A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1963.
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The ecclesiastical history of Newcastle exhibits two peculiarities. First, though the borough rapidly developed into an important town as compared with the surrounding Pottery villages, its church from the mid-13th century until the beginning of the 19th was a chapel dependent upon the church of Stoke-upon-Trent. Secondly, from an early period the borough council exercised a measure of control over its affairs which became practically exclusive during the 17th century.
A chapel at Newcastle is first mentioned in an agreement made between 1175 and 1182 which terminated a long-standing dispute. (fn. 1) This agreement shows that before that time Trentham Priory had owned the chapels of Newcastle and Whitmore but had given them to Robert de Costentin. Later Robert shared his interest in Newcastle chapel with Vivian, the Rector of Stoke. (fn. 2) By the agreement Robert and Vivian surrendered their interest to the priory and Vivian received in exchange a life estate in Whitmore chapel. The next reference to the chapel of Newcastle, in 1297, (fn. 3) shows that by that date it was subordinate to Stoke, for in the inquisition taken in that year on the death of Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, the church of Stoke with Newcastle and other chapels was described as being in his gift. Newcastle remained a chapelry dependent on the church of Stoke until 1807 when a separate parish was constituted and a rectory established. (fn. 4)
The appointment of the chaplain or curate of Newcastle remained with the Rector of Stoke-uponTrent, except during the 17th century when the borough council assumed the right to choose their 'minister'. When the rectory of Newcastle was constituted in 1807 the Rector of Stoke retained the right of patronage, but in 1815 the advowson was acquired by the Revd. Charles Simeon, whose trustees still (1959) own it. (fn. 5) In 1816 the Revd. Clement Leigh, who, since 1803, had been perpetual curate of Newcastle, (fn. 6) resigned his curacy and was forthwith presented to the living as rector. (fn. 7)
The first appointment of a minister by the borough council was in 1647 when 'the Company [i.e. the borough council] having received sufficient testimonies (and some of them having experience) of the abilities and faithfulness of Mr. Crofton in the ministry of the gospel', chose him as minister. (fn. 8) Thereafter, during the Interregnum and even until the end of the century, the borough council continued to appoint the incumbent and to be responsible, in part at least, for the payment of his salary. (fn. 9)
Nothing is known about the maintenance of the curate of Newcastle or the source of his emoluments until 1601, and the silence of the minute book on this point may imply that the borough council did not concern itself in the matter before that date. In 1601, however, the council agreed that 'our preacher' should be paid £26 13s. 4d. yearly, (fn. 10) £10 13s. 4d. from the town rents and from the fees due from the bellman, (fn. 11) the balance of £16 being represented by tithe. (fn. 12) In 1615 the council agreed to pay the minister £4 yearly 'to be gathered by the churchwardens', and in the following year four assessors were chosen to levy the sum. (fn. 13) Apparently the townspeople objected to the rate and in 1618, the stipend having fallen into arrear, the bellman was instructed to pay the minister, (fn. 14) presumably out of the toll corn. (fn. 15) In 1624 the minister's stipend, referred to as a gratuity, was suspended for over a year because he had criticized the government of the town. (fn. 16)
In 1647 the minister received £60 yearly and a rent-free house which he was to keep in repair. (fn. 17) In 1648 the hay tithe was collected by the town towards making up the stipend (fn. 18) and the borough council also settled what should be paid for the corn, oats, and barley tithes by tenants of the glebe land in Stubbs Field. (fn. 19) These tithes were apparently to be paid to the town on that occasion and it was laid down that subsequently the minister was to supervise the tithe himself. (fn. 20)
In 1649 it was decided to pay £20 due to the town in respect of toll corn and the town rent to the minister, Joseph Sond, the remainder of his stipend to be found from the hay and small tithes and a collection by way of benevolence from the inhabitants. (fn. 21) These arrangements were temporary pending the receipt of an augmentation. An augmentation of £64 had been granted in respect of his predecessor as from 30 September 1648 but was not authorized for Sond until 6 January 1650. (fn. 22) The minister appointed in 1654 received £60 yearly and a rent-free house (fn. 23) and in addition, in the following year, 'the fees belonging to the church'. (fn. 24) Furthermore, in 1657, he was granted an augmentation of £50 on the recommendation of the Trustees for the Maintenance of Ministers. (fn. 25)
The relatively generous financial provision made during the Interregnum did not continue. After the Restoration the rents of certain corporation premises were applied to the relief of the poor and the maintenance of the minister. The amount allotted to the latter was £20 yearly, but c. 1709 'on some disobligation' the stipend to the minister was held back. (fn. 26) Nevertheless, though in the early 18th century the corporation ceased to make a regular contribution to the curate's stipend, in 1713, 1714, and 1716 £20, charged on the profits of the toll corn, was in fact paid to him. (fn. 27) In 1718, however, the corporation informed the bishop that they were not in a position, for financial reasons, to pay at that time £20 yearly to the curate, (fn. 28) and the payment seems never to have been resumed.
