A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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The living, recorded c. 1218, was a rectory (fn. 4) in the patronage of the alien priory of Wenlock. (fn. 5) When it was appropriated to the priory in 1344, the priory became patron of the vicarage but the Crown exercised the priory's patronage, presumably until its denization in 1395; (fn. 6) in the early 16th century the priory was conveying turns. (fn. 7) The advowson passed to the Crown in 1540. Robert Brooke bought it in 1544, (fn. 8) and the Brookes, lords of the manor and Roman Catholics, presented in 1569 (probably the first opportunity) (fn. 9) and through nominees or trustees probably in 1645 (fn. 10) and certainly in 1672 (when the trustees too were Roman Catholics). (fn. 11) Sir Basil Brooke apparently conveyed turns in 1607 and 1626. (fn. 12) Comberford Brooke presented in 1706 (fn. 13) and sold the advowson in 1707 to a former vicar's widow Margaret Taylor (d. 1720), (fn. 14) who presented her son Jeremiah in 1709. Jeremiah (d. 1728), (fn. 15) patron before his mother's death, (fn. 16) later sold the advowson to John Kynaston of Hardwick. (fn. 17) It descended in the Kynastons (fn. 18) until 1847, turns exercised in 1831 and 1841 having been bought from them. (fn. 19) In 1847 Sir J. R. Kynaston sold the advowson to the vicar, J. H. A. Gwyther, and in 1849 Gwyther sold it to the Revd. W. F. Cobb. Cobb sold it in 1858 to the Revd. John Bartlett (d. 1861), (fn. 20) whose widow left it to the Revd. C. F. Cobb (d. 1896). (fn. 21) In 1897 Cobb's heirs sold it to the Church Pastoral Aid Society, the patron in 1980.
The rectory was worth £8 in 1291. (fn. 22) At appropriation the vicar had the former rectory house and the lesser tithes and mortuaries, though mortuary beasts and the tithes of arable crofts were reserved to the priory; the vicar was to pay the precentor of Wenlock 2s. 6d. a year for the lesser tithes of the new town and was to bear all charges on the church except certain clerical taxes. (fn. 23) The vicarage was worth £3 6s. 8d. in 1379 (fn. 24) and £5 5s. in 1535, when there was glebe, (fn. 25) probably 20 a. or more mostly in the open fields but with three pastures for summering three cows. The vicar had no meadow or common but tithed hay throughout the parish. (fn. 26) In the earlier 17th century the lord of the manor paid him 8s. a year in lieu of offerings and tithes, but tenants of the manorial demesne and park paid vicarial tithes, including hay, in the normal way. By the 1660s the lord's 8s. was claimed as a modus in lieu of all vicarial tithes from the Court demesne, and a similar proffer of 25s. a year was being made for the Hay farm. The vicar went to law but the payment of 8s., though agitating a later vicar in 1726, persisted as a modus for the Court demesne. (fn. 27)
The 18th-century vicars tithed a wide range of produce, including that of corn mills, in kind and money. Easter offerings of 3d. a man and 2d. a woman, with smoke penny, garden penny, and an egg for each hen, were due from all households, even Madeley Court; (fn. 28) the Quaker Darbys, however, refused to render them. (fn. 29) On the ground of receiving smoke penny at Easter Jeremiah Taylor claimed tithe wood, but by 1847 woodlands (200 a.) and gardens were tithe-free. (fn. 30) About 1720 Taylor established his right to the minerals under his glebe, in 1722 receiving compensation and royalty of £240 for c. 3,270 tons got under the New Leasow during his incumbency. Royalties came in only occasionally and by 1775 were at a lower rate than those paid to the lords of the manor. (fn. 31) In 1859 the mineral royalties were adjudged to belong to the benefice rather than the incumbent and were used to create a fund for the improvement of the vicarage house. (fn. 32)
The vicarage, of three bays in the later 16th century and two in 1699, (fn. 33) was rebuilt by Taylor c. 1716. (fn. 34) 'Much better' in 1781 than the average country parsonage, (fn. 35) it is of red brick with stone dressings and has a compact plan with an entrance front of five unequal bays and secondary fronts of three bays. Considerable alterations took place in the mid 19th century when a new drawing room was added on the east and a bay window on the south. Most of the windows on the entrance front were then blocked and the principal rooms refitted. The coach house and stables are mid 19thcentury. The gate piers are contemporary with the house but the iron gates were hung in 1979. The house was sold in 1976, (fn. 36) a house on the opposite side of the churchyard, once a curate's residence, having been bought in 1972 and rebuilt as the vicarage. (fn. 37)
