn. 98)
The first new church in West Bromwich was CHRIST CHURCH, built in the 1820s in the present High Street, the new centre of the parish over a mile from All Saints' Church. The foundation-stone was laid in 1821, but work was delayed when the builder went bankrupt in 1822 and the church was not consecrated until January 1829. Nearly three-quarters of the cost was met by parliamentary grant and the rest by private subscribers. (fn. 99) Under an Act of 1819 the minister enjoyed half the income from the Stanley Trust. (fn. 100) Because of the grant from the Stanley Trust the appointment of the minister was shared between Lord Dartmouth, patron of All Saints', and the Stanley Trustees, Lord Dartmouth submitting the names of two Oxford or Cambridge graduates to the trustees. (fn. 101) In 1969 Lord Dartmouth transferred his interest to the bishop of Lichfield. (fn. 102) In 1837 a parish was formed covering the southern part of the ancient parish. (fn. 103) The living, at first a perpetual curacy, became a vicarage in 1868. (fn. 104) A house on the Sandwell estate, Coopers Hill House, was originally provided for the minister by Lord Dartmouth. (fn. 105) The incumbents, however, had various residences (fn. 106) until the present vicarage in Bratt Street next to the church was built in 1891, to the designs of Wood & Kendrick of West Bromwich. (fn. 107)
The following churches and missions have been opened from Christ Church: Greets Green in 1851; (fn. 108) a mission in a house in Twenty House Row, Ault Street, by c. 1860; (fn. 109) St. John's in the 1860s; (fn. 110) St. Philip's in 1874; (fn. 111) St. Mark's in Duke Street, where an iron mission church was opened in 1892 and replaced in 1904 by a larger brick church used for services until 1933; (fn. 112) St. Stephen's (the former St. Philip's) c. 1892-3; (fn. 113) Christ Church Mission Room c. 1892-3; (fn. 114) and the Mission Hall at the Walsall Street schools c. 1910, continuing until the 1920s. (fn. 115)
Christ Church, of brick cased in Tixall stone, was designed by Francis Goodwin in a mixed Decorated and Perpendicular style. (fn. 116) The interior is in effect a single large space with a shallow chancel at the east end; there are galleries on three sides, and those on the north and south create aisles beneath them. There is a west tower. The window frames and tracery are of iron. (fn. 117) The design of the tracery of the east window had been used by Goodwin at St. Matthew's, Walsall. (fn. 118) The church was badly damaged by mining subsidence during the mid 1850s and was restored in 1858; the screen, which had darkened the interior, was replaced by 'a most elegant stone arch designed by Mr. Christian' (presumably Ewan Christian). (fn. 119) The three-decker pulpit at the east end of the nave was apparently then cut in half to form the pulpit and the minister's stall. (fn. 120) Further damage from subsidence led to another restoration in 1876. (fn. 121) At the same time there was a general reorganization of the interior. The small chancel was extended one bay into the nave and aisles, and choir stalls were introduced along with a surpliced choir. The original organ was replaced, and the position was changed from the west gallery to the north side of the chancel. The pews were reduced in height and their doors taken away. A new pulpit was installed in 1911. (fn. 122) The Lady chapel at the end of the north aisle was constructed in 1917. (fn. 123) The church originally had only two bells; eight more were added by public subscription in 1847 and two more as a tribute to William Gordon, the first minister, on his retirement in 1850. (fn. 124) The bells were recast and reduced to a ring of eight in 1954. (fn. 125) The lime trees along the churchyard walks were planted in 1880. (fn. 126)
The church of HOLY TRINITY was built by a committee in 1840-1 to serve the south-eastern part of the town. Subscribers included George Salter and William Chance, and the site was given by George Silvester. (fn. 127) An endowment of £1,000 was received from Thomas Hood and Edward Bullock, and in 1850 a grant of £200 was made from Queen Anne's Bounty. (fn. 128) The right of nominating the minister was granted by the bishop to trustees. (fn. 129) A parish was assigned out of Christ Church parish in 1842. (fn. 130) The living, at first a perpetual curacy and a vicarage from 1868, has remained in the gift of trustees (now the Peache Trustees). (fn. 131) A vicarage house was built on part of the site in 1844. (fn. 132)