In the later 17th century efforts made from time to time by the rectors of Stoke to assert their rights in Newcastle contributed to the financial insecurity of the curate. In 1684 the borough council allowed the minister a small sum representing the tithes of Lent corn for 12 day-works in Stubbs Field which had been collected by the Rector of Stoke. (fn. 29) When the rector died in 1692 (fn. 30) his successor demanded of the Newcastle curate £12 as first fruits; the borough council intervened in the dispute and offered to pay half the sum involved, leaving the minister to pay the other half. (fn. 31) Again, in 1705, another rector attempted to replace Egerton Harding, the then curate, by his own nominee, (fn. 32) but this attempt evidently failed as Harding remained curate until his death in 1717. (fn. 33)
During the 18th century the emoluments of the Newcastle curacy seem to have comprised (fn. 34) (a) tithes within the township and chapelry of Newcastle, Easter dues, and surplice fees; (b) a yearly modus in lieu of the tithe hay, namely 1s. 6d. in the winter fields and 1s. in the summer fields for every daywork (fn. 35) of land mown, all inclosures that were mown being charged with a modus according to the quantity; (c) the glebe, the Parson's Flat in Stubbs Field, consisting of 10 day-works of land; (fn. 36) and (d) the parsonage house. (fn. 37) In addition, there was in 1705 (fn. 38) another house of the yearly value of 30s., the gift of Edward Orme (d. 1705). (fn. 39)
At the beginning of the 19th century the income of the curacy was described as small and insufficient, (fn. 40) and by the Act of 1807 the revenues of the living were at last established on a firm basis, (fn. 41) comprising the great and small tithes within the township of Newcastle, the glebe lands, Easter dues, surplice fees, donations, and pensions. Also the Rector of Stoke was required to pay to the Rector of Newcastle a yearly sum of £108 or, at the option of the latter, the value of 227 bushels of wheat based on the average price a bushel throughout the county in the preceding year. (fn. 42) In 1844 this rent-charge, then represented by £105 15s., was still being paid. (fn. 43)
The extensive inclosure of 1816, involving the greater part of the common fields, provided for the extinguishment of the tithe thereon after the allotments had been made and for appropriate compensation to be made to the Rector of Newcastle. (fn. 44) The yearly payment to the incumbent was to be on the basis of one-fifth of a quarter of the total annual value (this quarter representing the arable portion of the land inclosed) and of one-eighth of the remaining three-quarters of the annual value. (fn. 45) Provision was made for the variation of the rent-charge every seven years, according to the average price of wheat. (fn. 46)
The gross annual income of the benefice for the period 1828–31 was £352 (£285 net). (fn. 47) In 1841 the tithe on the remainder of the tithable acreage amounting to 140½ acres, inclusive of the glebe, was commuted for a yearly rent-charge of £81. (fn. 48) This sum was still being paid to the incumbent in 1887. (fn. 49)
In 1940 the living of St. Thomas, Butterton, in the parish of Stoke-upon-Trent, 3½ miles from Newcastle, was united to that of St. Giles, Newcastle. (fn. 50)
The earliest chantry was established in honour of St. Katherine in 1318 by William Swanild, (fn. 51) a Newcastle merchant, (fn. 52) who endowed it with five houses and a yearly rent of 14d. in Newcastle, for the maintenance of a priest to serve daily at the altar of St. Katherine. (fn. 53) At that time the houses were worth £2 13s. 4d. yearly. (fn. 54) The patronage was at first retained by the Swanild family, (fn. 55) but by 1360 was in the hands of Richard de Routhesleye, who still held it in 1369. (fn. 56) By 1395 it had passed to Henry de Swerkeston, (fn. 57) a member of the guild merchant. (fn. 58)
In the late 15th century the endowments of the chantry seem to have been acquired by the town council, for in 1476 the mayor, the Twenty-four, and the community agreed to an exchange with Trentham Priory surrendering inter alia land that a Thomas Samfeld had given to the 'divine service of St. Katherine' for two crofts near Friars' Wood and two other 'hays' called Androeshayes. (fn. 59) In 1546 the yearly rent was said to be £3 11s. 6d. and it was erroneously stated that the chantry had been founded by the mayor and brethren of Newcastle. (fn. 60) From the dissolution of the chantry in 1548 until c. 1561 John Fenton, the last chantry priest, received the yearly revenue as his pension. (fn. 61) Later in Elizabeth I's reign the chantry lands were held in fee-farm by Edward Thickness, but in 1598 they were leased to Edmund Page for 21 years. (fn. 62) In 1608 the chantry property was being farmed by Robert Oliver and Robert Thomlynson, (fn. 63) and in 1610 by Thomas Marbury and Richard Cartwright for £3 11s. 4d., (fn. 64) and it was at sixteen years' purchase of this figure that in 1677 a contract of sale of the chantry lands was entered into with John Chase. (fn. 65) In 1647 it was stated that a burgage called the 'Eagle and Child', an orchard on the east side of Church Lane, and a croft in Clayton Field near a pasture called Frerewood had formerly belonged to the chantry. (fn. 66)