The benefice was worth £34 a year c. 1708, (fn. 38) c. £85 a year by the later 1750s, (fn. 39) and less than £100 a year 1760-85. (fn. 40) The reputed value in 1819 was £290. (fn. 41) The vicarial tithes were commuted to £226 a year in 1847 (fn. 42) when the living was worth c. £300. (fn. 43) Almost 18 a. of glebe produced £63 rent in 1887. (fn. 44) There were small augmentations in 1871 and 1920. (fn. 45)
Master Philip, a physician, was rector c. 1220. (fn. 46) Richard of Châtillon, rector 1267, (fn. 47) and Otes of Arbois, 1299-1317, (fn. 48) were, like the contemporary priors of Wenlock, (fn. 49) foreigners. Two later rectors, William Hodnet (1320-2) (fn. 50) and James Giffard (1322-3), (fn. 51) and the first vicar John of Bridgnorth (1344-6) bore local names. (fn. 52) The last rector John Aaron, 1323-44, evidently enjoyed the patron's confidence (fn. 53) and became also rector of Broseley chapel, another priory living. In 1344 he was assisted by John of Stirchley, the parochial chaplain, and Roger of Kemberton, chaplain of St. Mary's service. (fn. 54)
By 1547 there was a stock of £6 for a stipendiary, perhaps a parochial chaplain. (fn. 55) The origins of Our Lady's service are unknown, but in the 1540s it was also known as St. Mary's guild and its property was held by two wardens who were also the churchwardens. In 1547 its chaplain had 52s. a year to celebrate at Our Lady's altar. The endowment, including copyhold worth 7s. 6d. a year, consisted mainly of houses, cottages, and c. 9 burgages in the new town; property seems also to have been rented from the lord of the manor by the chaplain or wardens. Robert Brooke bought the guild property from the Crown in 1549. (fn. 56)
The mid 16th-century vicars were local men: William Warham, occurring 1535, d. c. 1538, and William Buckenall, 1539-53 or later, (fn. 57) came from established local families, (fn. 58) and Buckenall's immediate successor, possibly William Parkinson, 1562-9, was presented by the owners of a turn bought by local men in 1539. (fn. 59) No vicar before 1645 is known to have been at university though Buckenall, as guild chaplain, presumably taught the grammar school (fn. 60) and Thomas Lawe, 1569- 1607 had had some schooling. Lawe was probably the first vicar presented by the Brookes, and the patron may have wanted him as a man ordained before the Reformation. (fn. 61) He was old by the 1580s and had a curate. His successor William Clemson, 1607-26, was 'not a preacher'. (fn. 62) Michael Richards, 1645-71, a graduate, was presented after the parishioners had testified to his 'painful and industrious' pastorate in supplying the late vicar's place. A good preacher, (fn. 63) Richards was a Presbyterian. (fn. 64) His living was augmented by £30 from the sequestrated rectory, but from 1650 he found it difficult to get from the lessee. (fn. 65) For almost three centuries Richards's successors were university men. For 90 years most were local men, some of them pluralists. (fn. 66)
In 1757 Rowland Chambre (fn. 67) made the Swiss J. W. Fletcher (de la Fléchère) his curate, (fn. 68) probably to entitle him to holy orders. Tutor to Thomas Hill's sons at Tern and one of the century's most extraordinary religious figures, Fletcher was converted in 1755 and became a Methodist. He was doing duty in Madeley by 1759 but his preaching antagonized local clergymen. The embarrassed Hill (fn. 69) offered him a Cheshire living, (fn. 70) refused as too rich and easy. Chambre, however, took it, and in 1760 Hill's nephew Edward Kynaston put Fletcher into Madeley. The parish did not confine Fletcher's ministry: he founded Methodist societies round about and in the mid 1760s was active throughout the coalfield. From 1770, however, as the leading anti-Calvinist Evangelical after John Wesley, (fn. 71) he was preoccupied with controversy. His pastoral work in the early 1770s was concentrated on Madeley but from 1776, broken in health, he spent much time away. In 1782 he returned newly married but with just over three years to live.
