ST PETER'S

“Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church”



Hark ; the Cradley Bells are ringing
Sounding sweetly down the Vale
In the lofty Belfry swinging
For they float upon the gale.


Others, perhaps, may sound far louder
Noisy, clanging, boisterous bells ;
The thought of size may make them prouder.
Not so sweet as Cradley Bells.


When along the breeze they quiver
With their notes so true and clear
Pleased, they say across the river:
“Hark, the Cradley Bells I hear.”


Neighbours, too, are often telling
How upon a summer's day
Cradley Bells so sweetly swelling
May be heard for miles away.
York may boast its mighty Peter,
Tom is Oxford's talk and pride,
But the Cradley Bells are sweeter,
Sweetest on the riverside.


Eight Sweet Bells in Cradley Steeple
Wing their music on the air
Hasten hither, all ye people,
Hasten to the House of Prayer.


Hear us always loudly saying
Come from earthly care away
Come where all good Christians praying,
Joyful keep God's Holy Day.


You on whom sad cares are pressing ;
You who toil the week around
Come, and earn a Heavenly Blessing
Come, for this is Holy Ground.
THE CRADLEY CHURCH BELLS, S. PETERS1
written by Joseph Bissell for the re-opening of St Peter's after the 1874-1875 restoration




East Meets West     There is a tiny clue to the turbulent origins of St. Peter's in the orientation of the chancel2. Conventionally, the chancels of churches of the Established Church of England3 face due east, but that of St Peter's faces west.

The reason for this architectural oddity is that St Peter's was built not by followers of the Church of England, but rather by a group of Dissenters who gathered together to form the Independent Congregational Society.

To be pedantically correct, when referring to the church in its early days we should call it "Cradley Chapel", for it did not become St Peter's until June 29, 1898.



Thomas Best    Thomas Best was born in Stourbridge in about 1760. He was originally an adherent of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion4, which was of Wesleyan and Calvinist persuasion and had seceded from the Church of England in 1782.



The Rev. Thomas Best
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 The Rev. Thomas Best 
Best first visited Cradley in 1783 while still a student of divinity, preaching in the street as John Wesley (1703-91, founder of the Methodist Church) had done.

After his ordination in 1784 by the chaplains to the Countess of Huntingdon, Best returned to live in Cradley. A society was soon formed, meeting in a room which Jno. Parry made available in his home.

As membership grew, the society borrowed the Wesleyan chapel in Butcher's Lane, which it purchased in 1786. Pews and galleries were built, and the seating capacity increased to 300 people.


In August 1787, the society covenanted to form the Independent Congregational Society. Best left the Countess of Huntingdon, and became the society's pastor. The first deacons were Joseph Fellowes, Thos. Franks, Edward Stead and Mark Stevens.

A school (the only one in Cradley at that time) was erected near the chapel. Apart from accepting fee-paying students, it provided free places for 30 boys and 30 girls.

The Cradley Minute Book records:

By this time the congregation was much increased and we hope good was done and it was much wished the meeting house might be enlarged - This upon examination was found impracticable - The next thing was to think of building a new place upon a larger scale and in a better situation ...5

In 1789 a trust was formed, and land at the current location of St Peter's was purchased by Best for 200 from John and Elia Parry.

The Butcher's Lane building was demolished, and the bricks carted up the hill to form the foundations of the new chapel. "Cradley Chapel" was opened for public worship in 1791.

The Rev. James Scott wrote of the new chapel:

This chapel is delightfully situated on the declivity of a hill just above the village of Cradley ... it commands an extensive prospect on the South and East, and has a convenient burial ground. Close adjoining is a spacious and elegant building erected for the accommodation of two charity schools in which 50 boys and 50 girls are educated free of expense to their Parents. These Schools are supported by a collection made after an annual sermon preached for their benefit, and also by a private subscription.6

However, dark clouds were soon to form over the Congregational Society.



The Pepperpot    The bell tower of today's St Peter's is not the original. Cradley Chapel was somewhat round in design, and the curiously domed shape of the original bell tower gave rise to the irreverent but rather apt name, “the pepperpot”.



The Architect    The architect of Cradley Chapel lies near the top entrance gates to the church. A stone inscription reads

Mark Jones, who died 4 August 1833, aged 85 years, Architect of this chapel when erected in 17897

We might remember the words on Wren's tomb in St. Paul's Cathedral: “Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice” - “Reader, if you seek his memorial, look all around you”.



Inside the old church    In the old building were two box pews near to the Communion Table, one reserved for the parents and family of Thomas Homer, Solicitor, and the other kept for the staff of the New British Iron Co., then the largest employers in the district, whose works were about half a mile from the Church. There were two other box pews in the body of the Church, one occupied by Mr Noah Hingley and family and the other reserved for the use of Mr and Mrs Henry Hipkiss and family.

Baptismal font at St Peter\'s (photo Sue Haylett)
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 Baptismal font at St Peter's (photo Sue Haylett) 


The Best-laid plans    The Society had over-extended itself financially. Rev. James Scott lays the blame at the feet of one Mr Wm. Wesley of Birmingham, who

... issued out bills at discount, which were endorsed by honest and well meaning persons relying on his then acknowledged responsibility. This person however becoming a Bankrupt it was found necessary to keep these bills in circulation, by aid of the neighbouring Bankers [...] to preserve the endorsers from ruin.8

The Society faced a catastrophe that threatened not only its own survival, but also the destruction of the financial standing and reputation of many local people, with horrendous impact on the local economy.

It appears that Best may have had reason to believe that Parliament would rescue the Society, if only it were to conform to the Church of England, for we read:

... there is reason to conclude that this extensive and important object [discharging the debt on the buildings] will be attended to by Members of Parliament who are friends of the undertaking, but who would be more so were it strictly connected with the Established Church9

and later:

Expectations were once entertained that Parliament would have rendered some assistance ...10

Thomas Best now took a fateful decision, which was to shock many of his followers.