The date of the foundation of the chantry of St. Mary is not known, but in 1385 the borough minutes record the election by the Twenty-four of a priest to celebrate mass at its altar, for which he was to receive a jar (amphora) of wine in addition to his salary from the rent of the chantry lands. (fn. 67) In 1392 the chantry was endowed with 12 houses, 6 tofts, 2 acres of land, and 10s. rent in Newcastle. (fn. 68) The tolls and profits arising out of St. Leonard's Fair also belonged to it, and in 1556 were granted to the Hospital of the Savoy. (fn. 69) In 1620 they were stated to be worth 3s. 4d. yearly. (fn. 70)
During Elizabeth I's reign the chantry lands were let to Edward Thickness and subsequently, in 1598, to Edmund Page (fn. 71) at a rent stated to be £4 17s. 3d. in 1608, (fn. 72) when Philip Ghent and Richard Moore farmed them in fee. (fn. 73) In 1677 this rent was entered at £5 16s. 7d., this being the figure, at sixteen years' purchase, at which a contract of sale was made with John Chase. (fn. 74)
Of the third chantry, that of Holy Trinity, even less is known. Some time in the period 1538–44 the mayor and one of the bailiffs were sued by John Heywood of Stonnylowe, grandson and heir of John Parker, for false imprisonment and expulsion from a house and garden in Newcastle, which the defendants claimed to have been the subject of a bequest to maintain a priest for the service of the Holy Trinity. (fn. 75)
Another chantry, although not so described, seems to have been attached to the altar of St. Sunday (fn. 76) by the end of the 15th century. In 1493 four persons were appointed by the borough council to supervise St. Sunday's 'cote to be kept in the road seller (fn. 77) with the oversight of the priest that sings before Saint Sunday'; the overseers were to be changed yearly, and they were to take charge of one key while the priest retained the other. (fn. 78) In the church of that time there were two chancels or chapels, one dedicated to Our Lady and the other to St. Sunday. (fn. 79) In the 16th century the latter seems to have been the name sometimes given to the church itself, which can be the only explanation of Leland's remark when he visited Newcastle in 1541 that 'the town useth to come to a chapel of St. Sunday by the castle'. (fn. 80) The name survives in Sunday Wells situated below the church in Lower Street near the paper mill.
The control exercised by the borough over matters of church administration is exemplified in the appointment by the council over a long period of the churchwardens (or more correctly chapel-wardens) of Newcastle. The two custodes corporis ecclesie ville elected in 1376–7 (fn. 81) and the two supervisors of the church and receivers of money collected in church appointed in 1407–8 (fn. 82) may have been churchwardens. In 1490, however, John Leighton and William Coldall were elected gardiani ecclesie by the borough council (fn. 83) and in the following year they presented their account to the mayor, bailiffs, and their brethren, being then styled prepositi ecclesie. On the same occasion other churchwardens rendered their account and it may be assumed that they had acted in the years immediately preceding 1490 and that the submission of their accounts had fallen into arrear. (fn. 84)
Throughout the Tudor and Stuart periods these officers, often called church reeves and occasionally editui, were elected by the borough council. Light is thrown upon their subordination to the borough authorities and on the nature of their duties by their oath of office. Its terms as set down in 1596 (fn. 85) required them to 'be at your mayor's commandment in all causes lawful . . . take regard to the good orders and behaviour within the church, collect and gather such sums of money as shall be due to be paid for burials within the church, and of the same make a true account'. Although not specifically mentioned, one of their principal duties was to ensure the maintenance of the church fabric and to this end to collect the rates, or 'lunes' as they are called, authorized fairly regularly by the borough council for the repair of the church from the beginning of the 17th century onwards; in 1630, for example, the minutes record the council's agreement that the churchwardens cause a lune of 20 nobles to be levied for the repair of the church. (fn. 86) After 1707 the appointment of churchwardens by the council ceased, (fn. 87) and thereafter presumably these officers were elected by the vestry.
