A record of wildlife in my garden and various trips to the Warwickshire countryside and occasionally further afield.
"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
Thursday, 8 August 2019
The Parish Church of St James the Great, Shirley
Last weekend family chauffeuring meant I had an hour to spare in Shirley, Solihull. Initially I was going to have a look around Hobbycraft but then I spotted a church and thought I'd look round there rather than being tempted to spend money on items I don't really need!
In the 1830's Shirley was still a relatively small hamlet but Birmingham, which had developed as an important manufacturing centre during and after the Industrial Revolution, was gradually getting closer. At this time Shirley developed a rather disreputable reputation because it was outside the Birmingham boundaries and thus the control of the authorities, Birmingham people found it was a safe place to indulge in prize-fighting, bull-baiting and cock fighting. Therefore, in 1829 the Reverend Archer Clive who had just become Rector of Solihull decided the village urgently need a Chapel of Ease to counteract the unsavoury activities.
In 1831 the Chapel was constructed on the present site and consecrated on 2nd August 1832 by the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry. The chapel consisted of the present nave and tower and a small area at the west end for an altar. It was very unusual for the chancel to be located at the west end as it is usually placed at the east end of the church as this faces Jerusalem. The reason for this is not known - it could be that the builder misread the plan although some have suggested that it was decided to place the altar as far away as possible from The Plume of Feathers Inn just across the road which was noisy and licentious!
On 1st December 1843 the Chapel of Ease was given the status of a parish church. Improvements were made to the church in 1862 with a new roof, heating system and new organ. More alterations occurred in 1882 when unfortunately the triple decker pulpit was removed. During the 1960's and 1990's re-ordering of the interior took place.
Fox and Cubs does seem to like churchyards!
I had only planned to explore the churchyard but then I discovered the church was open. I must admit that usually I am not keen on more recent churches as it is the history of medieval churches that appeals to me but there was actually quite a lot to see in this particular church.
The 1960's chipstone font was originally on a brick plinth but a stone plinth replaced this in 1995.
Stations of the Cross - 14 carvings of the final journey of Jesus Christ. At one time pilgrims would walk along the path that Jesus followed stopping to pray at important places. I don't remember seeing such carvings in a church before - photos of just a few of them.
I would imagine most of the stained glass is Victorian?
The church is dedicated to St James - the Patron Saint of Pilgrims. The decoration on his hat in the photo below is a shell - the scallop shell is one of his symbols and it is believed that pilgrims carried scallop shells to scoop water from streams and brooks to drink as they walked. This shell became the badge of pilgrims who visited the Shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
The West Window in the Chancel
Agnus Dei or Lamb of God - symbol of purity, innocence and sacrifice
St James is holding a pilgrim's staff. He was the first of Jesus's disciples to undertake a missionary journey.
I thought the coloured glass in the porch was really rather lovely.
It was good to see that areas of grass in the churchyard had been left uncut and also ivy was allowed to scramble over older tombs and gravestones.
I found this gravestone interesting as my father served on HMS Indomitable in the Second World War.
All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera
Reference: "The Parish Church of St James the Great, Shirley A History 1832-1992" by Mary Tweddle BA (Hons)
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.