A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1963.
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There was a church at Stoke by 1086, (fn. 1) and for the next seven centuries and more this remained the mother church of a large parish. That parish included Newcastle, Clayton, and Seabridge on the west, the detached Whitmore, farther west still, Burslem, Hanley, Norton-in-the-Moors, Bucknall, and Bagnall in the north, and Lane End and Fenton in the east. Originally there was no centre of population around the church: there was no township called Stoke, and as late as the mid18th century there were very few houses near the church. (fn. 2) During the Middle Ages six chapels of ease were built within the parish, all of which had cure of souls by 1563, (fn. 3) but the parish was not divided until 1807 when the surrounding chapelries were made into five rectories by an Act of Parliament. (fn. 4) The reduced parish of Stoke was further divided in the course of the next century by the creation of new parishes at Longton in 1839, Hartshill in 1842, Shelton in 1843, Penkhull in 1844, Trent Vale in 1844, Northwood, Hanley, in 1845, Wellington, Hanley, in 1845, Fenton in 1860, Hanley (St. John) in 1891, and Shelton (St. Jude) in 1895. (fn. 5) The history of only those churches and mission-centres within the borough of Stoke as it existed in 1910 will be treated in this section.
In 1086 a moiety of the church of Stoke was held by Robert de Stafford as part of his fee of Caverswall. (fn. 6) The other moiety may have been held by the king as lord of Penkhull. (fn. 7) The Stafford family's moiety subsequently passed to Walter of Caverswall who, with the consent of his overlord Robert de Stafford (II), gave it c. 1155 to Stone Priory. (fn. 8) Kenilworth Priory, the mother house of Stone, twice received confirmation of this grant from Henry II. (fn. 9) The other moiety probably passed from the Crown to the Earl of Chester with Newcastle manor (fn. 10) since in 1221 and 1222 the king and Earl Ranulf were suing the Prior of Kenilworth for his half-share as wrongfully alienated by Walter of Caverswall. (fn. 11) The prior eventually surrendered his claim to the earl in 1223 in return for land in Seabridge, (fn. 12) and both shares were thus united in the earl's hands.
The king evidently recovered the advowson of Stoke along with Newcastle manor c. 1232, and both were leased by the Crown to Gilbert de Seagrave in that year. (fn. 13) The king, however, was presenting regularly from 1235 (fn. 14) until 1266 when the advowson of Stoke was granted with Newcastle manor to Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, (fn. 15) who by 1268 had leased the advowson to Hamon Lestrange. (fn. 16) It was held by Edmund in 1293 and at his death in 1296 and descended with Newcastle manor until 1547, passing to the Duchy of Lancaster in the 14th century. (fn. 17) During this time, however, grants were sometimes made of single presentations, (fn. 18) while in 1485 Richard III gave the advowson to the abbey of St. Mary de Pré, Leicester, with licence to appropriate the church. (fn. 19) This grant, however, does not seem to have taken effect since in 1493 Henry VII presented. (fn. 20) The Duchy of Lancaster continued to make grants of single presentations (fn. 21) and finally in 1547 conveyed the advowson to Sir John Russell, Keeper of the Privy Seal, who at once granted it to Ralph Bagnall. (fn. 22) In 1562 Ralph leased it to Francis Biddulph, (fn. 23) but by 1591 it was in the hands of Sir Henry Bagnall, Marshal of Ireland and nephew of Ralph Bagnall, (fn. 24) who conveyed it in 1597 to William Crompton. (fn. 25) William's son, Thomas Crompton of Stone, sold it in 1605 to Richard Barbour (fn. 26) who in 1606 or 1607 sold it to Roger Brereton and his son Roger. (fn. 27) The Breretons, although accused of simony in 1636 over the presentation of John Mainwaring three years before, (fn. 28) retained the patronage (fn. 29) until 1656 when Ralph, a younger son of the elder Roger Brereton, sold it to Peter Birkened of London. (fn. 30) Sir James Edwards seems to have held the patronage in 1675, when he settled it on or conveyed it to a Thomas Whitley, (fn. 31) but by c. 1680 it had passed to a 'Mr. Spademan', (fn. 32) doubtless the John Spateman who in 1684 settled it on or conveyed it to Thomas Allen. (fn. 33) However, it was by a John Sidebotham that Dr. Thomas Allen was presented to Stoke rectory in 1697. (fn. 34) Dr. Allen held the patronage by 1732 when he settled both benefice and right of presentation on his son Thomas who succeeded him in the same year. (fn. 35) In 1742 the younger Thomas sold the patronage for £4,000 to James Robinson of Lichfield. (fn. 36) William Robinson presented in 1798 (fn. 37) and his widow Ruth in 1801, when William Robinson, himself patron by 1807 and presumably her son, was given the rectory. (fn. 38) His trustee Spencer Madan presented on his death in 1812 and again in 1814, (fn. 39) and in 1817 the Robinsons' trustees sold the advowson to John Tomlinson of Cliffville, a solicitor formerly of Hanley. (fn. 40) He died in 1838 and under his will and that of his son John Wickes Tomlinson, rector from 1831 (d. 1857), the patronage was vested in trustees for its sale. (fn. 41) By the efforts of John Tomlinson's grandson, Sir Lovelace Tomlinson Stamer, 3rd baronet, rector from 1858 to 1892, an Act was passed in 1889 authorizing the transfer of the advowson to the Bishop of Lichfield, the purchase price being defrayed out of the funds of the rectory. (fn. 42) The bishop remains the patron. (fn. 43)