The church clerk or sexton was also appointed by the borough council. In 1510–11 Edward Storrop was elected clericus pro ecclesia. (fn. 88) From the middle of the 17th to the middle of the 18th century the borough council minutes record appointments to the office of church clerk and the arrangements made for his salary. As late as 1745 the parish clerk was still the employee of the borough council, which in that year withdrew his salary and instead gave him the 'benefit of the bells and buryings' and £2 yearly for looking after the chimes and clock. (fn. 89) In 1834, a dispute having arisen whether the rector, the corporation, or the parishioners had the right to appoint the parish clerk, the matter was referred to counsel who was of the opinion that, despite the ancient practice, the right of appointment was vested in the rector. (fn. 90)
Early in the 17th century Puritan leanings can be detected among the parishioners. (fn. 91) For example, in 1628 the council decreed that the church bells were not to be rung without the consent of the mayor or his deputy, except for prayers and burials, and that sparingly. (fn. 92) Arthur Storer, the minister in 1601–2, is described as a preacher (fn. 93) and one of the sixteen preachers in the whole of Staffordshire. (fn. 94) He was followed by another preacher of the name of Marsh in 1604 (fn. 95) but the period of his incumbency is unknown, the next name being that of Nicholas Richardson (1615–46). (fn. 96) During the Civil War and Interregnum Newcastle was served by Presbyterian ministers, whose relations with the borough council were not, however, always amicable. (fn. 97)
At the Restoration Newcastle was without a minister, the previous incumbent, Ralph Hall, having departed in 1659 after a dispute with the borough council. (fn. 98) After a brief incursion by George Long, a man of strong nonconformist views, c. 1659–62, (fn. 99) the borough council in 1663 (fn. 100) appointed Thomas Oulton who, save for an interruption of three years (1685–7) held the living until 1698. (fn. 101) His ejection in 1685, however, was probably for political, not religious, reasons connected with the overthow of the old council. (fn. 102) On its return to power in 1688 Oulton was reinstated. (fn. 103) During his incumbency the church in Newcastle seems to have been in a strong position, for in 1676 it was recorded that there were 1,000 conformists in the town, only 5 dissenters, and no papists. (fn. 104)
The appointment of Egerton Harding in 1698 witnessed an attempt to raise the spiritual and moral life of Newcastle and its neighbourhood. He was a local correspondent of the newly established S.P.C.K. and he reported in 1700 that he, with about sixteen of the neighbouring clergy, held a monthly lecture in Newcastle for suppressing immorality and profaneness and that the magistrates and gentry had promised their constant attendance. (fn. 105) This promise seems to have been fulfilled, for in the following year Harding reported that there was a 'visible increase of piety and morality amongst them'. (fn. 106) At the same time he stated that there was a well-stocked library, (fn. 107) that the poor were well inclined, and that they attended the sacraments, which were administered monthly. (fn. 108) It is not known for how long or to what extent the religious fervour initiated by Harding was maintained, as his later correspondence with the S.P.C.K. cannot be traced.
The acquisition of the advowson in 1815 by Charles Simeon (fn. 109) ensured adherence to the evangelical principles upheld by him. In 1854, as in Harding's day, Communion was celebrated on the first Sunday in each month after morning service, and in 1856, and subsequently until 1873, after evening service as well. From 1855 to 1860 there was, in addition, a monthly early morning communion during the summer quarter. (fn. 110) In 1874 there were four celebrations monthly, on the first Sunday in the morning, on the second Sunday in the afternoon, on the third Sunday in the evening, and on the fourth Sunday at 8.30 a.m. In 1877 the early morning celebration was discontinued and the thrice-monthly celebration continued until at least 1882. (fn. 111) At the present time (1959) there are an early celebration every Sunday, a morning celebration on the first Sunday of the month, and an evening one on the last Sunday of the month. (fn. 112)
When the official ecclesiastical census was taken on 30 March 1851, for some unknown reason no services were held in the parish church and so no attendance figures were given. (fn. 113) Thirty years later an unofficial census conducted by a local newspaper on Sunday, 18 December 1881, disclosed attendances of 376 at the morning and 586 at the evening service. (fn. 114)
Little is known architecturally of the church that stood on the hilly ground to the east of the castle. The whole of it, except its massive western tower, was removed in 1720–1 when a new church was built. The discovery in 1873, when foundations were being excavated for a second rebuilding, of a section of zigzag moulding suggests a church originally of late-12th-century date. (fn. 115) The pre-18th-century church had a chancel (fn. 116) and at least a north aisle. (fn. 117) In 1678–9 the corporation agreed to spend £90 on erecting a loft and library at the west end of the church. (fn. 118) During the whole of the 17th century the corporation was authorizing, almost annually, the levying of lunes for the repair of the church. Despite this deterioration of the fabric continued, so much so that in 1685 the corporation decided to present a petition for a brief for its repair. (fn. 119) In 1715 damage to the church, which may have resulted in part from the riot in that year, (fn. 120) amounted to more than £3,115, (fn. 121) the amount for which a brief was then issued. (fn. 122)