Fletcher's incumbency began an eighty years' exposure of Madeley to intense Evangelical and Methodist influences, more generally potent after his death. John Smitheman, lord of the manor, opposed his institution and soon left the parish. (fn. 72) In 1768 Fletcher counted no farmer in the parish as God-fearing and met hostility or indifference from his churchwardens and neighbouring clergy. His theology was disputed by the Quakers, led by the Darbys, and by his own prominent convert Richard Hill of Hawkstone, (fn. 73) who published an attack on him in 1773 and had it hawked round Madeley. Fletcher reciprocated Roman Catholic hostility by opposing the opening of a mass house in 1769.
Though there were rich converts and believers, Fletcher hoped that the poor, with fewer worldly ties, would be more susceptible to religion than their betters. (fn. 74) His chief concern was for their conversion. (fn. 75) Though privately relieving poverty, he was no social or political reformer (fn. 76) but staunchly conservative, cursed by the colliers for helping to crush the food riots of 1782. (fn. 77) Believing the millenium imminent, he exhorted the ironworkers to seek providential or spiritual promptings in their working routine and daily round. His fervent piety lacked the check of common sense. (fn. 78) Uncomprising with ordinary worldliness, (fn. 79) he not only strove against his parishioners' brutalizing recreations (fn. 80) and drunkenness (fn. 81) but criticized even mild diversions and children's play. Not surprisingly he was prey to a sense of failure and his epitaph ends with Isaiah's complaint against 'a disobedient and gainsaying people'. (fn. 82)
Fletcher's wholehearted disciples were a select congregation, governed and separated by the discipline of church Methodism persisting until the 1830s in Madeley, long after it had ceased elsewhere. After 1785 the living had passed to more conventional clergymen, (fn. 83) but Fletcher's work had been continued by his widow Mary (d. 1815) (fn. 84) and her adopted daughter Mary Tooth (d. 1843). (fn. 85) They lived in the vicarage (fn. 86) and Mary Fletcher chose the Evangelical curates, Melville Horne, 1786-92, and Samuel Walter, 1792-1815. Isolated from the robust growth of denominational differences, the Madeley church Methodists living under this régime became an introspective, unworldly, and timorous group, harbouring Fletcher's millenarian expectations and living on memories of him nourished by dreams and visions. A cult of medieval intensity grew up: relics and pictures were treasured and displayed, the church and vicarage became places of pilgrimage, and posthumous appearances of Fletcher were recorded in the Evangelical magazines.