In 1380 the absentee rector was given leave by the bishop to farm his church while he was in attendance on the Duke of Lancaster. (fn. 44) By the 15th century it had become customary for the rector to appoint a parish priest and a deacon, the latter being responsible for looking after the church. (fn. 45) Failure to appoint a deacon over a period of more than ten years was then leading to thefts from the church and disorder in the churchyard. (fn. 46) The rector evidently had one assistant 'curate' by the 16th century. (fn. 47) In 1602 the curate was paid £13 6s. 8d. from the small tithe, (fn. 48) and by 1828 his stipend was £195 a year. (fn. 49) By 1860 there were three assistant curates. (fn. 50)
There was a single churchwarden about the middle of the 15th century. (fn. 51) There were four churchwardens in 1553 (fn. 52) but before the end of the 16th century only two. (fn. 53) The number seems to have remained at two except around the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries when there seems to have been only one. (fn. 54) It was stated in 1724 that one of these was chosen for the north side of the parish, consisting of Longton and Bucknall Quarters, and one for the south side, consisting of the Quarters of Penkhull and Shelton; the churchwardens were elected in turn from each of the two quarters comprising their area. (fn. 55)
By the Reformation there were two chantries in Stoke church, one of Our Lady and one of St. Nicholas and St. Katherine. (fn. 56)
At the time of its demolition in 1830 (fn. 57) the former church of ST. PETER AD VINCULA consisted of an aisled nave, a chancel of three bays, a west tower, a south porch and a north vestry. (fn. 58) Although some older work was incorporated, much of the structure, including the chancel, had apparently been rebuilt early in the 13th century. The chancel was lighted by lancet windows and there was a priest's door on the south side. (fn. 59) The tower dated from the 14th century; it was of three stages with a west doorway, a tall west window above it, paired windows to the belfry, and an embattled parapet with angle pinnacles. Gargoyles at parapet level were probably those later incorporated in the end houses of the terrace in Brook Street. (fn. 60) The south porch was in existence by the 15th century. (fn. 61) Some of the buttresses may have been added about 1687. (fn. 62) A west gallery was installed in 1717, (fn. 63) and it was probably at this time that the pitch of the nave and aisle roofs was lowered, the parapet of the nave was raised, and circular clerestory windows were inserted to light the upper part of the church. Other galleries may have been added later. (fn. 64) Square–headed aisle windows were possibly of 14th-century origin or, more probably, 18th-century insertions. (fn. 65)
After the completion of the new church the materials of the old building, including the internal fittings, were put up for sale. (fn. 66) Much of the stone was used to form the bed of a watercourse serving Boothen Mill and here it was discovered by Charles Lynam in 1881 when the mill was demolished and the watercourse was about to be filled in. (fn. 67) From the available worked stones and certain other fragments from the old building Lynam reconstructed two semicircular arches, a circular and an octagonal pier, parts of other arches and three semi-octagonal responds. These were set up on the site of the former church, the plan of which was said to be discernible from existing foundations. (fn. 68) At the same time the east end of the chancel was indicated by masonry and by placing in position the original altar slab which had been preserved in the new church (see below). With the exception of some stones bearing Norman zigzag ornament, (fn. 69) all the reused fragments appear to date from the first half of the 13th century. The evidence concerning the exact form of the original nave is conflicting: Lynam's reconstruction gives a four-bay nave arcade with semicircular arches while surviving views of the exterior suggest a nave of five bays. (fn. 70) One who remembered the old church wrote in 1881 that the nave arcades were of five pointed arches; (fn. 71) this type of arch would certainly seem more probable in association with the other early-13thcentury features. (fn. 72)
