St. Edmund’s Church

The Parish Church of Saint Edmund in Castle Street is known locally as "Bottom Church", whereas St. Thomas's Parish Church, on the hill in High Street, is known as "Top Church". Bottom Church was likely the site of the first church in Dudley because it is dedicated to the Anglo Saxon King and Martyr, Edmund, suggesting that the original church dated from the Anglo Saxon period. Edmund died in 869 or 870, so the church must date from after this time, although the first references to the church are from the twelfth century. At the front of the church are two sculptures showing a metal crown pierced by arrows, referring to Edmund’s martyrdom.


St. Edmund's Church in the late 1940s.

In 1190 the church was in the possession of Dudley Priory, but little is known about the early building because it was demolished during the Civil War. In 1646 the Royalist garrison at Dudley Castle felt isolated and vulnerable, because the King’s last field army had been decimated during the previous year. They knew that their time at the castle was nearly up and so the commanding officer, Thomas Leveson ordered the demolition of the church and possibly much of Castle Street, to deny his enemy any cover. After the demolition, the residents in the parish congregated at St. Thomas's Church, which was repaired and the parishes were united.


The church and part of the churchyard. From an old postcard.

After demolition, the site of St. Edmund’s Church was left empty until about 1720, when the present church appears to have been planned. The reconstruction of the church was paid for by two brothers, Richard and George Bradley and by subscriptions from the parishioners. The brothers were ironmongers, and the sum that each contributed towards the rebuilding is uncertain. George Bradley died without leaving a will. His personal estate was valued at just £60. Richard however was wealthy man, owning a considerable amount of property, in both the Dudley area and in Bristol. There is a tablet dedicated to George Bradley in the church, carrying an inscription stating that George Bradley’s piety and munificence erected this Temple. He died in December 1721 and his brother died in 1722. Bricks near the south west end of the church bear the date 1724, and one of these carries the inscription: "The First Brick laid by John Homer - 1724".

The church had taken much longer to build than was anticipated and was not ready for use until about April 1739. It was built of red brick with stone dressings in Palladian style and consists of a chancel, nave, aisles, south porch, a west tower and a tiled roof. The long chancel and the positions of the few surviving 17th century tombstones in the churchyard, suggest that the foundations of the earlier building were to some extent followed. The name of the architect is unknown, as are the names of anyone involved in the building work. The elaborate design of the lower part of the tower was not continued throughout its construction, possibly because of the great expense this would have entailed.


The interior of the church.

The nave is divided from the aisles by four arches, supported by square pillars. Each aisle is lit by a large round headed window. The galleries were erected early in the 19th century, but were considerably altered in 1864, when the building was restored and wooden tracery was inserted in the aisle windows.


St. Edmund's Church.

At the west ends of both aisles are early 19th century porches. The church still retains its early pews, pulpit and panelled gallery and can seat about 1,000 people.

The church was a chapel of ease to St. Thomas's Church until 1844 when it became a separate parish.

The building is now Grade II* listed. Some of the early registers still exist and are kept at St. Thomas's vicarage. They include baptisms and burials from 1540 to 1544 and 1547 to 1646, and marriages from 1542 to 1544 and 1547 to 1643.

The rebuilding of the church and the forming of the separate parish must have meant a lot to the local community at the time.

Many of Dudley’s leading families were buried in the churchyard, including members of the Amphlett, Dixon, Finch, Hawkes, Sutton and Wainwright families, to name but a few.

Members of the Sutton family buried there include Edward Sutton, 5th Baron Dudley, buried June 24th, 1643: the first two wives of Edward Sutton 4th Baron Dudley; Lady Katherine Brydges Sutton, buried April 28th, 1566 and Lady Jane Stanley Sutton, buried September 4th 1569: also Honora Seymour Sutton, who died in 1620. She was the wife of Ferdinando Sutton.

The Church of St. Thomas and St. Luke

The church sits at the top end of High Street and is known locally as 'Top Church'. It is dedicated to St. Thomas and St. Luke, but was originally dedicated to Thomas Becket, who was Archbishop of Canterbury, until his murder in December 1170. The church was founded around 1182 and in 1190 along with St. Edmund’s Church, was in the possession of Dudley Priory.

In 1648, after the Civil War, when St. Edmund's Church had been demolished, the parish of St. Edmund and the parish of St. Thomas came together and St. Thomas’s Church became the parish church. The church was in need of repair, and so people from both parishes ensured that the work was carried out. From then-on they all went to services at St. Thomas’s. The vicar at the time was Mr. John Taylor who moved into the vicarage in February 1646. When St. Edmund’s Church had been rebuilt in the 1720s and 1730s, it became a chapel of ease to St. Thomas's Church, until 1844 when it again became a separate parish.