From 1815 Methodists and church people grew apart. Both claimed the succession to Fletcher's labours though there was no open conflict. A generation after his death Fletcher was a less contentious and apparently more powerful influence on the parish than during his life. The parish church remained strongly Evangelical and, like the Wesleyan chapels, well attended. (fn. 87) Even later it was to Fletcher's influence that observers ascribed a high degree of civilization among the Madeley working classes and an unusual standard of cleanliness and comfort in the miners' cottages. (fn. 88)
As denominational separation of Madeley Methodists and church people was completed in the early 1830s (fn. 89) there was a sustained growth of church activity. Day schools and (at Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale) new churches were founded. Local industrialists helped to start services at Coalport and Aqueduct. Near Coalport a schoolroom in a Madeley Wood Co. warehouse was licensed for worship in 1842. (fn. 90) and from 1909 or earlier until 1946 services were held in the Coffee Room, owned by the church 1935-c. 1948. In 1934, besides occasional meetings, there was monthly communion and a 40-strong Sunday school. House services seem to have begun in 1946 and after the Coffee Room's closure there was monthly communion in the Coronation Hall. (fn. 91) James Foster built St. Paul's mission church, Aqueduct (opened 1851 and enlarged to hold 200 in 1864), for his Madeley Court workers. The Fosters paid for its renovation in 1909, when a silver communion service was acquired, (fn. 92) gave the building to the church in 1951, and were still contributing to running costs in the 1950s. (fn. 93)
The Evangelical tradition produced an austerity of worship apt for the new parish church opened in 1797. (fn. 94) The parish clerk evidently led the singing, (fn. 95) and the singers in the gallery had to keep to plain tunes. (fn. 96) In the 1820s, however, the singers were encouraged to instruct children and others, and the parish began to buy instruments for them. (fn. 97) An organ was given in 1839. (fn. 98) Joseph Reynolds gave a silver communion service in 1825 (fn. 99) and a silver paten was made from two chalices used until then. (fn. 100) The plate had included a silver chalice and a paten parcel gilt in 1552-3, but in 1664 and 1687 only a carved silver bowl and two pewter flagons and a plate were mentioned. (fn. 101) In the 18th and 19th centuries communion was monthly. (fn. 102) Ringing on 5 November had continued after the six bells of 1726-7 (fn. 103) were rehung in 1798, and the custom was kept up in the early 20th century, when royal birthdays were similarly celebrated.
There was great emphasis on preaching: by the mid 19th century there were two or three Sunday sermons and a Wednesday evening one. (fn. 104) J. H. A. Gwyther (from 1857 Phillips), (fn. 105) vicar 1841-59, and G. E. Yate, 1859-1908, taught Fletcher's doctrines and worked on his 'theological lines'. (fn. 106) Yate's relations owned Madeley Hall, and family ties (fn. 107) connected him to clergymen who had officiated under John and Mary Fletcher. (fn. 108) Services were attended by up to 800 c. 1880. Many lay people continued to be involved in church work and, as well as the services at Coalport, there were regular church meetings at Lower Madeley, Blists Hill, and the Lloyds; (fn. 109) the Lloyds mission still existed in the mid 1920s. (fn. 110) Towards the end of his long incumbency Yate had a curate, and there was a lay reader paid for by the patron. There were 43 Sunday school teachers, 27 district visitors, temperance and other societies, and an adult bible class of 70-80. There were probably c. 150 regular monthly communicants. Weekly communion was introduced by the energetic E. B. Pryce, 1909- 24. (fn. 111)
The 20th-century vicars normally had a curate, (fn. 112) sometimes two, (fn. 113) and lay readers and district visitors were active in Pryce's time. Pryce began the parish magazine in 1909 and was responsible for the Laudian alterations of 1909- 10 (fn. 114) which focussed attention on the communion table rather than the pulpit. At the same time a new organ was installed (fn. 115) and Pryce made the services more musical and introduced a surpliced choir. (fn. 116) The six bells of 1726-7 were recast c. 1944 when two more were given. (fn. 117) Pew payments were discontinued in 1948. (fn. 118) A parish hall was acquired in 1952 but was sold in 1968, the former Church Street infant school having been used as a hall since 1965. (fn. 119)
Of Pryce's successors only Alexander Lord, 1955-69, stayed ten years or more. The building of new estates at Sutton Hill, Woodside, and Brookside 1966-75 greatly increased the population, and in 1968 a pastoral centre owned by the church was opened at Sutton Hill, where the curate lived in the late 1970s, looking after a local congregation. Woodside and Brookside church people had the use of Baptist and Methodist pastoral centres. Brookside was transferred to Central Telford parish in 1980, St. Paul's, Aqueduct, closing at the same time. (fn. 120)
The former church of ST. MICHAEL consisted of nave, chancel, and north tower near the east end of the nave; east and west of the tower were a north chancel and a north aisle. Perhaps by the 1640s there was a clock on the north side of the tower. (fn. 121) The lower part of the tower may have been 12th-century. A cottage-like building (fn. 122) north of the tower was evidently the 'cross-aisle' mentioned in 1717; it had a west door. (fn. 123) North and east windows in the north chancel and north aisle may have been 13th- or 14th-century, (fn. 124) as may a window near the west end of the chancel's south wall; other windows in the nave's south wall and at the chancel's east end were probably 17th- and 18th-century. Blocking of windows, and perhaps of a door, in the chancel's south wall may have been done in the late 17th century when private pews were erected. A south porch was built in 1661, (fn. 125) a small north porch at a date unknown.