In 1872 the schoolroom in Lower Trinity Street was licensed for divine service. It was used as a mission room until c. 1937. (fn. 133) Open-air services were held in the parish during Robert Thompson's time as vicar (1902-16); he was helped by Ethel Silvester, granddaughter of the donor of the site, who worked in the parish as a deaconess from 1906 to 1918. (fn. 134)
Holy Trinity Church is of brick and was designed by S. W. Dawkes in an Early English style. (fn. 135) It stands in a walled churchyard with streets on three sides and the vicarage house on the fourth. It consists of chancel, nave with galleries on three sides, and west tower; there is a small north porch near the east end, and the porches on either side of the tower were added c. 1872. (fn. 136) The chancel was burnt down early in 1861 but was at once rebuilt. (fn. 137) The position of the organ was then changed from the chancel to the west gallery; soon after Robert Thompson's appointment as vicar in 1902 the organ was moved to the south side of the chancel, new stalls were provided, and a surpliced choir was introduced. (fn. 138) The pews, arranged in a large central block and two smaller blocks under the galleries, apparently date from 1884 when the existing 'close high-backed pews' were removed. (fn. 139)
Land for a church at Hill Top was given in 1840 by Joseph Hateley of Walsall, and the church of ST. JAMES there was licensed in 1842 and consecrated in 1844. Subscribers towards the cost included Lord Dartmouth and James Bagnall. (fn. 140) In 1844 a parish was formed covering the northwestern part of the ancient parish. (fn. 141) The patronage of the living, at first a perpetual curacy and a vicarage from 1868, was held initially by the incumbent of All Saints', but in 1849 it was vested in the earls of Dartmouth. (fn. 142) In 1865 it was transferred to the bishop of Lichfield, who still holds it. (fn. 143) The living was endowed with £50 a year out of the impropriated tithes by Lord Dartmouth, who in 1845 also invested £300 for the insurance and repair of the church. In 1849 a further £50 a year was transferred to St. James's out of the endowment of All Saints'. (fn. 144) When the patronage was transferred to the bishop, the living was endowed with £102 a year out of the Common Fund. (fn. 145) In 1876 the benefice was endowed with £800 to provide a vicarage house. (fn. 146) A house on the corner of New Street, Hill Top, was acquired in 1891. (fn. 147) The present vicarage to the north-east of the church was built in 1963. (fn. 148)
St. Paul's, Golds Hill, which originated in a mission opened at the Golds Hill Ironworks in 1853, was in the parish of St. James until 1887. (fn. 149)
The church of St. James, designed by Robert Ebbles, (fn. 150) is of brick in a mainly Perpendicular style. There are two turrets at the west end and also a south-west tower added in 1890 to house the bell which had hung in a bellcot at the east end. (fn. 151) The interior is in effect a single space with a shallow sanctuary; aisles and a larger sanctuary have been created by the arrangement of the seating and other fittings. Originally there were galleries on three sides. (fn. 152) In 1890, in addition to the building of the tower, the façade was pointed in Portland cement and the vestry enlarged. (fn. 153) In 1892 the pews were replaced by chairs; sanctuary rails, a pulpit, an eagle lectern, and a font were presented; the organ was moved from the west gallery to the north side of the sanctuary; a surpliced choir was introduced and a choir vestry constructed; and generally 'the appointments of public worship' were made 'brighter and more reverent'. (fn. 154) The north and south galleries were removed in 1904, and the chairs were replaced by pews. (fn. 155) In the earlier 1960s the screen, erected in 1901, was moved to create a side chapel on the north and the sanctuary was refurnished. (fn. 156) By the late 1960s a modern organ had been installed.
