"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Friday, 8 September 2017

An Interesting Church - St Margarets

Heritage Week means there are several churches which, although usually locked, open their doors to visitors over one or more days. One of these is St Margaret's, Ward End, Birmingham, so yesterday afternoon I went along to take a look.

There has been a church on the site since 1517 when a Chapel of Ease linked to SS Peter and Paul, Aston, was built by the Lord of Ward End. It appears the church may have suffered neglect after the Reformation and became derelict. The present church was built in 1834. It closed its doors in 2005 and in 2010 St Margaret's Community Trust was formed and organised a restoration of the building which was completed in September 2014 and cost over £1 million.

The Trust was formed both for the refurbishment and re-development of the old church and to create a multi purpose community centre there to provide care and support for residents of the local area. The Unity Hub is based at the church which includes the main hall and meeting room which are available for public hire and it also offers projects and services to the local community.

The main gate and door to the church looked locked initially so first of all a walk round the small churchyard which has several 19th century graves.

The first burial in the churchyard was Ann Williams - a servant for 5/6 years to the Reverend George Croft whose youngest daughter is buried in the same grave.

A simple wooden cross marks this grave and

on this one a tree has self-seeded.

The door at the side of the tower provided the entry into the church and I was lucky enough to be given a very informative tour. (Sadly there was no sign of cake although I gather from someone who also visited the same day that it was available possibly earlier!).

The church contains two Burne-Jones windows - both from the William Morris school and made in 1902 - Charity and The Good Shepherd.

A window depicting the shepherds' visit to the tables.

Monuments dedicated to the Heath family who are buried in a vault under the church.

Monument to Solomon Bray - the first Clerk of Birmingham - also buried in a vault beneath the church.

Monument for Land Agent John Harris who had associations with the 3rd Lord Calthorpe

The most notable memorial is the William Hutton Memorial. It was installed under instructions in the will of Samuel Hutton - William's great nephew. A few members of the Hutton family are buried in the church vault.

William Hutton was an English poet and historian. He was born in Derby and moved to Birmingham in 1750 where he opened a paper warehouse and published a "History of Birmingham" in the 1780's. His main residence was in Birmingham city centre but he built a country house in Bennett's Hill in nearby Washwood Heath (William would not recognise the area today which has now been totally developed with houses, shops and factories). It is generally believed he was the first person in more modern times to walk the whole length of Hadrian's Wall - in fact he walked to the Wall from Birmingham and back too!

The bust on the monument is believed to be a good likeness of William and the marble books represent some of the books he wrote e.g. History of Birmingham and the History of Derby.

The East Window by Birmingham artist Claude-Price is stunning. It was installed in 1953 and is dedicated (as is the church) to the Holy and Undivided Trinity, The Blessed Virgin Mary and St Margaret of Antioch. The original three East windows were damaged by a bomb during World War 2.

You can see St Margaret's church in this close-up - the deer symbolise a deer park that once surrounded the building.

Window dedicated to St Paul.

Monument in memory of Jesse Bartleet and his wife Sarah. He was a Birmingham solicitor who gave money for bread to be distributed to the poor in the hamlet of Ward End.

Monument dedicated to choristers of the church who lost their lives in World War 2

Monument to Edward and Eliza Tebbutt and their 3 sons.

Royal coat of arms of King William IV and his wife Queen Adelaide.

Many thanks to Keith for the very enjoyable and informative tour of the church.

Reference: Leaflet on the artefacts and monuments within the church.


Bovey Belle said...

A lovely church, with stunning windows. Our eldest daughter mentioned the Heritage weekend, but of course, there is NOTHING in Wales! The closest things are in the Forest of Dean. Ah well. I hope you can find some more places to visit over the weekend with this scheme.

Amanda Peters said...

Lovely church, unusual for a servant of that time to get a mention, don't you think ? There must of really liked her. I like how the wooded cross is now growing. So glad you managed to get in , the windows are stunning and you can see the influence of William Morris, love the window with the leaves, but the blue glass is stunning.
So pleased they have reopened the church, the more I have been looking the more I find closed and empty, changed into houses etc , which I suppose is better than being knocked down and lost forever.
Great post thanks for sharing...
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - Thanks so much. What a shame there are no events in Wales :( I may try and visit another church or go back to Astley Castle. There are an awful lot of things you could do.

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much. Yes, I would have thought it unusual too for a servant to get a gravestone and also be buried with the rector's daughter. Apparently you can look round the church most days as long as you give them a ring and arrange to go when it is not being used for meetings or community events.

Coincidentally, I was talking to the guide yesterday about chapels and churches being converted into houses and saying I wasn't sure if it was a good idea or not. Although as you say better than being knocked down and those that retain interior features can look stunning. There was one for sale on the Isle of Wight that looked lovely - pricey though!!!

Rustic Pumpkin said...

Another lovely post. Here we have a Saint's and Stones trail that runs all year, taking you around quaint churches and standing stones. All fascinating stuff.
Interesting that the vicar's daughter was buried with the servant. They must have thought very highly of her indeed.
Graveyards in Iceland are quite different again. The old ones do not seem to have markers, and often trees are planted on the graves, as part of their pagan roots. Burials are often above ground too, covered over with turf mounds.

Ragged Robin said...

Deborah RusticPumpkin - Thanks so much. I would love to do that Saints and Stones Trail - it sounds absolutely fascinating. Old churches and standing stones - super combination - 2 of my favourite things!

Amazing really the stories that gravestones can tell - would love to know more about the servant. That is very interesting indeed about graves in Iceland - thanks so much for the information :)

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

Greetings from Chester. Glad you enjoyed your visit, looks an amazing place. I like churches.

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

Ragged Robin said...

WordsPoeticallyWorth - Hi Andrew - than you so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

I enjoy visiting churches and looking round them. I went to another one yesterday that was open for Heritage Weekend.

Thanks again. Best wishes Caroline

Rosie said...

What a fascinating church, so many wonderful features and interesting family monuments. The widows are great too especially the Burne-Jones windows to Mr and Mrs Griffiths. Fifty six years is a long time to work for one family, I guess to be buried with a family member she must have been loved and respected:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thank you. Interesting to see so much local history in that particular church although having a guided tour revealed a lot of things I would probably have missed. When I see messages like that on a gravestone it just makes me want to learn more about the people involved.

Midmarsh John said...

Obviously a good vibrant congregation looking after the church. So many beautiful windows - not a cheap item I guess.

Ragged Robin said...

Midmarsh John - Thanks John - they have done a superb job of restoring the church :)