It is not surprising, therefore, that, on application made, a faculty was granted in 1719 for the old church to be taken down and for the erection of a new one, which was to have galleries on its north and south sides. (fn. 123) A contract was entered into between the corporation and William Smith to build a new church and chancel according to 'a model on draught' (fn. 124) for £1,366. (fn. 125) About £700 was subscribed, briefs brought in about £500, and the sale of pews about £200. (fn. 126) The expenditure included £6 13s. 8d. for an entertainment at 'the covering of the church', (fn. 127) and £8 12s. for an ironwork canopy over the mayor's pew. (fn. 128) Although under the faculty the old church was to be removed in its entirety, local sentiment presumably secured the preservation of the tower. The new church, with seating accommodation for 892 persons, was opened for service on 5 November 1721. (fn. 129) Described by a local historian in 1908 (fn. 130) as 'a hideous brick monstrosity' the church nevertheless seems to have been a good example of the early Georgian period. (fn. 131) The building was of brick with stone dressings and consisted of a nave of four bays and an apsidal chancel. The round-headed windows were flanked by stone pilasters and had stone archivolts with projecting imposts and key blocks. Above them, probably to light the galleries, were circular windows with tall keystones reaching to a panelled parapet. Internally the apse was fitted with dado panelling, while between the windows were boards inscribed with the Ten Commandments. (fn. 132) There were fine wrought-iron gates at the east end of the churchyard. (fn. 133)
By 1872 (fn. 134) the church was dilapidated and no doubt inadequate to the needs of an enlarged population. It was, therefore, demolished except for the tower, and a new church, designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, was completed in 1876. (fn. 135)
The present church of ST. GILES consists of an aisled and clerestoried nave, an aisled chancel, north and south porches, and a medieval west tower. The tower, which is 110 ft. high and built of red sandstone, still remains its dominant feature and is a notable landmark. In 1840 it was reported to need repair at an estimated cost of £80. (fn. 136) In 1894, (fn. 137) the stonework having deteriorated, it was entirely refaced, at the cost of Francis Stanier, so that the external details now show little sign of antiquity. The tower rises in four stages and has double buttresses for its full height at the two western angles. Owing to the fall in the ground the floor of the lowest stage is below that of the nave and is approached from the latter by four steps under the tower arch. The walls of this stage are 7 ft. thick, pierced on the west and south by lancet windows. These and the heavily moulded tower arch are typical 13th-century features. The west doorway has been rebuilt in the same style. An internal north doorway, now blocked, originally gave access to the stair turret at the north-west angle of the tower. The tall second stage, containing the ringing chamber, is lighted by two tiers of small lancets with trefoil heads, the upper ones having ogee arches, indicating that this work belongs to the 14th century. The third stage, or clock chamber, has two-light windows with tracery of the later 14th century. The ancient timber strutting supporting the bell frame is brought down to rest on these window sills. The highest stage, or belfry, is strengthened at the angles by internal piers of masonry, possibly to give support to a projected spire. The windows, of two and three lights, are of 15th-century character, as also is the embattled parapet with crocketted pinnacles at the angles. (fn. 138) Before the 19th-century restoration there were intermediate pinnacles on each face of the tower. (fn. 139)
The body of the church, dating from 1876, is built of Blythe Marsh stone and is in the style of the late 13th century. The windows contain Geometrical tracery and the clerestory windows are alternately pointed and circular. The interior is faced with Bath stone with the darker Blythe Marsh stone (fn. 140) used sparingly to give contrast. The nave arcades of six bays have alternate circular and octagonal piers, the hoodmoulds and the 'stiff-leaved' capitals being of Blythe Marsh stone. The same stone is used for the sedilia in the chancel and for the quatrefoil piers which divide the chancel from a chapel on the north side and an organ chamber on the south. The chancel projects beyond its aisles and has a large seven-light east window filled with Geometrical tracery. The extreme length of the 19th-century church from the east face of the tower to the buttresses at the east end is 150 ft., the width is 75 ft., and the height 64½ ft. (fn. 141)
The marble font, surmounted by a detachable moulded and heraldic cover, and given to the old church in 1733 by Samuel Bagnall, has been superseded by a more elaborate modern one (fn. 142) presented by Joseph Griffith in 1899. (fn. 143) Another relic of the old church survives in a fine representation in carved oak of the pelican in her piety, formerly a roof ornament over the altar, but now adapted as a lectern. (fn. 144) The old communion table, having been disposed of as rubbish, was subsequently recovered and is now used as a credence table. (fn. 145) At the south end of the nave against the east wall of the tower is a stone recumbent figure, clothed in a long robe, the left hand thought to be holding a sword and the right clasping a glove; it was discovered in 1848. (fn. 146)
The mural tablets are few. When the 18thcentury church was pulled down, they were stored away in a chamber covered by a mound in the northern part of the churchyard. When in 1894 (fn. 147) the tower was restored, the tablets of three former incumbents, Edward Orme (d. 1705), Robert Fenton (d. 1760), and Clement Leigh (d. 1853), and that of Thomas Sparrow (d. 1827), a former town clerk, were restored to the church. (fn. 148) The first three are now on the walls of the chancel and that of Sparrow in the tower. Of the remaining tablets the most noteworthy is that on the wall of the north aisle to John Bourne (d. 1764), the inscription thereon testifying that 'his zeal for the advancement of religion appeared from several new chapels erected and endowed in this neighbourhood chiefly at his expense'. There are also memorials to John Ford (d. 1753), William Kinnersley (d. 1788), and William Beard (d. 1789), a chief justice in Wales.