By 1842, fifteen years before the building of the church of ST. PETER in Whitehall Road, there was a need for a church at Greets Green in Christ Church parish. John Bagnall & Sons had offered a site, but it proved impossible to raise enough money for building and endowment. (fn. 157) A room at Greets Green was hired for services in 1851. (fn. 158) St. Peter's, begun in 1857 on a site given by Sir Horace St. Paul, Bt., and Edward Jones, was consecrated in 1858. The living was granted a capital endowment of £1,000 from Queen Anne's Bounty. (fn. 159) A parish was assigned out of Christ Church parish in 1861. (fn. 160) The living, at first a perpetual curacy and a vicarage from 1868, has remained in the gift of the bishop of Lichfield. (fn. 161) Land given in 1856 as the site for the minister's house was used to extend the churchyard in 1882, (fn. 162) and the vicarage house was in fact in Old Meeting Street by the 1880s; the vicar was living in Fisher Street by the mid 1890s. (fn. 163) A new house in Whitehall Road north of the church was completed in 1898; it was largely paid for by Henry Jesson, vicar 1893-1910, who had served his first curacy in the parish. (fn. 164)
A mission of St. Matthew was being served from St. Peter's c. 1870. (fn. 165) It was apparently replaced by a mission room which was opened in 1885 'amid the poorest of the population' with the result that many were 'brought to church who had never previously attended any place of worship'; it was in turn replaced by a new room in 1886. (fn. 166) A mission chapel of St. Thomas was opened in 1874 in a former Methodist chapel and remained in use until c. 1885. (fn. 167)
The church of St. Peter, designed by Johnson & Son of Lichfield, (fn. 168) is of stone in a Decorated style and consists of chancel, aisled and clerestoried nave with south porch, and west tower. The churchyard was extended in 1881, 1882, and 1891. (fn. 169)
The church of ST. PAUL, Golds Hill, originated in a mission centre started at the Golds Hill Ironworks of John Bagnall & Sons in St. James's parish in 1853 and served by the firm's chaplain. It was replaced by the school which was opened at the works in 1855 and used as a chapel on Sundays 'for the working classes and others employed on the works'; the architect was S. W. Dawkes. (fn. 170) By 1868 the chapel was known as the Golds Hill Iron Works Episcopal Chapel. (fn. 171) It was replaced by St. Paul's Church which was built in Bagnall Street in 1881-2 (fn. 172) and consecrated in 1886. (fn. 173) In 1887 a parish of St. Paul was assigned out of St. James's. (fn. 174) The patronage of the vicarage was vested in the vicar of St. James's, (fn. 175) but in 1923 he exchanged it for the patronage of St. John's, Tipton, with the vicar of St. Martin's, Tipton, in order to preserve the different ecclesiastical traditions of each church—'Reformed principles' in the case of St. Paul's. (fn. 176) The vicar of St. Martin's remains the patron. (fn. 177) With the building of St. Paul's the mission centre of 1853 was turned into a house for the curate-in-charge. (fn. 178) The present vicarage house to the east of the church dates from 1892. (fn. 179) The parish hall dates from 1898. (fn. 180)
A mission room was opened in Brickhouse Lane in 1889. At that time there was also a group of mission workers under a lay evangelist holding open-air and indoor services every night 'in a distant and hitherto neglected part of the parish'. (fn. 181) A new mission room, dedicated to St. Mary, was built in Brickhouse Lane in 1892. It was leased to Steel Parts Ltd. in 1935 and sold to the firm in 1937. (fn. 182)
The church of St. Paul, which is not orientated, (fn. 183) is of brick with stone dressings. It consists of chancel with 'south' organ transept and 'north' vestry, and nave with 'south' porch; there is a bellcot with a bell over the junction of the chancel and nave. The furnishings and part of the structure were brought from Capponfields in Bilston. Bagnalls had built a chapel there for their workers in the 1850s; when that was closed the vicar of St. James's, West Bromwich, bought the building, and much of it was transported to Golds Hill for St. Paul's. (fn. 184)
The church of ST. JOHN THE EV ANGELIST in Sams Lane originated in St. John's mission in Christ Church parish which was started in the 1860s at Newhall Street National School. (fn. 185) The church was built in 1876-8 on a site given by W. H. Dawes of the Bromford Ironworks. (fn. 186) A parish was assigned out of Christ Church parish in 1879, (fn. 187) and in 1880 the living was endowed with an income of £200 a year. (fn. 188) The first presentation to the vicarage was made by the vicar of Christ Church; the patronage then passed to the bishop of Lichfield. (fn. 189) The church ceased to be used in 1960 and was demolished in 1963. (fn. 190) In 1966 the parish was reorganized, the benefice being united with that of the Good Shepherd. A new church, dedicated to the Good Shepherd with St. John Evangelist, was opened in Lyttleton Street in 1968. (fn. 191) A vicarage house was built behind the church in 1882; (fn. 192) it too has been demolished.