The north chancel was called the Lady chancel in 1659 (fn. 126) and may have originated as a chapel for St. Mary's guild. Later it was known as the Lord's chancel. (fn. 127) It contained Brooke family monuments, (fn. 128) and in the 18th century members of the families who succeeded them at Madeley Court (fn. 129) and Hay farm (fn. 130) were buried there.
By the late 17th century the impropriator had a pew on the north side of the chancel; (fn. 131) it is unlikely to have been used by him save between c. 1713 and 1770. (fn. 132) In 1683 other family pews were built in the chancel; (fn. 133) with other pews built elsewhere in the church, they descended with houses in the parish. Private pews were erected under the tower in 1712 and in the cross aisle in 1717. In 1722 a gallery for the iron and coal miners was built over the north aisle; it may have extended into the west end of the nave, a gallery there, with that over the north aisle, being enlarged 1749-50. By 1786 the front of the west gallery was reserved for the parish singers. (fn. 134)
In 1788 the vestry had the tower taken down. (fn. 135) The building of a new church was soon mooted but only in 1794 did a vestry committee approve a revised plan by Thomas Telford (fn. 136) for a building to provide 600 sittings for some £1,600. The old church, then ruinous, was demolished, and for two and a half years Sunday morning services were held in the vicarage barn, afternoon services (including baptisms and celebrations of holy communion) in Coalbrookdale and Madeley Wood schoolrooms. The new church was opened in 1797.
Externally Telford's church, (fn. 137) not orientated, was an octagon lit by two tiers of iron-framed windows, (fn. 138) with a square north tower. Even before the alterations of 1909-10 a more conventional internal arrangment of rectangular 'nave' leading to a narrower southern 'chancel' was defined by the rectangular plan of west, north, and east galleries and by corner vestries squaring off the south end. Until 1909 the pulpit, a three-decker until 1904, stood before the communion table; behind it the clear-glazed south window was curtained. (fn. 139) Outside the upper windows either side of the chancel are the weathered effigies of John and Sir Basil Brooke and their wives, saved from the old church. Other memorials were saved but some furnishings passed into private hands. (fn. 140)
The sale of c. 96 pews in 1795-7 raised £1,018 towards building costs; (fn. 141) the pews descended with houses in the parish. (fn. 142) The west and east galleries were extended over the vestries in 1846 to provide more free places, and c. 1880 the church held 1,000. (fn. 143)
In 1909-10 a chancel was built and the church was receiled, repaved, reseated except for the galleries, and reglazed (fn. 144) with cathedral glass. (fn. 145) The pulpit was moved to the west side of the chancel (fn. 146) and the communion table was elevated on steps. An oak reredos was erected in 1914 (fn. 147) and in 1920 a low open screen, a war memorial, was placed between the choir and nave seats; it was later moved to the back of the nave. E. B. Pryce, the vicar who wrought the changes, later had pictures hung in the church. (fn. 148)
The registers begin in 1645, the earlier ones (fn. 149) having perhaps been destroyed when the church was occupied by troops that year. (fn. 150) Apart from gaps 1667-8, 1676-95, and 1719-26, they are complete. (fn. 151) Marriages were solemnized in Dawley church 1794-7. (fn. 152)
The churchyard was enlarged when the church was rebuilt 1794-7. (fn. 153) Some 1½ a. was added in 1842, 1½ a. more in 1875. (fn. 154) A churchyard renovation fund was established c. 1923, and some mounds were levelled and stones removed in 1957 and 1980. (fn. 155) By 1979 burials were restricted to interments in family graves. (fn. 156)
The church of ST. LUKE, Ironbridge, was built 1835-6 by subscription and with the aid of grants. Prominent subscribers included the Madeley Wood Co. and the Revd. John Bartlett. The church, accommodating 1,062, and its small graveyard were consecrated in 1837, (fn. 157) when James Thompson of the Lightmoor works, gave a silver communion service. (fn. 158)