Under a Scheme of 1896 two-thirds of the yearly income of Sir Walter Wagstaff Bagot's charity was allotted for the repair and maintenance of the parish church. (fn. 149) In 1955 the charity was represented by an investment of £207 (fn. 150) and in 1959 an income of £9 was still being received therefrom. (fn. 151) By the will of John Thomas Cooke of Newcastle (proved 1920) the income from an investment of £100 was to be applied for the maintenance of the fabric (fn. 152) and is still (1959) so paid. (fn. 153) By the will of Robert Cadwallader Trigger of Newcastle (proved 1927) the income from an investment of £250 was to be applied for the upkeep of the church fabric (fn. 154) and the income therefrom, £9, is still being paid. (fn. 155)
In 1553 the plate consisted of a silver chalice with paten; two brass candlesticks had been sold by Richard Morton the late churchwarden. (fn. 156) In 1558 there were two chalices and two patens. (fn. 157) The plate now (1959) consists of a silver chalice and a paten presented by Thomas Lynnis in thankfulness, as the inscription records, 'for his prosperous voyage and safe return from the East Indies, 19 October 1629'; a silver chalice with cover, a silver salver, and a silver paten, all inscribed as being the gift in 1680 of William Leveson-Gower to the corporation in token of his having been thrice elected to be one of their burgesses in Parliament; and a silver flagon and lid, the gift of Mrs. Alice Fenton, 1757. There is also a modern silver chalice. (fn. 158) The design of the LevesonGower chalice resembles closely that of the earlier Lynnis one. Although all the old plate is now correctly described as silver it seems from inspection that the vessels were originally silver gilt.
In 1553 there were four bells. (fn. 159) There seem to have been five in 1628 (fn. 160) and they certainly numbered five in 1665. (fn. 161) In 1732 they were recast by Abraham Rudhall, the Gloucester bell-founder, as eight (fn. 162) and this is the present number. They were rehung in 1894. (fn. 163)
A church clock is mentioned in 1589 (fn. 164) and by 1664 there were chimes as well. (fn. 165) In 1888 a new clock was provided and the chimes were restored, (fn. 166) while in 1894 the clock was supplied with two new dials. (fn. 167)
The registers begin in 1563 and the entries from that date to 1770 have been printed. (fn. 168) The first register covers the period 1563 to 1620, and the second 1628 to 1653; there is also a gap in the second volume for the period 29 January 1631/2 to 28 October 1633.
Although the church was not parochial until 1807, a graveyard existed before 1800 for land was then provided for its enlargement. (fn. 169) It was again enlarged in 1835. (fn. 170) It was ordered to be closed in 1851 (fn. 171) but the order does not seem to have been fully complied with, for a further order, to take effect in 1865, was subsequently issued. (fn. 172)
In 1898 the churchyard was further enlarged to provide space for levelling the mounds which contained human remains, and which had been piled up around the new church when its foundations were being excavated in 1873. It was said that the mounds, besides being unsightly, interfered with the view of the tower from the neighbouring streets. (fn. 173) In the large mound on the north side of the churchyard a bricked chamber was built in 1874 in which to store mural tablets from the old church, but in 1912 some of them were moved to the present church. (fn. 174)
The ministers appointed in 1647 and 1654 were provided with a rent-free house in addition to their stipends. (fn. 175) In 1698 Sir John Leveson-Gower granted a plot of land at the east end of the Ironmarket in trust for the benefit of the then curate of Newcastle and his successors. (fn. 176) The erection thereon of a house and barn seems to have owed much to Bishop Lloyd, whose position as Lord Almoner apparently made it possible for him to contribute towards the cost. (fn. 177) His translation from Lichfield to Worcester in 1699 (fn. 178) and removal from the office of Lord Almoner put an end to his interest in the parsonage house, on which, in 1703, there still remained a debt of £160. (fn. 179) The first tenant of the house, to which was attached an extensive garden, was Egerton Harding (d. 1717). In 1854 the house, by then known as the rectory and Glebe House, was extended and enlarged by the addition of a story (fn. 180) by the rector. (fn. 181) In 1910 it was completely restored. (fn. 182)
In 1895 the National schools were built on a part of the adjoining glebe land, while another part, in 1897, was converted into the Queen's Gardens. (fn. 183) The land next to the rectory was sold in 1910 and used as a site for a new post office. (fn. 184)
In 1926 (fn. 185) the rectory and site were sold and the buildings, now consisting of three shops on the ground floor with the Rectory Chambers above, appear to have been entirely reconstructed. Datestones of 1698 (with initials e.h. for Egerton Harding) and of 1854 have been incorporated in the front elevation. Since 1934 the rectory has been situated in Seabridge Road. (fn. 186)
A church or chapel dedicated to St. Mary at one time existed to the west of the Castle Pool. It is first mentioned in 1297 when it was described as being by the pool (vivarium) of Newcastle, and in the gift of Edmund, Earl of Lancaster. (fn. 187) There is no information about the date of its foundation, but it may be assumed that its primary purpose was to serve the needs of the garrison and thus it may have been erected soon after the castle was built. The exact site is not known. The chapel was apparently still in existence in 1544 when an undertaking was given to repair a highway from St. Mary's Church to Deans Bridge, (fn. 188) but in 1608 it was referred to as the late church, called St. Mary's Church beyond the water. (fn. 189) In depositions taken in 1667 in a mill dispute the question was asked whether there was once a church beyond the mills called St. Mary's Church, to which no answer seems to have been returned, but the terms of the question suggest that the building lay to the west of the pool, possibly in the Higherland. (fn. 190)