A mission chapel dedicated to the Good Shepherd was opened in Ault Street in 1880. (fn. 193) Much was done for the mission by N. T. Langley, vicar of St. John's 1888-1900, who also enlarged St. John's. (fn. 194) In addition he was active in social work. In 1889 he opened the Young Men's Club and Gymnasium at the former Newhall Street school; despite its entirely working-class membership and the vicar's insistence that there should be no subscription, the club was self-supporting. In 1893 Langley was also holding for the young men of the parish an institute on Wednesday nights, a social club on Saturdays, and a Bible class at the vicarage on Sunday afternoons. (fn. 195)
The former church of St. John the Evangelist, a brick building designed in the Early English style by E. J. Etwall of West Bromwich, at first consisted only of chancel, nave, and south aisle. A north aisle was built in 1892, and in 1903 transepts, a vestry, and an organ chamber were added. (fn. 196)
The church of ST. ANDREW in Old Meeting Street was built in 1867 on a site given by Thomas Jesson and was used both as a mission church served from All Saints' and as a National school. (fn. 197) In 1877 the building became a church only. (fn. 198) A new church in Dudley Street was consecrated in 1925. (fn. 199) In 1879 a parish was formed out of the parishes of All Saints, Christ Church, St. James, and St. Peter. (fn. 200) In 1880 it was endowed out of the Common Fund with an income of £200 a year. (fn. 201) The patronage of the vicarage has remained with the vicar of All Saints'. (fn. 202) The vicarage house in Old Meeting Street, replacing one to the north on the corner of Bilhay Lane, dates from 1894; it was designed by Wood & Kendrick of West Bromwich. The site was given by Henry Jesson, a former curate of St. Andrew's. (fn. 203) When the new parish was created the mission church of St. Michael in Wood Lane was included in it. (fn. 204)
The first church of St. Andrew was a plain brick building designed by Somers Clarke the younger. (fn. 205) The new church in Dudley Street was designed by Wood & Kendrick; (fn. 206) it is of brick and consists of nave and chancel. The orientation is reversed. Although it was consecrated in 1925, it was not completed until 1940. (fn. 207)
The church of ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS in Bull Lane originated in the wooden mission chapel of St. Michael erected in Wood Lane apparently in 1872. (fn. 208) It was served from All Saints' until its transfer to the new parish of St. Andrew in 1879. (fn. 209) The new church was opened in 1881. Designed by Wood & Kendrick of West Bromwich, it consisted of chancel, nave, sacristy, baptistery, and choir vestry; there was a schoolroom attached. Nearly the whole cost was met by Henry Jesson, who was working as curate-incharge of that part of St. Andrew's parish without any stipend. (fn. 210) St. Michael's was assigned a conventional district in 1903, but in 1911 the district was abolished and the church again became the responsibility of St. Andrew's. (fn. 211) It was closed in 1953 (fn. 212) and was demolished in the earlier 1970s.
The church of ST. PHILIP originated in St. Philip's Mission Room, a former oil warehouse in Pitt Street in Christ Church parish, licensed in 1874. (fn. 213) It was replaced in 1892 by St. Philip's Church on a site in Beeches Road given by Lord Dartmouth. (fn. 214) That building was in turn replaced by the present church, which was built to the east of it in 1898-9. (fn. 215) The 1892 church became a school and later the parish hall. (fn. 216) A new parish of St. Philip was assigned out of Christ Church parish in 1900. (fn. 217) The first nomination to the vicarage was made by the vicar of Christ Church, but the patronage has since been held by the bishop of Lichfield. (fn. 218) By 1967 the congregation was largely West Indian. (fn. 219) The vicarage house in Beeches Road was bought in 1939 to replace another house in the same road. (fn. 220)
St. Philip's Church is of red brick with terracotta dressings and was designed in a Gothic style by Wood & Kendrick. When opened in 1899 it consisted of nave, aisles, 'morning chapel', and vestries. (fn. 221) In 1913-14 the chancel, the Lady chapel, and new vestries were built. (fn. 222) The nave pillars have carvings on the capitals in memory of parishioners named on near-by wall plaques.
In 1880 a mission chapel dedicated to THE GOOD SHEPHERD was built in Ault Street in St. John's parish. (fn. 223) An endowment was established in 1898 to produce a stipend for a curate to serve the district, (fn. 224) and a new chapel in Spon Lane was licensed in 1902. (fn. 225) In 1908 a conventional district was formed. (fn. 226) A church was built on a site adjoining the chapel in 1908-9. Part of the cost was met by £835 left by Mary Smith Dorsett (d. 1878) towards the building and endowing of a new evangelical church in West Bromwich; other contributors included Chance Brothers & Co. Ltd. and members of the Chance family. (fn. 227) The 1902 chapel then became the parish hall. (fn. 228)
A parish was formed in 1910 out of St. John's and Holy Trinity parishes. (fn. 229) The patronage of the vicarage was vested in the bishop of Lichfield and the patrons of Holy Trinity. (fn. 230) In 1966 the parish was reconstituted to include the whole of St. John's and that part of the Good Shepherd parish west of Spon Lane; the remainder of the Good Shepherd parish passed back to Holy Trinity parish. A new benefice of the Good Shepherd with St. John was created and is in the gift of the bishop. (fn. 231) A new parish church was consecrated in 1968, (fn. 232) and the church and parish hall in Spon Lane were subsequently demolished. The vicarage house in Johnston Street dating from 1955 (fn. 233) was replaced in the early 1970s by a new house adjoining the church.