The original St. Thomas's Church. From a watercolour by Paul Braddon in about 1812.


The church in the late 1940s.

By the early 19th century, St. Thomas’s Church was in a dilapidated condition and so was rebuilt in 1815 under an Act of Parliament, after the existing building was declared unsafe.

The new church was built at a cost of £12,650, £7,600 of which was raised by subscription and £2,000 was given by the Earl of Dudley. The remainder came from a rate paid by the inhabitants of the town.

The architect was William Brooks. The building was built of Bath stone, and took about three years to complete.

It consists of a shallow chancel, a nave and aisles, and a west tower with spire and porches at the east end. The alter is made of marble, in the shape of a tomb and the tower contains a fine peal of ten bells, cast by Thomas Mears of London in 1818.

On the east window of the chancel is a striking golden brown depiction of the ascension by Joseph Blackler of Stourbridge, produced in 1821.


The interior. From an old postcard.

On the 7th September, 1940, the Luftwaffe dropped a bomb opposite the front of the church, which blew-out most of the windows and left the shrapnel damage that can still be seen today.

The church is in the Anglican Diocese of Worcester, and the St. Thomas & St. Luke Ecclesiastical Parish. The building is Grade II* listed.

By 2017 the future of the church was uncertain because of the decline in the congregation and the building was placed on the ‘at risk’ register.

The Church Commissioners approved a grant of £2.5m over a seven year period from 2018 and the National Lottery Fund donated £106,000 towards the conservation work.

The old pews were removed from the church in favour of chairs. New additions include a crèche area and a tea and coffee area, separated from the main space by a wood and glass partition, new toilets and improvements to the church’s second entrance for wheelchair users and parents with prams and pushchairs.


From an old postcard.

St. James’s Church, Wolverhampton Street, Eve Hill.

The Anglican church was built in 1840 in the early English style, on land given by Lord Ward, the Earl of Dudley. It was built at a cost of £3,500 and designed by William Bourne. The builder was John Holland. The church, consists of a nave, aisles, a chancel and a lofty west tower with a pair of tall lancet windows in each wall of the upper storey. It is built of a light creamy-yellow Jurassic limestone, called Caen stone and had an organ on the south side of the chancel, made by Messrs Gray & Davison. As built it could seat around 1,000 people, although that number has now been reduced.


St. James’s Church.

In 1868 to 69 restoration work and improvements were carried out at the cost £1770. Improvements included the building of galleries and the rebuilding of the organ by E. J. Bossward and Sons. A font was given by the vicar of Dudley, the Rev. James Caulfield Browne, and a stained glass window depicting St. James was installed in the triple light east window in the chancel. It is named after Dudley Priory, which was also dedicated to St. James.

The church was built as a sister church to St. John’s at Kate's Hill which were both originally chapels of ease to St. Thomas’s Church.  Both churches were dedicated by the Bishop of Worcester in July 1840. St. James became a parish in its own right on the 15th October, 1844.

The cost of the upkeep of the pipe organ became prohibitive and so an electronic organ has taken its place. On the 11th March, 1996 the building was Grade II listed.

St. John's Church, St. Johns Road, Kate's Hill

St. John's Church was built at the same time as its sister church, St. James’s at Eve Hill. The two churches were constructed to a similar design by William Bourne and both built by John Holland. It was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist.

St. John's Church is built of courses of ironstone rubble with Gornal sandstone dressings and has a slate roof. It has a nave with north and south aisles and galleries lit by lancet windows, a chancel, a vestry, a west tower and an organ chamber. There are staircases to the galleries on either side of the tower, which originally had a parapet with battlements, which was later replaced by a plain parapet.

Substantial additions and alterations were made by Davies and Middleton in 1872 to 73 including the arcade of stone piers supporting the clerestory. In 1888 stained glass was added to the east window along with the lateral lancets and the wrought iron screen. In 1905, carved figures of the evangelists were added, along with the font.


St. John's Church.

William Perry, known as 'The Tipton Slasher' is buried in the churchyard, as is Mary Ann Mason, murdered by 1858 by Joseph Meadows, who was hanged in Worcester jail. There are also eleven commonwealth graves from the First World War and graves of several significant figures from the Black Country's past.

The church greatly benefited from an increase in the local population due to the large number of council houses that were built for workers employed in local industries and their families.

By the beginning of the century, the church was desperately in need of restoration work. It closed in 2002 on safety grounds.