In 1501 Nicholas Lovat, who was one of its churchor chapel-wardens in 1498, endowed it with a small annual rent issuing from a meadow in Clayton. (fn. 191) A plot of land to the north-east of the Castle Pool was known as St. Mary's Flat at least until the middle of the 19th century, and this was probably part of the endowment of St. Mary's Church. (fn. 192) A town rental of 1608 included a tenement in the Ironmarket, once called the Iron Hall, which had formerly belonged to 'the service of Our Lady beyond the water', (fn. 193) and a tenement beyond the water and a barn and garden in Merrial Street, also once the property of St. Mary's. (fn. 194)
It was reported in the time of Mary and Eliza beth I that there had once been in the chapel a chantry dedicated to St. Mary endowed with a rent of £1 7s. 7d. The last chantry priest received this amount as a pension from 1548 until 1566 or later. (fn. 195) In 1677 the rent was stated to be £1 2s. 7d. at which figure, at sixteen years' purchase, a contract of sale was entered into with John Chase. (fn. 196)
By 1888 a Mission Room attached to the parish church had been established, (fn. 197) but it seems to have existed for a short time only. By 1891 the Mission Rooms attached to St. Giles's were stated to be Stubbs Gate and Friars' Wood. (fn. 198) During the First World War Stubbs Gate ceased to be used as a Mission Room. (fn. 199) Friars' Wood was closed in 1940. (fn. 200) It was a small iron church in Friarswood Road and is now (1960) used as part of the adjoining school. In 1938 St. Andrew's Mission Church was established in Westlands, (fn. 201) where a new housing estate had been built. In 1955 the area served by the church became a conventional district. Thus St. Andrew's ceased to be a mission church. (fn. 202) The mission church of St. James in Clayton originated in a mission centre at Clayton school 1951–4. (fn. 203)
The growth of population in the early 19th century led to a demand for an additional church, and in 1820 the corporation approached the commissioners for building churches for a building grant and offered to provide a free site. The corporation also undertook to build a parsonage near the church, on condition that the right of presentation was vested in them. (fn. 204) The proposed condition was evidently unacceptable, for in 1824 the corporation informed the Rector of Newcastle that they were prepared to agree to the vesting of the right of presentation in the bishop and in that event would subscribe £500 to the new church. (fn. 205) This proposal, too, seems to have been refused and in the following year the corporation agreed to subscribe £500 unconditionally. (fn. 206) At the same time they again expressed their view, on this occasion to the Revd. C. Simeon, the patron of St. Giles's, that the patronage of the living should be in the hands of the bishop, and that a public meeting had been of the same opinion. (fn. 207)
In 1844 St. George's was constituted a chapelry district and to it was assigned the northernmost and easternmost part of the parish of Newcastle. (fn. 210) By the New Parishes Act of 1856 (fn. 211) it received full parochial status and the incumbent became a vicar; previously he had been a curate under the Rector of Newcastle, who now became patron of the living. In 1875 a part of St. George's parish to the west and southwest was re-annexed to the parish of St. Giles. (fn. 212)
In 1832 the corporation granted £140 towards the erection of a parsonage, (fn. 213) but it is doubtful whether one was then built. By 1872 there was a vicarage house in Sidmouth Avenue, (fn. 214) and in the same year the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, having received a benefaction of £518 7s. in favour of the vicarage, supplemented it with £519 out of their common fund towards the cost of providing a vicarage. (fn. 215)
In 1841 the glebe consisted of an acre of meadow known as Church Croft, subject to a yearly rentcharge of 11s. payable to the Rector of Newcastle. (fn. 216) By 1887 there was no glebe. (fn. 217) At the outset the income of the incumbent was small, the net income in 1831 being £98 (£108 gross). (fn. 218) Grants were made from Queen Anne's Bounty in 1832 (£400) and 1836 (£200). (fn. 219) In 1878 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners endowed the living with £76 yearly out of their common fund. (fn. 220)
The church of ST. GEORGE occupies a commanding position on the upper slope of The Brampton. It was designed by Francis Bedford (1784–1858) in the Perpendicular style and is built of Chapel Chorlton stone. (fn. 221) It consists of an aisled nave, a chancel flanked by a north organ chamber and a south vestry, south and north-west porches, and a west tower. The tower, which has an unusually tall belfry stage lighted by Perpendicular windows, is surmounted by a pierced and embattled parapet with pinnacles, 14 ft. high, at the angles. The base of the tower forms an entrance lobby with a vestry on each side of it. Externally the nave has tall Perpendicular windows, alternating with pinnacled buttresses. Inside the church the lofty nave arcades consist of slender shafts supporting four-centred arches. Both nave and aisles have plaster vaulting with bosses at the intersection of the ribs. Originally the nave was of five bays, the chancel being formed by a shallow projection at its east end.
