Churches and Religion

The Old Meeting House

The Convention Parliament, set up in 1660 to reorganise the country after the civil war, had the responsibility of effecting a reconciliation in the Church of England. This led to the Savoy Conference of 1661, in which 12 Anglican bishops and 12 ministers from the Puritan and Presbyterian churches, along their assistants, attempted to revise the Book of Common Prayer.

The Act of Uniformity followed in 1662. Around 2,000 Anglican ministers refused to comply with the terms of the Act and so were evicted from their livings. One of them, Joseph Eccleshall, had been vicar of Sedgley since 1657. Before the end of 1662 he moved to Coseley and started to hold services in a private house near Wallbrook. The congregation was known as ‘The Old Meeting Congregation’. He built-up a sizeable following, so much so that on his death in 1692, the funeral service was attended by so many people that the floor gave way and collapsed into the cellar, resulting in a number of injuries.

In 1717 the original Presbyterian chapel was built in Old Meeting Road, at Old End, which became known as ‘The Old Meeting House’.  This was the first church of any denomination to be established in Coseley. In 1735 a school room was built behind the church. It is thought to be the earliest school in Coseley. Samuel Bourn and other church officials made it their responsibility to provide education for the children of Coseley, who would otherwise have had no education at all.

In the early 1830s, the minister was John Cooper, an enthusiastic supporter of the Reform Bill of 1832. He antagonised many members of the congregation by his outspoken views and was asked by the trustees of the church to resign. He took legal action against them, but was unsuccessful in his bid to remain at the church. He attempted to establish another church in the locality, but could not gain the necessary support. He soon left Coseley and became a minister at a church in Lutton and another at Fleet, both in Lincolnshire.

The original chapel was destroyed by fire on the 15th July, 1872 and replaced by the existing building, which opened on 10th August, 1875. The chapel has its own burial ground which dates back to the 1700s.  

As a result of the Toleration Act of 1813, the chapel became Unitarian under the Reverend H. Euchus, J.P. who came to Coseley in 1865. Thanks to his efforts, the chapel was able to sell or lease the mines at the Coppice, that belonged to the church. The money received was used to fund the rebuilding of the chapel in 1874/75.

The Old Meeting House.

Providence Baptist Church

Providence Church in Hospital Lane, was formed about 1805, as a result of the split in the Darkhouse congregation. In the early years, converts to the faith were baptised in the canal at Coseley and at Bloomfield. The chapel was built in 1809 and had two galleries, one of which was occupied by the choir and an orchestra, until an organ was installed in 1845.

The congregation grew to such an extent that the original chapel became too small and so was replaced by a larger building in 1870. The chapel became connected with the Turley family, who worshipped there for several generations. Two members of the family, James and Sarah Turley are buried in a vault beneath the church.

 Providence Baptist Church. From an old postcard.

The Ebenezer Chapel

The Ebenezer Chapel in Ebenezer Street, began in about 1856 when some of the congregation from the Providence Baptist Chapel became dissatisfied with the church. They decided to hold their own services in Isaac Richards’ house, in Coseley Bull Ring. They also held open air services at a place called the stone stile. They then moved to Coseley Hall barn in Old Meeting Road that was owned by Mr. Barnett, who also owned Coseley Hall.

Members of the congregation assisted in digging the foundations for the Ebenezer Chapel in 1857. The chapel opened on the 7th September, 1858 under the leadership of the Reverend W. Jones, who remained there until 1861. The first major renovation took place in 1889, and another in 1939.

The chapel is now called The New Hope Baptist Church.

Methodist Churches

Methodist Churches were built at Lanesfield, Ladymoor, Bradley, Daisy Bank and in the centre of Coseley itself. Members of the Methodist New Connexion built chapels in Wallbrook and Swan Village, and the Primitive Methodists built churches at Cinder Hill and Ettingshall.