The church of the Good Shepherd was of brick with stone and terracotta dressings and was specially designed to withstand 'the fumes and smoke which are prevalent in the district'. It consisted of chancel with vestry and organ chamber, aisled and clerestoried nave, a south-east turret apparently with a bell, and porches facing Spon Lane on either side of a baptistery; the orientation was reversed. It was designed by Wood & Kendrick. (fn. 234) The church of the Good Shepherd with St. John Evangelist in Lyttleton Street was built in 1967-8 to the plans of the John Madin Design Group of Edgbaston. It is of blue brick in a modern style, and the orientation is reversed. A hall and other rooms form part of the same building.
A mission church of ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI in Friar Park Road was licensed in 1931. (fn. 235) It was part of the parish of St. Paul, Wood Green, Wednesbury, to which the Friar Park area had been transferred from All Saints' parish in 1875. (fn. 236) The conventional district of St. Francis was formed in 1931 out of the parishes of All Saints, West Bromwich, and St. Paul, Wood Green, with a curate-in-charge appointed by the bishop. (fn. 237) The district became a parish in 1937 with the bishop as patron of the vicarage; the living was endowed out of bequests by Henry Marson and his sister Sarah Anne, both of Tettenhall. (fn. 238) A new church at the junction of Freeman and Keir Roads was licensed in 1940 and consecrated in 1941; it had accommodation for some 500 people. The cost was met from the Marson Bequest. (fn. 239) The vicarage house is in Freeman Road and adjoins the church.
The church of St. Francis of Assisi, designed in a Romanesque style by Harvey & Wicks of Birmingham, (fn. 240) is of brick faced with stone on the exterior. It consists of chancel with apsidal sanctuary, aisled nave, west tower, and north and south porches. A Lady chapel leads out of the north aisle, and there is a chapel at the east end of the south aisle furnished by the Friar Park British Legion in memory of those killed in the First World War. (fn. 241)
The mission church of THE ASCENSION in Walsall Road, Stone Cross, in the parish of St. Francis was built in 1938 on land given by Lord Dartmouth. (fn. 242) A conventional district was formed in 1942 under a curate-in-charge appointed by the bishop. (fn. 243) It lasted until 1958 when the building was found to be in a bad state and was given up. (fn. 244) The site reverted to Lord Dartmouth, who sold it in 1961 to the corporation. (fn. 245)
There are now two churches in those parts of Hamstead and the Delves which were added to the borough of West Bromwich in the 20th century. They are respectively the church of ST. BERNARD and the mission church of THE ANNUNCIATION. Hamstead has been in the diocese of Birmingham since 1905.
Hamstead was originally in Handsworth parish, and an iron mission church of St. Paul at the corner of Hamstead Lane and Spouthouse Lane (in that part of Hamstead now in the borough of West Bromwich) was opened from St. Mary's, Handsworth, c. 1870. It was replaced in 1892 by St. Paul's Church in Walsall Road (in that part of Hamstead now in the city of Birmingham). St. Paul's became a parish church in 1894 and eventually opened missions of its own. (fn. 246) The village institute in what is now the West Bromwich part of Hamstead was licensed for worship from c. 1919 to c. 1926. (fn. 247) In 1946 a site for a church was bought at the junction of Broome Avenue and Greenfield Road on the projected Tanhouse estate, but the church of St. Bernard was not built there until 1961-2. Meanwhile services were held at the community centre on the Tanhouse estate from 1956. From 1958 the area was in the charge of a stipendiary curate, and since 1963 it has been the centre of a statutory district under a vicar collated by the bishop of Birmingham. (fn. 248) The church, which was also used as a hall, was incorporated in the new church and community centre designed by John Sharpe and dedicated in 1973. (fn. 249) The vicarage house is in Hamstead Road.
The part of the Delves formerly in Wednesbury and now in West Bromwich is in the parish of St. Gabriel, Fullbrook, in Walsall. The mission church of the Annunciation on the corner of Redwood Road and Thorncroft Way on the Yew Tree estate was dedicated in 1958. Designed by Hickton, Madeley & Salt, (fn. 250) it is of brick and consists of a hall, a sanctuary which can be shut off, and rooms along the north side. The priest-in-charge lives on the estate.