Stapenhill: Established church

Pages 215-218

A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 9, Burton-Upon-Trent. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2003.

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The dedication of Stapenhill church to St. Peter, recorded in the 16th century, suggests a pre-Conquest foundation, that being a common dedication in the Anglo-Saxon period. (fn. 8) The church may have had minster status: in the late 11th century there were dependent chapels at Drakelow, 'Heathcote' (a lost settlement in Stanton township), and Newhall, as well as one at Cauldwell, recorded in 1280. (fn. 9) A graveyard at Newhall was recorded in 1292. (fn. 10) There may also have been a chapel at Brizlincote: a plot of land once belonging to a chaplain there was assigned to the chamberlain of Burton abbey in 1326. (fn. 11) Drakelow was transferred to Church Gresley parish (Derb.), apparently in the early 17th century and certainly by 1650, when parliamentary commissioners proposed making Cauldwell into a separate parish. (fn. 12) Cauldwell, however, remained part of Stapenhill parish, and the church of St. Giles there continues to be served from St. Peter's. The southern part of Stapenhill township was assigned in 1996 to the new parish of Immanuel church. (fn. 13)

The scattered holdings of Burton abbey in Stapenhill township were not fully integrated into Stapenhill parish. Some houses near Stapenhill church and the farmhouse at Brizlincote were in Burton parish for ecclesiastical purposes, although residents there were buried at Stapenhill. (fn. 14) In 1650 parliamentary commissioners advocated incorporating those places into Stapenhill parish, but the transfer took place only in 1864. (fn. 15)

Because Stapenhill was still in Derbyshire in 1884, it was transferred that year from Lichfield diocese to the newly-established diocese of Southwell, where it remained until 1927 when taken into Derby diocese. (fn. 16)


According to an early 16th-century history of the abbots of Burton, Stapenhill church was given to the abbey by Abbot Beohtric, either the abbot 1027-1050 or his namesake 1066 (or 1067)-1085. (fn. 17) After the dissolution of the abbey and then of Burton college, the patronage passed to the Paget family as lords of Burton manor, (fn. 18) and in 1925 it was transferred to the Church Association Trust (later the Church Society Trust), still the patron in 1999. (fn. 19)

Income and Property

In the 1150s the priest at Stapenhill was assigned some tithes by the abbey. (fn. 20) When Bishop William Cornhill (1214-23) confirmed the abbey's ownership of the church there, he stipulated the institution of a perpetual vicar. (fn. 21) The order was repeated by Bishop Alexander Stavensby in 1230, and following the resignation of the church by John de Caen, presumably the rector, in the same year a vicarage was evidently ordained; the abbey was inducted as rector in 1231. (fn. 1) There appear to have been later disputes about the endowment of the vicarage, and in 1268 the bishop confirmed that the abbey as rector was entitled to the tithe of corn throughout the parish, including its chapelries (Cauldwell, Drakelow, and Newhall), and also the tithe of hay and the small tithes from its demesne land. The vicar was to have the tithe of hay and the small tithes from other land, together with a house in Stapenhill and parcels of glebe land in various parts of the parish. (fn. 2)

The church was valued at £15 13s. 4d. a year in 1291. In 1535 the abbey received £10 a year, probably representing the great tithes, and the vicar received only £2 10s. (13s. from glebe, 16s. from small tithes, and 21s. from offerings); the vicar, however, also received an annual payment of £3 6s. 8d. from the lords of Newhall (presumably in lieu of tithes). (fn. 3) In 1650 the church was worth £43 6s. 8d. a year, together with £5 for Cauldwell. (fn. 4) In 1665 the vicar still claimed all the small tithes, but by 1668 Cauldwell paid a modus of £6, as did Stanton and Newhall by 1693. The Cauldwell modus was evidently disputed, but was confirmed in 1676 by an agreement which required the vicar to preach once a month at Cauldwell. (fn. 5) In 1707 the vicar received £31 from glebe and tithes and £12 3s. from moduses, together with Easter offerings, fees, and small rents. (fn. 6) Owen Lloyd (vicar 1768-1813) (fn. 7) disputed the Cauldwell modus in 1773, and by decision of the House of Lords in 1777 he was restored the small tithes there, worth c. £40 a year. (fn. 8) The Stanton and Newhall payment was disputed by his successor in 1815, but the defendants argued that it was not in fact a modus but rather a pension derived from there once having been a chapel at Newhall. (fn. 9) The vicar's claim was evidently dismissed, and he still received the payment in 1841. (fn. 10)