Hall Green Methodist Church appears to have been formed as a result of John Wesley’s visit to Hurst Hill, sometime after 1761. Two of his converts, ‘Honest Munchin’ and Francis Ward, formed a small local society and held meetings in a room above two wash houses. The room soon became too small for the growing congregation and so John Wilkinson, the iron master, built a Cast Metal Meeting House for them in about 1790. This burned down in the early 19th century and replaced by a new chapel in 1835, that was rebuilt in 1902. It is now called Bradley Methodist Church.

A small group of Wesleyan Methodists held services in Thumper's Lane, which was near the windmill on the western side of Coseley. A chapel was built for the worshippers, mainly thanks to the efforts of the Flavell family. Unfortunately it had a short life because of the effects of subsidence from local coal mines and closed at the beginning of the 19th century.

A group of Methodists began meeting in a small chapel in Mamble Square, Coseley, which became unsafe due to coal mining. A new chapel was built in the square that could accommodate around 500 people. The first service was held on July 17th, 1853. A school was also built on the site.

Another church became established at Upper Ettingshall, which was visited by a group of Primitive Methodist missioners from Darlaston in the early 1820s. They made a considerable impression upon some of the inhabitants including Thomas Nichols, a miner living in the Big Fold. He opened his house for worship and became a Primitive Methodist with a flourishing congregation. He was born in 1790 and lived in one of two small houses joining the Chapel in Chapel Street, later called Paul Street.

Upper Ettingshall Methodist Church was built on a plot of land covering 174 square yards, on the corner of Paul Street and Upper Ettingshall Road, that was purchased for £19.10s.0d. in 1829. A single storey church was built in 1834. More land was soon acquired and the original church was demolished to make way for a larger church, built in 1850. In 1853, after Thomas Nichols’ death, the two houses joining the church were demolished to make way for a Sunday School.

The church was renovated in the early 1920s after suffering from subsidence caused by coal mining. It closed during the renovation and re-opened in December 1922. In 1924 a pipe organ, built by Mr. Norton of Ocker Hill was installed. In 1986 it was renovated and enlarged. Further additions and alterations included the building of a kitchen in the 1940s; alterations to the choir stalls and the replacement of some of the pews with modern seats, and the installation of a new pulpit in 1957; and the demolition of the caretaker’s house in 1959. The Sunday School has since been extended and new seating and carpets have been fitted in the church.

Hurst Hill Methodist Church was built in 1864 in Gorge Road, Hurst Hill. It survives almost in its original condition, with its gallery, original box pews and plaster ceiling. It is built in vernacular brick classical style with the original schoolroom next door. It was locally listed by Wolverhampton Council in November 2001.

Hurst Hill Methodist Church foundation stone.

Hurst Hill Methodist Church.

The church interior.

The box pews and the gallery.

Anglican Churches

The main Anglican Churches in Coseley all date from the 19th century, because prior to that, local Anglicans worshipped at Sedgley Parish Church, which by the beginning of the 19th century had fallen into a bad state of repair. In 1825, Lord Dudley, who was lord of the manor, gave £2,000 towards the expense of demolishing and rebuilding the church. He also gave a piece of land at Coseley that was to be used for the building of a parish church. In 1826, Lord Dudley offered to rebuild Sedgley church at his own expense, providing the parishioners would “transfer their subscriptions” to the building of the church at Coseley.

Christ Church. From an old postcard.

The cost of building Christ Church, in Church Road, Coseley, was met by the Church Commissioners and public subscriptions. Building work began in 1827, the first stone being laid by Henry Ryder, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, on the 9th August, 1827. Just over three years later the church was consecrated. The ceremony was held on the 27th August, 1830.

The following contemporary newspaper account explains the importance of the church to the locals:

This Chapel, which is a neat and elegant structure of the plain Gothic order, has been erected partly by subscriptions and partly by His Majesty's Commissioners, and is calculated to contain 2,000 people; it is situated in the centre of a dense population, which, from their distance from the Mother Church (Sedgley) have been in a great measure prevented from attending the worship of Almighty God, according to the ritual of the Church of England.

Mr. Rudge opened the organ, a fine old instrument, removed from Wednesbury Church, and greatly improved by Mr. Bishop - the cost of which is to be defrayed by the collections, these amounting in all to £100.