The new church, on a site to the north of the old one, was begun in 1826 and consecrated in 1830. (fn. 73) It was the first of the new 19th–century churches to be built in the Potteries and consequently the laying of the foundation stones was attended by much ceremony and enthusiasm. (fn. 74) The list of subscribers illustrates the wide range of support given by this time to the building of new churches. The cost was over £14,000, and £15,000 was raised by means of a parliamentary grant of £641, a grant of £391 from the Incorporated Church Building Society, a parish rate of £3,400, and private benefacations including £3,300 from the rector, John Chappel Woodhouse (1814–32), £500 from Josiah Spode, £300 from John Tomlinson the patron, £250 from George IV out of the Duchy of Lancaster's revenues, £500 from 'the working-classes of Stoke proper', and £500 in the form of free help from parishioners. (fn. 75) The building, which is in the Perpendicular style, was designed by Trubshaw and Johnson (fn. 76) and carried out in red sandstone, now much blackened. It consists of a wide galleried nave of five bays, a chancel flanked by low vestries, and a west tower. The windows contain Perpendicular tracery, those in the nave having deep transomes to mask the backs of the side galleries. The tower rises in four stages and is surmounted by an embattled parapet and angle pinnacles. The hood-moulding of the west doorway rests on carved corbel heads, said to represent John Tomlinson and the Revd. John Woodhouse, respectively patron and rector of the church. (fn. 77) Flanking the tower are two vestibules containing the gallery staircases. The nave retains galleries on three sides, supported on buttressed stone piers and with fronts of panelled oak; the organ occupies its original position in the west gallery. The nave ceiling is spanned by cast-iron trusses and is divided into panels by moulded ribs and bosses. An unusual feature for the period is the comparatively long chancel, divided from the nave by a stone arch and said at the time to be 'unlike the mimick chancels of most modern churches'. (fn. 78) The east window of five lights contains contemporary stained glass which includes figures of the twelve apostles. Armorial bearings in the other chancel windows (fn. 79) have been replaced by later stained glass.
The interior of the church was renovated in 1888 to commemorate the consecration of the rector, Sir Lovelace Stamer, as Bishop of Shrewsbury. At this time the three-decker pulpit in the central aisle, the square family pews, and all the pew doors were removed, and the organ was reconstructed. (fn. 80) The present pulpit dates from 1894. (fn. 81) The old altar slab lay in the new church until 1881 when it was placed on its original site; it was taken back to the church in 1933, and after a short time in the Warrior's Chapel it has since been used as the high altar once again. (fn. 82) The reredos was given by Sir Lovelace Stamer in 1888 and the two side-panels were added by the parishioners in 1892 in memory of his work as rector. (fn. 83) A font was presented to the new church by John Tomlinson (fn. 84) and the old font, probably of Norman date, (fn. 85) was first removed to his garden at Cliffville and in 1876 placed in its former position on the site of the old church; it was transferred to the new church and rededicated in 1932. (fn. 86) A new cover was then made out of oak taken from the beams of the bell-chamber of St. Peter's, Wolverhampton. (fn. 87) An ivory Spanish crucifix thought to be of the late 17th century and mounted on Genoese velvet of the same period was given by Ronald Copeland in 1933 and hangs above the pulpit. (fn. 88) A feature of the church is the large number of memorial tiles around the walls, introduced by Sir Lovelace Stamer in 1858. (fn. 89) Several of the existing mural tablets were moved from the old church including those to John Poulson (d. 1691), John Fenton (d. 1782) with members of his family, and Hugh Booth (d. 1789). In the chancel is a tablet to Josiah Wedgwood (d. 1795) with a portrait medallion in high relief by John Flaxman (fn. 90) and one to his wife Sarah (d. 1815) and his son Thomas (d. 1805). Tablets to members of the Spode family include those to Josiah (d. 1797), (fn. 91) Josiah (d. 1827), and Josiah (d. 1829), the last incorporating a mourning figure by William Behnes. (fn. 92) Opposite is a large tablet by Behnes with an angel in high relief, commemorating John Bourne (d. 1833). Also in the chancel are memorials to John Woodhouse (d. 1833), rector and Dean of Lichfield, and to John Tomlinson (d. 1838); both have portrait heads, the latter by Behnes. Other tablets in the church include those to William Adams (d. 1829), Thomas Wolfe (d. 1848), William Copeland (d. 1868), and the Revd. Sir Lovelace Tomlinson Stamer (d. 1908). There is also a modern tablet commemorating members of the Adams family (1775–1865).