At inclosure in 1773 the vicar was assigned 24 a. on Stapenhill heath in lieu of small tithes from ancient inclosures, and in 1841 the total glebe was 86 a. (fn. 11) It was probably as a result of the renting of glebe to brickmakers that the vicar's net income had risen by 1831 to £373, out of which he paid £93 to the curate of Cauldwell. (fn. 12)

There was a vicarage house of two bays in 1665, enlarged to four bays by 1698. Owen Lloyd left it in a ruinous condition, and it was still uninhabitable in 1831. (fn. 13) A new house, east of the church on what was probably the same site, was built in the late 1830s by John Clay (vicar 1837-77), even though Clay lived in a family house near the church. (fn. 14) The 19th-century vicarage house was sold in the late 1960s and the present house built to the west on the main road. (fn. 15)

Church Life

After William Bradshaw, a noted puritan divine, was suspended from his lectureship at Chatham (Kent) in 1602, he was supported by Alexander Redich of Newhall and began to preach in a private chapel in Redich's grounds. As the congregation grew larger, Bradshaw moved into Stapenhill church, and he continued to preach there, as well helping to conduct a 'common exercise' in the Burton area. He died on a visit to London in 1618. (fn. 16) Another puritan, John Lucas, was appointed as vicar in 1647, and in 1650 he was described as being 'of good conversation'. (fn. 17)

Soon after he became vicar in 1768, Owen Lloyd began to celebrate holy communion at Michaelmas, in addition to Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun, and in the earlier 1770s there were between 30 and 40 communicants. A sermon was preached every Sunday morning. (fn. 18) A stipendiary curate, Hugh Jones, served Stapenhill for the absentee vicar Henry Des Voeux in 1824; Jones was also the curate at St. Modwen's in Burton, where he lived. (fn. 19) In 1829 the curate was Joseph Clay, the son of the Burton banker Joseph Clay (d. 1824). (fn. 20) The younger Joseph retired because of illhealth, (fn. 21) and his brother John was curate in 1834, becoming vicar in 1837. He died in office in 1877. (fn. 22) In 1851 there were two Sunday services, with average attendances of 140 in the morning and 180 in the evening; there was also a Sunday school. (fn. 23)

Figure 71:

St. Peter's church in the early 19th century from the south

The growing number of brickyard workers caused the vicar to engage a scripture reader in the early 1850s, (fn. 1) and in 1869 a mission room was opened in Short Street, doubling up as a board school from 1874. (fn. 2) Another mission room opened at the southeast end of Stanton Road in 1884 was served from Christ Church, in Burton. (fn. 3) The parish church itself was completely rebuilt on a much larger scale in 1881 to accommodate the increased population (fn. 4)

The services were formerly mainstream Church of England, but the church now has an evangelical ethos and there is a strong supporting lay ministry.

In 1874 the vicar proposed to convert the boys' day school at the north end of Stanton Road into a parish reading room and library. The present building there was erected by subscription in 1891 and was vested in diocesan trustees in 1900. (fn. 5) Later known as the Glebe School, the building was restored in 1988 and was used in 1999 mainly as a church hall. (fn. 6)

Church Building

Nothing survives of the medieval church of St. Peter, but an 18th-century drawing shows a building whose exterior was mainly of 13th-century date with a chancel, nave, and two-stage west tower with crenellated parapet. The nave and possibly the chancel were probably aisled on the north side. (fn. 7) Internally, however, that building included earlier features such as a roundheaded chancel arch, possibly of pre-Conquest date, and the nave was probably of a length found in many Anglo-Saxon churches. (fn. 8) The nave and tower were demolished in or shortly after 1780 and were replaced with an aisleless nave with a bell-turret at the west end. The cost was probably met by local subscription, the chancel being left untouched presumably because Lord Paget as the rector was not prepared to pay for its rebuilding. (fn. 9) A north gallery was erected in the nave in 1821. (fn. 10) It was retained when the nave was rebuilt in the late 1830s under the direction of Henry Stevens of Derby and entirely at the expense of the new vicar, John Clay. The pulpit and reading desk were sited on the south side of the chancel arch, and the new work included the addition of a south porch and a west tower with tall lancet windows and pinnacles. (fn. 11) The chancel was demolished in 1860 or 1861, again with Stevens as architect, and the nave was extended eastwards to form a new chancel with only a shallow projection. (fn. 12) The pulpit and reading desk were separated, the former (or possibly a new one) being moved to the north side of the chancel arch. (fn. 13)