The organ came from St. James’ Church at Wednesbury.

Coseley church was originally a chapel of ease to Sedgley Parish Church, the first curate being the Reverend F. Foreman Clark. In 1832, Coseley became a separate district parish, but was still under the control of the vicar of Sedgley. At this time, the church school was built next to the church, in Church Road, at a cost of £600, mainly paid for by a private individual. Pupils were admitted to the school only on the recommendation of subscribers to the church. The first master was the church’s choir master, Mr. Fieldhouse.

Christ Church.

In 1847, the church’s single bell was replaced by a peal of 8 bells that were hung in the tower. Around the same time, the first stained glass window was installed in the church. In 1866, the chancel was extended by 15 feet, and the organ, which had stood in the west bay, was moved to an open bay on the north side. Choir stalls were also added and the ceiling was panelled.

In 1888, a new wooden floor was fitted and the pew rents were discontinued, so from then-on, it was free to worship in the church. Other subsequent improvements include the erection of the oak chancel screen and the fitting of a new east window in the chancel. Two years later a new organ was installed, which used many parts from the original organ.

Holy Trinity Church, Ettingshall

In 1834, the foundation stone of Holy Trinity Church in Mill Street (now Millfields Road), Ettingshall, was laid. It was built to serve the large population to the north of Sedgley parish. It was a timber-framed building, designed by Robert Ebbels, an architect based in Trysull and Tettenhall Wood. Services were held in the church by 1835. Holy Trinity Parish was constituted in 1841.

It is probable that the church did not have any substantial foundations, which resulted in it being replaced in 1874 by a masonry built church in English Gothic Style, with a nave, chancel, transepts and north aisle. A Sunday School was also built on the western side of the church.

The church was replaced by the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Farrington Road, which was consecrated in 1961. The original site is now occupied by Tarmac.

St. Mary’s Church, Gorge Road, Hurst Hill

St. Mary’s Church, built in 1872, was designed by George Bidlake. It was built at a cost of around £4,000, in local stone, with a nave, a chancel and aisles, and accommodation for approximately 550 people. St. Mary's Parish was formed on December 16th, 1873. The chancel, added in 1882, was designed by Thomas Henry Fleeming of Wolverhampton. The first vicar was Thomas Ridsdel, who remained there until 1892.

The church is now called St. Mary the Virgin and is part of the benefice of Christ Church, Coseley, within the Diocese of Worcester.

St. Chad's Church, Oak Street, Coseley

Christ Church Parish was one of the largest parishes in the area. A mission district was formed in 1879 on the southern side of the parish, with Father George Castriot de Renzi as Mission Priest.

Initially services were conducted in the room of a house in George Street, Swan Village, or in the National Schools at West Coseley. The congregation became parishioners of St. Chad's and formed the nucleus of the congregation when the church was built.

From an old postcard.

Lord Dudley gave a piece of land on which to build a church, along with £1,000 towards the building costs. The remaining money was provided by the Incorporated Church Building Society and the Church Extension Society. The final cost was around £4,000.

The Foundation stone was laid on St. Chad’s Day, 2nd March, 1882 and the church was consecrated on the 28th March, 1883. It became a separate Parish on the 14th April, 1884.

The Church is built of red brick and supported by stone pillars, after the Early English style of Victorian Gothic architecture. It was designed by Thomas Henry Fleeming of Wolverhampton and has a chancel, a nave, north and south aisles, and a porch at the west end. The Lady Chapel lies at the east end of the south aisle and contains the only pillar that is carved. The Church was originally built with a small spire housing a single bell. The choir stalls are from Christ Church and appear to be the ones that were placed there during the 1866 restoration.

In 1896, Lord Dudley gave an adjacent piece of land on which to build the vicarage. The choir vestry was added in 1923 and the organ chamber in 1925. The spire was removed in 1967 and replaced with a bell housing at the west end of the south aisle. The organ is a large instrument, built by Nicholson of Worcester. It was erected by members of the congregation. A memorial east window was added to the chancel, as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the Second World War.

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