In 1553 the plate consisted of a silver chalice and paten, (fn. 93) presumably the silver cup with a silver cover mentioned between 1606 and 1612 when both pieces were in the hands of the clerk. (fn. 94) They were evidently lost by 1613, for that year one of the churchwardens, after being cited before the Official at Caverswall because the church had no communion book or cup, bought a new silver cup and cover. (fn. 95) In 1615 the plate was said to consist of a silver 'peece' and a silver cup. A pewter flagon was added in 1616. (fn. 96) These three items still made up the church plate in 1627. (fn. 97) The church does not now possess any plate dating from before the early 19th century. (fn. 98)
There were three bells and a small bell, presumably a sanctus bell, in 1553. (fn. 99) There seem to have been at least four bells by 1615 (fn. 100) in addition to the sanctus bell which was in the custody of Thomas Browne of Great Fenton between at any rate 1606 and 1627. (fn. 101) Some of the bells were recast at Congleton in 1611, 1617, and 1627. (fn. 102) There was also a clock by 1613. (fn. 103) There were five bells before the end of the 17th century, (fn. 104) and in 1697 there was mention of 'the little bell wheel'. (fn. 105) Before the end of the 18th century there were six bells. (fn. 106) Five of them were recast in 1831 and 1832 by William and John Taylor of Oxford and Bideford and the sixth was removed. (fn. 107) Three new bells were added at this time. (fn. 108)
The registers date from 1630. Those up to 1812 have been printed. (fn. 109)
The rectory estate and the successive parsonage houses are described elsewhere. (fn. 110) The assistant curate's house stood in about half an acre of ground at the south-west corner of the churchyard facing on the Fenton road by the early 19th century, but it was demolished when the new church was built. (fn. 111) The curate then moved to Stoke Hall, (fn. 112) the rector being Dean of Lichfield, and was living there again in 1851, John Wickes Tomlinson being non-resident. (fn. 113)
The churchyard had an alley or walk by the mid15th century which was then used for processions. (fn. 114) In 1791 the extent of the churchyard was increased to 2 acres by the addition of glebe adjoining the church. (fn. 115) When the National school was built to the east in 1815 part of the churchyard was taken as a playground. (fn. 116) With the rebuilding of the church the area was again increased by the purchase of another 2 acres of glebe land, and the level was raised to avoid the flooding to which the ground had previously been liable. (fn. 117) In 1910 the churchyard was taken over as an open space by the corporation, and during the miners' strike in 1912 it was laid out by men on strike, part of the distress fund being used to meet the cost. (fn. 118)
Two fragments of a stone cross thought to date from c. 1000 were dug up in 1876 near the line of the south wall of the former church. They seem to have been partly cut away, and it has been suggested that they were used as the lintel of the priest's door in the old church. They were placed near the door to the clergy vestry in the new church, remaining there until 1935 when Percy Adams of Woore Manor had them placed in the churchyard, mounted on a base and railed round to commemorate George V's Silver Jubilee. (fn. 119)
The Red Lion Inn at the south-east corner of the churchyard belonged to the rector until 1925 when it was conveyed to Showell's Brewery. The inn stands on the site of an earlier building, probably also an inn, which is said to have been given to the church to provide an income for the support of a curate by one of the Poulson family, (fn. 120) parish clerks between at least the 17th and the early 19th centuries. (fn. 121)
The parish church seems to have been used as a prison for the Scots in 1648 when 4s. 6d. was paid to the clerk 'for dressing and cleaning the church after the Scots were gone'. (fn. 122)