In 1845 St. Luke's was assigned a parish comprising Ironbridge, Coalbrookdale, and the westernmost parts of the ancient parish. The creation of Coalbrookdale parish in 1851 reduced St. Luke's to little more than Ironbridge, but it was enlarged north-eastwards in 1975. (fn. 159)
The vicar of Madeley was patron, (fn. 160) and in 1978 he was included in the patronage board of a new united benefice of Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge, and Little Wenlock. (fn. 161) Incumbents of Ironbridge were at first known as perpetual curates (fn. 162) but soon after 1858 as rectors. (fn. 163)
Pew rents, paid for over a century, (fn. 164) were at first almost the whole endowment of the living. In 1851 the incumbent received £90 from pew rents, £5 in fees. (fn. 165) Augmentations subscribed in 1848 and 1855, however, were met by grants from Queen Anne's Bounty, (fn. 166) whose governors bought the impropriate tithe rent charge on the ancient parish for the living from Sir J. H. Hawley in 1858. (fn. 167) Augmented in 1859 and 1866, (fn. 168) the living was worth £196 by 1865, £250 by c. 1880; (fn. 169) there were further augmentations in 1909 and the 1920s. (fn. 170)
In 1956 the Rectory, built on land in Hodgebower bought in 1834, was exchanged for Mount Pleasant, also in Hodgebower. (fn. 171) That was given up c. 1976 when the last resident rector died. (fn. 172) The former Madeley Wood Methodist manse, bought in 1978, became a curate's house. (fn. 173)
On Census Sunday 1851 500 adults and 80 children attended in the morning, 700 worshippers in the evening; attendance at the afternoon Sunday school was said to average 160 and upwards. (fn. 174) George Wintour, rector 1867-98, and his predecessors were normally assisted by a curate, (fn. 175) but c. 1880 the church was not well attended. (fn. 176) A lay reader was appointed in 1898. (fn. 177) Under Wintour's successor there seems to have been a rapid improvement, for in 1899 there were more applications for rented pews than could be met. (fn. 178) A new organ was installed in 1900, (fn. 179) a parish magazine existed by 1908, (fn. 180) and from c. 1912 the former parochial infant school was used as a parish room. (fn. 181)
In 1937 the church had a sizeable working-class congregation 'loyal in their financial support'. Singing was hearty, there was a 40-strong choir, and special musical services were frequent. (fn. 182) The church's tradition had been Evangelical but Edward Roberts, rector 1916-50, introduced AngloCatholic forms of worship. (fn. 183) His long incumbency, one of only three to last ten years or more, (fn. 184) ensured the permanency of his changes, but the patron was the nominee of an Evangelical society and in 1956 the bishop collated after lapse. (fn. 185)
The church, by Thomas Smith of Madeley, is Commissioners' Gothic in pale brick, comprising shallow sanctuary, nave with galleries on three sides, and embattled tower. (fn. 186) Orientation is reversed to provide a foundation for the tower. (fn. 187) The tower contains one large (1838) and two small bells clocked for striking hours and quarters; a customary tolling was practised in the early 20th century. Eight tubular bells were hung in 1920 as a war memorial. (fn. 188) An oak reredos and brass altar cross were provided in 1922. The church's renovation 1933-4 included the oakpanelling of the sanctuary (fn. 189) and probably the repewing of the nave. The nave is lit by pairs of lancets cut across by the galleries; aisle-like areas under the galleries were furnished as a children's corner (south) c. 1933 (fn. 190) and a Lady chapel (north) in 1952. (fn. 191) The nave was redecorated in 1954, when the tower clock was given two illuminated faces as a war memorial, (fn. 192) and in 1979 when a pair of bronze gilt candlesticks set with amethysts once Abraham Darby (III)'s was given for the high altar by Lady Labouchere. (fn. 193)