The increase in population in the 1860s and 1870s necessitated a larger building, and money was raised to rebuild the church in its present form in 1881. The main benefactors were members of the Clay family and Burton brewing firms. Designed mostly in a Decorated style by Evans and Jolly of Nottingham, the church comprises a short chancel, short north and south transepts with north vestry, an aisled nave of four bays lit by clerestory windows, a small south porch, and an engaged south-west tower with pinnacles; there is also a door and internal porch under the tower. Derbyshire stone was used for the walls, with dressings of Bath and Ancaster stone. Internally, the organ was resited in a gallery at the west end of the nave and the pulpit placed in the centre of the chancel, flanked by prayer and lesson desks. The upper stages of the present tower with its pinnacles were not yet completed in 1881 but were added soon afterwards in limestone. (fn. 1) The west gallery was removed and the organ placed on the north side of the chancel in the early 20th century, when the chancel and south Lady chapel were refitted in an Art Nouveau style: a memorial east window in the Lady chapel is dated 1908. (fn. 2)

Furnishings and Fittings The circular medieval stone font which was in the church in the early 19th century was later removed, but may be that which was recovered from a farmyard in 1973 and placed in its present position at the east end of the north aisle. (fn. 3) A new font was installed evidently in the late 1830s, and was itself replaced in 1881. (fn. 4) That font too was replaced in the early 20th century by a marble one of Art Nouveau style which stands at the west end of the nave.

In 1552 the plate consisted of a silver chalice and paten, possibly the silver cup and plate used in the earlier 1820s, when there was also a silver flagon given in 1738 by Mrs. Martha Selleck. There was a hand bell in 1552 and two other bells, one of which was broken and was to be sold. The good bell was probably replaced by a bell cast in 1796, that being the only bell in the church in the earlier 1820s. (fn. 5) It was still in use in 1999.

Monuments include an incised alabaster slab from an altar tomb for William Dethick of Newhall (d. 1497) and his wife Margaret. Formerly in the chancel, it was affixed to the west wall of the south aisle probably when the church was rebuilt in 1881. (fn. 6)

The registers date from 1679. (fn. 7)

Graveyard The burial ground around the church, certainly no longer in use by 1882, may have been closed when Burton municipal cemetery was opened nearby in 1866. (fn. 8)


Immanuel church in Hawthorn Crescent was opened in 1963 to serve primarily the Sycamore Road estate. The building is a hall-church of simple, concrete construction with a mono-pitched roof and high casement windows. Folding screens allow the west end to be partitioned off for use as a meeting room. The church was assigned its own parish in 1996, and the patronage was vested in the Church Society Trust. (fn. 9)