Fourteen mission centres have been opened from St. Peter's: Cliff Vale c. 1860–1957; Boothen 1870; Cliff Bank Square c. 1883–c. 1902; (fn. 123) Potts Ground c. 1883, now known as All Saints Mission as it is served from All Saints Mission Church, Boothen; (fn. 124) Queen Street (now Rebecca Street) c. 1883–c. 1911; (fn. 125) Welch Street c. 1883–c. 1898; (fn. 126) a mission room at Stoke Wharf for 'canal boat people' 1886–c. 1923; (fn. 127) Union Street c. 1886–c. 1889; (fn. 128) Frederick Avenue c. 1893 in two converted cottages, replaced in 1899 by the first part of the present mission church of St. Barnabas which was completed in 1906; (fn. 129) Bowstead Street c. 1898–c. 1903; (fn. 130) Oxford Street c. 1899– c. 1906; (fn. 131) Holy Trinity Mission, Birks Street, 1908, burnt down in 1952; (fn. 132) Dean Street c. 1911–c. 1928; (fn. 133) and St. Peter's Mission, Golding Street, c. 1950– c. 1958. (fn. 134)
At Cliff Vale services were held c. 1860 at the school in Shelton Old Road formed out of two converted cottages. This was replaced by an iron church which after a fire in 1865 was itself replaced in the same year by the school church in North Street. St. Andrew's Mission Church on the site of the Upper Cliff Bank Pottery at the junction of Honeywall and Hartshill Road was built in 1906. It was sold in 1957. (fn. 135)
At Boothen services were held from 1870 in the school church built that year. An iron mission church was built in 1877 and replaced by the present stone church of All Saints erected in 1887–8 on a site given by Sir Thomas Boughey. The Diocesan Church Extension Society gave £230 and the Incorporated Church Building Society £120, and £4,000 was raised by subscription. The church was designed by Charles Lynam and is in the Perpendicular style with nave, chancel, two aisles under separate gabled roofs, and a west turret. (fn. 136)
A school at Penkhull stated in 1835 to have been erected for the provision of religious instruction was licensed for divine service in 1836. (fn. 137) The church of ST. THOMAS THE APOSTLE was built on the same site at the south end of the village green in 1842. Most of the cost of erection and endowment was met by the Revd. Thomas Webb Minton (1791– 1870), of Darlington (Co. Durham), (fn. 138) but £410 was contributed by the Diocesan Church Extension Society. (fn. 139) The right of appointing the incumbent, a perpetual curate from 1843 when the parish was formed and a titular vicar from 1868, lay with the founder (fn. 140) until his death in 1870 when it passed to his son, the Revd. Samuel Minton of Putney. (fn. 141) It passed c. 1883 from him to F. Bishop (fn. 142) and c. 1884 to the Rector of Stoke, (fn. 143) who is still the patron. (fn. 144) The Revd. A. Perry, vicar since 1956, (fn. 145) was Lord Mayor of Stoke in 1957–8 and was probably the first Anglican clergyman to be a lord mayor. (fn. 146)
The church, which is in the Early English style, was designed by George Gilbert (later Sir Gilbert) Scott and originally consisted of a nave, transepts, chancel, and west tower. The nave has an open roof, pierced by dormer windows, and the tower, which contains one bell dated 1843, (fn. 147) is surmounted by a broach spire. In 1892 the building was enlarged by the addition of north and south aisles which were continued westwards to form a vestry and a baptistery flanking the base of the tower. At the same time the organ gallery was moved from the west end to the south transept, a vestry being constructed beneath it; all pew rents were abolished at this period. (fn. 148) The Revd. Vernon Aston, vicar 1931–56, built the present stone arcades of three bays between the nave and aisles. (fn. 149) Extensive renewal of the fabric, including an almost complete rebuilding of the walls, was carried out in 1958. (fn. 150) The clock was given in memory of John Blow Ashwell by his widow and children in 1913. (fn. 151) A north aisle window is fitted with pictorial stained glass in memory of 292 Army Field Company R.E. Also in the north aisle is a tablet commemorating the Revd. Thomas Webb Minton (1791–1870), founder of the church, and his son the Revd. Samuel Minton (d. 1893), the first vicar. The churchyard includes the grave of the parents of Sir Oliver Lodge, F.R.S., who was born and baptized at Penkhull in 1851, the son of a railway clerk. (fn. 152) The portion of the churchyard on the north side of the church has been laid out by the city council as a garden. The vicarage-house seems to have stood at first at the junction of Penkhull New Road and East Street, but this house was soon replaced by the present vicarage in Doncaster Lane. (fn. 153)