A schoolroom in Coalbrookdale was used for Sunday afternoon services and the administration of sacraments while Madeley church was rebuilt 1794-7. It was probably in the Coalbrookdale Co.'s boys' school, whose new building of 1840 was licensed for worship in 1850. By then the recently baptized Abraham Darby (IV) had undertaken to endow a new benefice with £100 a year. On Census Sunday 1851 morning service was attended by 80 adults and 50 children, after noon service by 100 adults and 60 children. (fn. 196) Later that year Darby gave £6,000, his sister-inlaw Adelaide Anna Darby gave the church site, and HOLY TRINITY church was built 1851-4. (fn. 197)
In 1851 a new parish was formed from Ironbridge and Little Dawley and patronage of the new living was conferred on Abraham Darby (IV). He died in 1878 and his widow became patron. (fn. 198) After her death in 1902 the patronage descended with the Sunniside estate until 1959 when Lady Labouchere and her fellow trustee conveyed it to the bishop of Hereford who, in 1978, was included in the patronage board of the new united benefice of Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge, and Little Wenlock. (fn. 199)
In 1856 pew rents of £62 13s. were assigned to the vicar, and the living was worth £250 in 1865; (fn. 200) ½ a. of glebe produced £12 rent in 1887. (fn. 201) There were augmentations in 1926 and 1955 (fn. 202) and in 1929 the living was worth more than the older churches of Ironbridge and Madeley. (fn. 203)
Abraham Darby (IV) gave the Chesnuts, Darby Road, as a vicarage house c. 1852. (fn. 204) About 1901 a large new vicarage was built in Paradise, on land near the church provided by the patron. It was sold c. 1970. (fn. 205) A third benefice house built nearby was used for the livings united in 1978. (fn. 206)
Six of the eight vicars between 1851 and 1967 were graduates; one remained thirty years, two for over twenty. (fn. 207) Coalbrookdale was held in plurality with Little Wenlock and Buildwas 1968- 77. (fn. 208)
The church has an exceptionally large collection of Victorian and modern silver. Mrs. Alfred Darby, the founder's sister-in-law, gave a silvergilt chalice (Augsburg c. 1700) formerly belonging to the Swabian charterhouse of Buxheim; there is a German cruet tray of the same date and a paten (London 1849) made to match the chalice. (fn. 209)
About 1880 the church, accommodating 850, was said to be generally well filled. Communion was monthly, with c. 60 communicants, and on the 'usual' festivals. (fn. 210) In 1871 Edward Edwards left £50 a year towards the expenses of public worship after any necessary repairs to his tombstone; the legacy was conditional on the restoration of the parish clerk to his position in the church and its services, (fn. 211) and a clerk was still being appointed at the end of the century. (fn. 212) The pew renters met briefly before the annual vestry to authorize the spending of Edwards's legacy. (fn. 213) A church hall was built at Dale End in 1901. (fn. 214)
The church, built of local stone in the Decorated style to a design of Reeves & Voysey, consists of chancel and nave of eight bays, north and south aisles, west porch, and embattled west tower; (fn. 215) it is orientated south-east. (fn. 216) Corbel heads in the nave arcading are said to represent members of the Darby family. A south aisle window contains a 16th-century Flemish depiction of the Last Supper, the gift of Mrs. Henry Whitmore (née Darby). The centre-aisle ends of the low box pews are finished with high poppy heads, perhaps late 19th-century. One of the county's principal rings, of eight bells (1852), was given to the church by Abraham Darby (IV); in 1925 two trebles were added in memory of Maurice Darby, killed in action in 1915. (fn. 217) In 1931 the sanctuary and chancel were refurnished and decorated in his memory to designs by H. S. Goodhart-Rendel, restored in 1971. The south aisle's east end, formerly a Lady chapel, contained the organ 1906-31 and became a choir vestry in 1950. (fn. 218) Memorials include tablets to members of the Fox family, including A. C. Fox-Davies. (fn. 219)
The registers begin in 1851 (baptisms) and 1854 (marriages and burials) and are complete. The churchyard was enlarged in 1923 and 1931. (fn. 220)