After the closure, "St John's Church Preservation Group" was formed to campaign for the repair and reopening of the church. The building was Grade II listed on the 21st May, 2009 and the preservation group became leaseholders of the church on the 27th July, 2016.

In August of that year it opened to the public for the first time since 2002 and it was announced that the building would open daily from September to allow visitors to see the restoration work taking place. The first service for 15 years was held on the 27th July, 2018 and it was hoped that six Anglican services could be held each year, with plans to create a visitor centre, a cafe, a gift shop and hold costumed guided tours. The graveyard has also been developed as a nature reserve, with trails, pools and a community orchard.

St. Luke’s Church, Wellington Road

St. Luke’s Church was formed from part of St. Thomas’s Parish to meet the growing demand from the increasing population. It was built of red brick in Wellington Road, on the corner of Westley Street and opened in 1876. The building consisted of a chancel, a south vestry with an organ chamber, a nave and north and south aisles.

By the 1960s the congregation had greatly reduced in number. In 1969, St. Thomas's Parish became the Parish of St. Thomas & St. Luke and the number of worshippers continued to decline. The church closed on the 2nd May, 1972 and was demolished in 1973.


St. Luke’s Church.

 

The Church of St. Andrew

 

 

 

 

St. Andrew’s Church, Hill Street, Netherton, was built in 1830 on land given by the Earl of Dudley.

It is stone-built in 13th-century style and consists of a chancel, a nave, aisles and a tower with battlements and pinnacles.

It was formed from part of the parish of St. Thomas with two chapels of ease; St. Peter's at Darby End and St. Barnabas at Dudley Wood.


St. Andrew’s Church.

Our Blessed Lady and St Thomas of Canterbury

Catholics in the town are served by the church dedicated to Our Blessed Lady and St Thomas of Canterbury, situated in St Joseph Street. The church, built in 1842 was designed by Augustus Pugin, and built of local stone in early English style. It consists of a nave, aisles, a chancel and a south porch and was registered for marriages in 1847. It is Grade II listed.


The church of Our Blessed Lady and St Thomas of Canterbury.

Dudley Baptist Church

Dudley Baptist Church was founded in 1777 in New Street, on the corner of Tower Street and enlarged in 1838. In the mid 19th century, around 200 attended the church’s Sunday school. Several prominent Dudley people worshipped there including members of the Finch and Parsons families.


The original church in New Street.


The later church in Priory Road.

In the 1930s New Street was widened, which resulted in the demolition of the original church. A new site was obtained in Priory Road and until the new church could open, services were held in the Castle cinema, in High Street.

The new church opened in 1937. An unsuccessful attempt was made to attract people from the new houses in the Priory Estate to the church, but around 100 children regularly attended classes in the church’s Sunday school.

All Saints’ Church

All Saints’ Parish Church, in Vicar Street, Sedgley, was built in the late 1820s to replace a much smaller medieval, red sandstone church. The new church was paid for by Viscount Dudley and designed by Thomas Lee in the Gothic decorated style.

It is built of Gornal stone and retains part of the old tower within the new. The foundation stone was laid on the 9th September, 1826 and the building opened in 1829.

It consists of a central nave with two side isles and a tower with a peel of eight bells. The organ had previously been installed in Westminster Abbey and was used during the coronation of King George IV. It originally could seat 1309 people, but in the 1870s this was reduced to 850.

All Saints’ Parish was later divided into five ecclesiastical districts, Sedgley, Lower Gornal, Upper Gornal, Ettingshall, and Coseley.

The entrance was redesigned in 2003 when solid outer doors were added, leading into the old porch.

Other additions in 2005 include a kitchen at the rear of the north transept and the removal  of some of the pews from the back of the church to create an area for social activities.

Many organisations use the church, including the Noah’s Ark Toddler Group, the Mothers’ Union, the Men’s Society, the Ladies Society and a Youth Group, to name just a few.


All Saints’ Church.


Another view of All Saints’ Church.

Holy Trinity Church, Amblecote

Amblecote Parish Church of the Holy Trinity, in High Street, was built in 1841 and 1842 and consecrated in November 1844. The Earl of Stamford and Warrington gave two acres of land and £300 towards the building of the church together with an annual endowment of £100. The church is built of bricks, faced with yellow fire bricks, made by William King and Company at the Withymoor brickworks. The first stone was laid by James Foster at a ceremony on the 7th August, 1841. The church still has the original iron railings around the site that were given by James Foster. Amblecote became a separate parish in 1845 and the Organ, built by J. Nicholson, was installed in 1849. The clock was fitted in the tower in 1852 and in 1856 the east window was installed in memory of James Foster.