In 1851 the average attendance was stated to be, at the morning service, 260 with 200 Sunday school children and, in the afternoon, 450 with 600 Sunday school children. No service was held in the evening. (fn. 222)
In 1879–81 extensive alterations were made to the church. A desire to enlarge the chancel could not be met by building outwards, owing to the proximity of Queen Street. The problem was therefore solved by including the easternmost bay of the nave in the chancel and at the same time raising the floor by two steps. The corresponding bays of the aisles were converted into an organ chamber on the north side and a chapel on the south. The organ was previously in the west gallery which had originally projected into the nave; there had also been a children's gallery. Both were removed and a light gallery, extending only over the west lobby and the vestries, was substituted. High pews were replaced by benches of pitch pine. A reredos of mosaic, inlaid in alabaster, and a new east window with Geometrical tracery were inserted in the chancel. (fn. 223) As a result of the alterations the seating accommodation appears to have been reduced. This was stated to be 884 (fn. 224) at the end of 1881 and on 18 December in that year attendance at morning service was 356 and at evening service 338. (fn. 225)
In 1887 a new bell was installed and in 1908 the chancel was extended eastwards as far as was geographically possible, (fn. 226) and new windows were inserted in its north and south walls. To commemorate the centenary of the church in 1928 a north-west porch was added. (fn. 227)
A new font, the gift of the Sunday schools, had been installed in 1881, but in 1950 this was replaced by an octagonal marble font of modern design in memory of A. E. Wenger. It provides a striking feature of the present interior, occupying the most westerly bay of the nave and having a carved oak cover, 20 ft. high, in the form of a spire.
In 1851 part of the churchyard was used as a burial ground, but the greater portion was fenced off and let as a field. (fn. 228) The burial ground was ordered to be closed as from 1 March 1865, (fn. 229) but closure was later postponed to 30 June 1866. (fn. 230) In 1886 the churchyard was levelled and a boundary wall and entrance gate were built. (fn. 231)
In 1841 the corporation granted the minister of St. George's the use of the dining room in the former workhouse for the purpose of a weekly lecture as well as for a Sunday school. (fn. 232) By 1877 a mission church had been established in St. George's School Room. (fn. 233) It was still in use in 1952 (fn. 234) but in 1960 the building was sold. (fn. 235) Mount Pleasant Mission Room was constituted in 1881 (fn. 236) but by 1887 it had apparently ceased to be used for that purpose. (fn. 237) On 18 December 1881 the attendance there was 78 at the evening service, no service being held in the morning. (fn. 238) St. John the Evangelist's Mission Church in Liverpool Road was consecrated on 27 December 1880 (fn. 239) with accommodation for 300 persons. (fn. 240) On 18 December 1881 no morning service was held there, but the attendance at the evening service was 179. (fn. 241) The church is built of grey stone in the Early English style and consists of an undivided nave and chancel with a south-east porch. A bell turret surmounting the porch was demolished in 1959. The church is still (1960) in use. By 1887 the Iron Church (fn. 242) had been built in Victoria Road on the site now occupied by St. Paul's Church (fn. 243) and in the following year it was given that name. (fn. 244) When St. Paul's Church was built in 1905 the iron building was moved to stand beside St. George's School Room (see above) and was sold along with it in 1960. (fn. 245)
By 1900 Wilmore Row Mission Room and the Ragged School Mission had been established. (fn. 246) By 1914 the latter was known as St. George's Hall; (fn. 247) it stands on the east side of Upper Green and since 1952 has been used as a cotton waste store. (fn. 248) St. John's Mission Hall (fn. 249) adjoins St. John the Evangelist's and was built c. 1911. (fn. 250) It is still (1960) in use.
St. Paul's Church in Victoria Road was built in 1905 to serve the needs of a new ecclesiastical parish formed partly out of St. George's parish and partly out of Penkhull parish. (fn. 251) The first vicar was appointed in 1905, and the church consecrated on 29 April 1908. (fn. 252)
The church of ST. PAUL is of Hollington stone and was designed by R. Scrivener & Sons of Hanley in the Perpendicular style. It consists of a clerestoried and aisled nave, a chancel flanked by an organ chamber on the south and a vestry on the north, and a south transept containing a side chapel. A porch at the north-west angle of the church forms the base of a tall tower, surmounted by an elaborate octagonal spire with flying buttresses and two tiers of lights. The interior, providing sittings for 500, is faced with Hollington stone. The nave, of four bays, is divided from its narrow passage aisles by low four-centred arches. A projecting bay at the west end of the nave serves as a baptistery.
The cost was met by A. F. Coghill in memory of the Revd. R. Ward, Vicar of St. George's 1875–95. He also gave £3,000 to the building fund and £5,000 as an endowment fund, (fn. 253) the latter being placed with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who undertook to pay the incumbent £150 yearly. (fn. 254)
The living was endowed with 2 acres of glebe (fn. 255) known as Stubbs Lodge in Occupation Street, on which a vicarage was erected in 1920. (fn. 256) The right of presentation belonged originally to A. F. Coghill (fn. 257) and is now (1959) in the hands of trustees. (fn. 258)