  • 1. Staffs. Advertiser, 24 Sept. 1881, p. 5 (giving cost of church as £10,500). The final design altered somewhat from the plans approved in a faculty of 1879: L.R.O., B/C/5/1879/Stapenhill (faculty).
  • 2. D.R.O., D. 1282 A/PV 1/1, entries for 15 Oct. 1903 and 4 Apr. 1907.
  • 3. Ibid. D. 1282 A/PI 7/10; Burton Daily Mail, 27 June 1974, p. 12.
  • 4. Cox, Notes on Churches of Derb. iii. 478; Staffs. Advertiser, 24 Sept. 1881, p. 5.
  • 5. Cox, Notes on Churches of Derb. iii. 477, 480; Church in Derb. in 1823-4, 160; Derb. Arch. Jnl. lxxxi. 52.
  • 6. Cox, Notes on Churches of Derb. iii. 478-9.
  • 7. All except those in current use are in D.R.O., D. 1282.
  • 8. Burton Libr., D. 23/2/1/3, rep. of 27 Jan. 1882; above, Burton, public services (municipal cemetery).
  • 9. Plaques on outside wall and in chancel; inf. from Church Society.
  • 1a. B.L. Loan MS. 30, f. 20v.; S.R.O., D. 603/A/ADD/86.
  • 2a. Cox, Notes on Churches of Derb. iii. 475-6 (citing B.L. Add. MS. 6674, f. 298v.).
  • 3a. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 247; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii. 145, 164.
  • 4a. Cox, Notes on Churches of Derb. iii. 476.
  • 5a. D.R.O., D. 2360/1/148/1, 4, 6-7, and 9.
  • 6a. B.L. Add. MS. 6674, f. 286.
  • 7a. L.R.O., B/A/3/Stapenhill/1768; Staffs. Advertiser, 13 Mar. 1813, p. 4.
  • 8a. B.L. Add. MS. 6674, f. 299; L.R.O., B/V/5/1772-3, Stapenhill.
  • 9a. B.L. Add. MS. 6674, ff. 291-317.
  • 10. D.R.O., D. 2360/1/148/15.
  • 11. Ibid.; S.R.O., D. 5646/Stapenhill and Winshill inclosure award, 1773, m. [5].
  • 12. Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, 500-1.
  • 13. D.R.O., D. 2360/1/148/1 and 7; Accts. of Benefices and Population, H.C., p. 105 (1818), xviii; Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, 500-1. The return in The Church in Derb. in 1823-4, ed. M. R. Martin (Derb. Rec. Soc. v, 1974), 160, that the parsonage ho. had been rebuilt seems to be incorrect.
  • 14. D.R.O., D. 2360/1/148/15; Bagshaw, Derb. 266.
  • 15. Inf. from Derb. Dioc. Regy.
  • 16. D.N.B.; S. Clarke, Lives of Two and Twenty Eng. Divines (1660), 32-66. For the 'exercise' see above, Burton, established church (St. Modwen's).
  • 17. W. A. Shaw. Hist. of the Eng. Church, 1640-1660, ii. 346; Lambeth Palace Libr., MS. Comm. XIIa/6, f. 378.
  • 18. L.R.O., B/V/5/1772-3/Stapenhill.
  • 19. Church in Derb. in 1823-4, 160. He was later curate at Tatenhill.
  • 20. S. Glover, Dir. County of Derby (1829), 101.
  • 21. He died in Egypt: Staffs. Advertiser, 30 Nov. 1839, p. 3; plaque on E. wall of internal porch.
  • 22. White, Dir. Staffs. (1834), 328; L.R.O., B/A/3/Stapenhill; plaque on wall of S. aisle.
  • 23. Derb. Returns to 1851 Religious Census, ed. M. Tranter (Derb. Rec. Soc. xxiii, 1995), 19.
  • 8b. Derb. Arch. Jnl. cxii. 59; W. Levison, Eng. and the Continent in the Eighth Cent. 259-61.
  • 9b. Dugdale, Mon. iii. 42; S.H.C. 1937, p. 80.
  • 10a. S.H.C. 1937, p. 85.
  • 11a. S.R.O., D. 603/A/ADD/447.
  • 12a. J.C. Cox, Notes on the Churches of Derb. iii (1877), 371, 476.
  • 13a. Below, this section.
  • 14a. D.R.O., D. 1282 A/PI 1/1.
  • 15a. Cox, Notes on Churches of Derb. iii. 476 (citing Lambeth Palace Libr., MS. Comm. XIIa/6, ff. 377-8); S.R.O., D. 603/K/26/ 41, John Clay to marquess of Anglesey, 10 Apr. 1860; Lich. Dioc. Regy., Orders-in-Council Reg. Q, pp. 61-70.
  • 16a. Lond. Gaz. 5 Feb. 1884, p. 527; 1 July 1927, p. 4207.
  • 17a. Dugdale, Mon. iii. 47; V.C.H. Staffs. iii. 213.
  • 18a. P.R.O., E 164/41, f. 21v.; L.R.O., B/A/3/Stapenhill.
  • 19a. Inf. from Church Society.
  • 20a. S.H.C. 1937, p. 12 (where Stanton is wrongly identified as Stanton in the Staffs. parish of Ellastone).
  • 21a. Ibid. p. 31.
  • 1b. S.R.O., D. 603/K/26/25, John Clay to [-], 9 Mar. [1853].
  • 2b. P.R.O., ED 7/112/Burton/12; below, educ.
  • 3b. Staffs. Advertiser, 13 Dec. 1884, p. 5; O.S. Map 6", Derb. LX. NW. (1902 edn.).
  • 4b. Below, this section (church building).
  • 5b. T. Bulmer & Co. Hist., Topog., and Dir. Derb. (1895), 817; D.R.O., D. 1282 A/PI 10/1; below, educ.
  • 6b. Inscribed glass in porch.
  • 7b. Framed copy (in church vestry) of late 18th-cent. drawing of church.
  • 8c. Cox, Notes on Churches of Derb. iii. 478 (citing MS. survey of Derb. chs. by R. R. Rawlins, at Derby Local Studies Libr. in 1999). Rawlins, who gives the length of the nave (rebuilt in 1780) as 35 ft. 10 ins., completed his survey in 1843 but seems to have visited Stapenhill ch. some years earlier.
  • 9c. B.L. Church Briefs, B. xix. 4.
  • 10b. L.R.O., B/C/5/1820/Stapenhill (faculty).
  • 11b. Ibid. B/C/5/1837/Stapenhill (faculty); Bagshaw, Derb. 266.
  • 12b. Cox, Notes on Churches of Derb. iii. 477; Derb. Arch. Jnl. ciii. 135-6.
  • 13b. L.R.O., B/C/5/1879/Stapenhill (faculty), plan of existing ch.