From an old postcard.

St. Michael’s Church

St. Michael’s Church, in Church Hill, off Church Street, Brierley Hill was built by public subscription in about 1765 as a chapel of ease. It consists of a west tower with a porch, a nave with galleries, shallow north and south transepts, a chancel, and a south east vestry.

It was built of red brick and enlarged in 1823 when transepts were added. It was again enlarged in 1837. Much of the church was rebuilt in 1900 when the chancel was extended. At the same time the tower was strengthened and re-cased in new brick. The interior was restored in 1994 when the north aisle was converted into side rooms and the choir vestry was converted into a kitchen. The building is Grade II listed.


St. Michael’s Church. From an old postcard.

Providence Chapel

A well-known chapel in the Black Country is Providence Chapel, from Northfield Road, Darby End, now in the village at the Black Country Living Museum. It opened on the 29th January, 1837 and was part of the Methodist New Connexion, formed 1797. There were also Methodist New Connexion chapels in Wolverhampton Street, Brown Street, Kate's Hill and at Holly Hall. The chapel closed in 1975 and was rebuilt at the museum in 1977.


Providence Chapel, at the museum on a snowy day.


The interior of the chapel.


Another view of the chapel.

Wesley Methodist Chapel

Wesley Methodist Chapel, Wolverhampton Street, was built in 1828 and 1829, and later defected to the Methodist New Connexion. It stood on an elevated site, with a burial ground at the front. The last service was held at the church on the 28th October, 1973. It was then demolished and replaced by the new Central Methodist Church which opened in 1978. There were also Wesleyan chapels in King Street, Salop Street, and Woodside.


From an old postcard.

The New Connexion Chapel that stood in High Street, Woodside. It was known as Mount Zion.


Independent Chapel, King Street.

The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion acquired a piece of land in King Street (then called Back Lane) in April 1788 and built the chapel on the left. It stood to the west of the junction with New Mill Street, but attracted few worshippers and was not a success. At the time there was dispute at the Protestant Dissenter's Church, The Old Meeting House in Wolverhampton Street. Some of the worshippers acquired King Street Chapel which then became a Congregational or Independent Church. By 1800 there was a sizeable congregation and the building was extended several times. It was then decided that a much larger building was needed and so an adjacent piece of land was acquired and the chapel on the right was built. The foundation stone was laid on the 21st May, 1839 and the church opened in 1841. It could seat around 1,200 people. Although the chapel has been demolished, the graveyard still remains.

The Old Meeting House in Wolverhampton Street was built in 1717.

It is the oldest existing building, used as a place of worship in Dudley. The other old churches have all been rebuilt.


Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, King Street. The chapel was built of brick, between 1788 and 1790 and considerably altered in 1818. It was on the southern side of King Street, to the west of the Independent Chapel.

St. Luke’s Church, Cradley Heath

St. Luke’s Parish Church stood in Upper High Street, Cradley Heath. St. Luke’s Parish was founded in 1843 and the parish church was built. It was consecrated in February 1847 and was built of red sandstone in the early English style. It consisted of a nave, transepts, a chancel, a south porch and a turret with one bell. An apse was added in 1874 to 1875 when the interior was rearranged.

By the early 2,000s the church was badly in need of restoration at an estimated cost of £750,000 which was impossible to raise. The church closed in October 2014 and the congregation moved to St. John's Church, in Dudley Wood. The church was demolished in October and November, 2016.


St. Luke's Church. From an old postcard.


Another view of St. Luke's Church.

St. James the Great Church, Lower Gornal


St. James the Great Church. From an old postcard.

St. James the Great Church, Church Street, Lower Gornal is an Anglican church, built in 1815 on a piece of land given by Viscount Dudley and Ward.

It opened in 1817 and was consecrated in 1823.

After enlarging in 1837, it could seat 700 people.

It is built of stone in Early English style and consists of a chancel, a nave, aisles, a north porch and a tower containing one bell.

In 1849 it was refitted and the chancel and stained glass windows were added.

Christ Church, Quarry Bank

Christ Church, High Street, Quarry Bank is a parish church serving Quarry Bank Parish, founded in 1844. It was built in 1847 at a cost of £3,000 and designed by Thomas Smith of Stourbridge. It is built of yellow brick in the Early English style and has a western turret with a single bell. In 1897 the chancel was added at a cost of £750.


From an old postcard.