A mission centre in Slaney Street was opened from St. Thomas's in c. 1894. It was closed c. 1898. (fn. 154)
The church of HOLY TRINITY at Hartshill was built and endowed in 1842 by Herbert Minton of Longfield Cottage (1792–1858). He also built the house for the incumbent to the west and the schools to the south and gave 2 acres of ground for the churchyard. (fn. 155) The right of nominating the incumbent, a perpetual curate from the creation of the parish in 1842 and a titular vicar from 1868, lay with the founder until his death in 1858 when it passed to his nephew Colin Minton Campbell. (fn. 156) On Campbell's death in 1885 it passed to John Fitzherbert Campbell (fn. 157) and c. 1911 to the Bishop of Lichfield (fn. 158) who is still the patron. (fn. 159) The church was designed by George Gilbert Scott (fn. 160) in the Early English style and consists of an aisled and clerestoried nave of five bays, a chancel, and a spired west tower. The chancel, which originally had two bays and a square east end, (fn. 161) was rebuilt in its present apsidal form at the expense of Colin Minton Campbell (d. 1885), (fn. 162) an organ chamber being added to the north and a chapel to the south of it. In the nave a continuous dado is formed by glazed memorial tiles. The original fittings included one bell; a second bell was added in 1873. (fn. 163) A panelled reredos and a new organ (1948) serve as memorials to those who fell in the First and Second World Wars respectively. (fn. 164) In 1960 temporary scaffolding had been erected to protect the nave arcades from mining subsidence.
Three mission centres have been opened from Holy Trinity, all of them still in existence in some form. The earliest was at Kingscroft school where services were held from c. 1873. A few years later the iron church of St. Matthew was built at the junction of Kingscroft and Spring Street. It was enlarged in 1887. In 1922 it was replaced by the present St. Matthew's Mission Church nearby in Stoke Old Road. (fn. 165)
The second mission centre was in Sackville Street (now Bedford Street), at Basford, where the church of St. Mark was opened in 1878. (fn. 166) It was enlarged in 1884 and 1887. (fn. 167) In 1915 it was replaced by the present church of St. Mark in Basford Park Road (and thus within the bounds of the ancient parish of Wolstanton and of the present borough of Newcastle). A new parish was created out of Hartshill and Wolstanton in the same year. The living, a titular vicarage, has remained in the gift of the bishops of Lichfield. (fn. 168)
The third mission centre opened from Holy Trinity is in two converted cottages in Garner Street and dates from c. 1894. (fn. 169)
The church of ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST in Newcastle Road, Trent Vale, was built in 1843–4 at a cost of £1,260, of which £255 was given by the Diocesan Church Extension Society and the rest raised by subscription. (fn. 170) It was made a parish church in 1844 shortly after its consecration. (fn. 171) The patronage of the living, a perpetual curacy until 1868 when it became a titular vicarage, has always been held by the Rector of Stoke. (fn. 172) The church, which is built of dark brick with stone dressings and has lancet windows, originally consisted only of a nave, a chancel, and a spired west tower with a bell, (fn. 173) the base of the tower forming an entrance porch. A south vestry was added in 1878. (fn. 174) In 1909 a new nave and chancel were built to the north, the original nave becoming a south aisle. (fn. 175) The present nave has a baptistery at its west end and is divided from the aisle by a stone arcade of four bays. The vicarage-house is in Vicarage Lane on the opposite side of the main road.
The Bible and Domestic Mission Room was opened from St. John's c. 1888. It was closed c. 1904. (fn. 176)