St. Giles' Church, Rowley Regis

St. Giles' Church, Church Road, Rowley Regis was built on the site of two earlier churches, the first dating back to the 12th century. This was rebuilt in 1840, but in the building became unsafe and in 1900 was condemned. In 1904, the church shown below was built, but it had a very short life. On the 18th June, 1913 the building was badly damaged in a fire, sometimes believed to have been started by suffragettes or striking steelworkers. It was probably just an accident, possibly caused by the paraffin lamps that were used at the time. In 1923 the current church was built, to the design of Holland W. Hobbiss and A. S. Dixon.


From an old postcard.

St. Chad and All Saints Church, Sedgley

The first Catholic church at Sedgley opened in 1789 and was dedicated to St. George. In 1821, an acre of land was acquired alongside Dudley Road and Catholic Lane, and money was raised for the building of a new church. The new church, dedicated to All Saints opened for worship on the 24th August, 1823. In 1837 two school rooms were built on the site.

There were many debts to be paid and so the church was not consecrated until 1891, after the debts had paid off. In 1890 a new alter was built and on the 2nd September, 1891, the church was dedicated to St. Chad and All Saints. In 1902 a heating system was installed and in 1908 repairs were carried out to the organ. At the same time the church was redecorated. In 1914 two stained glass windows were installed in the church and in 1923 more pews were added.


St. Chad and All Saints Church. From an old postcard.

Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Gornal Wood

The Wesleyan Chapel was built on Himley Road, Gornal Wood in 1827 to replace an earlier Wesleyan Chapel built nearby.

The chapel became part of the Methodist New Connexion, which later established the Methodist New Connexion Church in Zoar Street.

The foundation stone of the chapel was laid on the 5th August, 1895, and the chapel opened on the 5th December of the same year.

It was built by Mr. J. E. Buxton of Lower Gornal, at a cost of £2,000 including the land and could seat 450 people. It is now Himley Road Methodist Church.


From an old postcard.


From an old postcard.


An interior view. Also from an old postcard.

 

Christ Church, Lye

 

 

 

 

Christ Church, High Street, Lye, the local parish church, was built in 1843 as a chapel of ease to Oldswinford and later became a separate parish.

It is built of red bricks at the back of a small square off Lye High Street and was founded by local glassmaker, Thomas Hill.

The nearby church of St. Mark, Stambermill, closed in 1985 and the two parishes were amalgamated to form the Parish of Lye, Christchurch and Stambermill.

In 2014 a daughter church, the Brickworks Church, was started using several venues in the west part of the parish.


Christ Church, Lye. From an old postcard.


Another view of Christ Church, Lye. Also from an old postcard.

St. Augustine’s Church

The parish church of Holly Hall Parish, St. Augustine’s Church, Stourbridge Road, Holly Hall, was built in 1884 to serve the increasing population in Holly Hall and Woodside. The red brick building with stone dressings was designed by H. Drinkwater of Oxford, in a free Gothic style and consists of a chancel with an organ chamber, a vestry, a nave, north and south aisles, porches and a baptistery.


From an old postcard.


St. Augustine’s Church.

St. Mary’s Church, Kingswinford

St. Mary’s Parish Church, The Village, off Dudley Road, Kingswinford was built in the 1830s-40s on the site of an earlier church which had to be demolished due to subsidence. The tower is the only part of the earlier church that remains. The new church opened in 1846 and was Grade II listed on the 14th June, 1951.


From an old postcard.

 

Cradley Heath Baptist Church, Corngreaves Road

 

 

 

The foundation stone of Cradley Heath Baptist Church, in Corngreaves Road, was laid in 1904.

The church is built of red brick with terracotta dressings and has a nave with a gallery, an ornamental tower with a slated spire and an elaborate bell stage.

It has a two-manual pipe organ and was Grade II listed on the 29th September, 1987.


Cradley Heath Baptist Church.

St. Michael and all Angels, Himley

The Parish Church of St. Michael and all Angels, Dudley Road, Himley, which stands near Himley Hall, was built in 1764, by the first Lord Dudley and Ward. The more recent Earls of Dudley are buried in a private burial ground behind the church.

The church is built of brick and is cement rendered, with a plain tile roof. There is a west tower and a two bay nave, a single bay chancel and a vestry. The interior is panelled, with a curved west gallery on slim iron columns. There is a stone font, an 18th century wooden pulpit, and a brass angel lectern, dating from 1894. There is also a monument to Viscountess Ednam. The building was Grade II listed on the 27th June, 1963.


From an old postcard.

There have been many other churches and chapels in Dudley for all kinds of religious groups and denominations, including the Christadelphians, the Congregationalists, the Latter Day Saints, the Plymouth Brethren, the Presbyterians, the Salvation Army, the Society of Friends, the Unitarians, and the United Methodists, to name but a few.


   
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