Best conforms to the Established Church    In May 1798 a petition was presented to the Bishops of Worcestershire:

that the Place of Worship situated in Cradley ... should be taken into the established Church ... and ... that Mr T. Best the present minister intends ... that he may be able to serve this Chapel according to the laws of the Church of England ...11

The petition was accepted: Best had “gone over” to the Church of England, and the Independent Society was dissolved.

Some of Best's followers were shocked, and there was some bitterness; we read in the Seat Rent Book of what later became the Cradley Baptist Church:

Cradley III 3rd May 1798. To the great surprise of the inhabitants an handbill was displayed informing the congregation and seat holders of the Independant Chapel that by Order of the Bishop of Worcester publick worship in that Chapel was suspended Certain Alterations being needful before the Consecration and with Mr. Bests request that the seat holders if whold meanwhile attend thier Parish Churches thus they who were Dessenters and had with satisfaction and thankfulness attended under the ministry of Mr. Best found themselves Deserted by him and deprived of thier place of Worship without thier consent thus left destitute a large congregation was dispersed as sheep having no shepherd ...12

We cannot now know what crises of conscience Best underwent. A cruel view would be that he sacrificed his principles; a more generous view is that he took the only path available to him that would save both his church and the honour of those who, trusting in him, faced ruin.

St Peter\'s Church (photo Sue Haylett)
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 St Peter's Church (photo Sue Haylett) 




Deed of Consecration, 1798    Frank Stevens writes:

The original is missing, but a copy of the “Sentence of Consecration”, as it is termed was supplied by the Bishop's Registry, Worcester, to the Rev. C.W. Simons, Incumbent on May 12, 1855, at his request, and this is now in the church safes. The date of this document, September 12, 1798 corresponds with the date of Consecration and states, inter alia, that the Hamlet or Village of Cradley is a distinct Village or Township maintaining its own poor, is distant from this Town and Church of Hales Owen about two miles, is very populous and contains 1500 inhabitants ; that it is very inconvenient to the inhabitants of the said Village or Hamlet of Cradley to attend Divine Service at the Parish Church of Hales Owen, especially in the Winter season ; the said Thomas Best some time since having considered the advantage and inconvenience of the inhabitants of the said Village or Hamlet of Cradley and being extremely desirous that they should have the consolation of religious instruction and the benefit of Divine Service near to their own habitations did by his repeated solicitations to opulent and well disposed persons raise a very considerable sum of money and therewith did purchase a piece or parcel of ground (position described) and upon the said piece or parcel of ground the said Thomas Best hath caused to be erected and built a very handsome and commodious Chapel and Chancel with a decent Pulpit and Reading Desk, a Font and Communion Table and hath seated and pewed the same in all respects similar to other Churches in the Establishment of the Church of England ...13



Cradley Chapel forever? The Sentence of Consecration also decrees:

And We call it by the name Cradley Chapel and decree that it shall be so called and named in all future times for ever.14

However, as we shall see, “all future times for ever” lasted only until 1898.



Act of Parliament, 1799    Legally, the R. Hon. William Henry Lord Lyttleton, as Patron of Halesowen, and the Rev. William Sutton as the Rector of Halesowen, had the right of Patronage or Presentation of or to the new Church of England chapel.

Perhaps to assist Best to raise funds against the building, and because

Thomas Best, Clerk and divers other pious and well-disposed Persons by or from voluntary contributions collected for that purpose, and by monies raised and borrowed upon their security, have erected a Chapel ...15

or perhaps because the legal owners feared having a financial millstone placed around their necks, a special Act of Parliament (39 Geo. III. 1799) was passed on 12 July 1799, transferring the rights of Presentation for three “turns” (appointments), to Best, and also setting out matters concerning fees, marriages, churchings, chapel wardens and rates.

RIGHT OF PATRONAGE FOR THREE TURNS

And be it enacted

That the Advowson, Right of Patronage, free Disposition, Nomination and Presentation, of in, and to the said new Chapel shall, immediately after the passing of the Act appertain to and the same are hereby absolutely vested in and settled upon the said Thomas Best, his Executors, Administrators and Assigns, for Three Turns or Presentations if the same shall happen within the space or term of Ninety-nine years from the passing of this Act, freed and absolutely acquitted and released, during the Term of Years aforesaid, from and against all Estates, Interests, Claims and Demands whatsoever, of the said William Henry Lord Lyttleton and his Heirs, and the said William Sutton, and all Persons claiming or to claim by, from, or under them, or either of them ; and from and after such Three Turns or Presentations of the said Thomas Best, his Executors, Administrators or Assigns as aforesaid, the said Advowson, Right of Patronage, free Disposition, Nomination and Presentation of and in the said Chapel, shall appertain to and the same are hereby absolutely vested in the said William Henry Lord Lyttleton, his Heirs and Assigns, for ever.16



Chapel Wardens    Under the Act, Chapel Wardens were to be appointed on Easter Monday of each year, one (the Vicar's Warden) to be chosen by the Incumbent, and the other (the People's Warden) “by the major Part of the Inhabitants so assembled”.

And every Person to to be appointed and chosen as aforesaid shall, and they are hereby required to accept and take upon them the office of Chapel Wardens as aforesaid, upon Pain that every Person or Persons so appointed, and neglecting or refusing to accept or execute the said office (not being a Second Time, contrary to his or their inclination, appointed thereto within the Space of Ten Years), shall forfeit and pay to the last preceding Chapel Wardens the sum of Five Pounds, to be recovered by them by Action of Debt in any of his Majesty's Courts of Record at Westminster together with Double Costs of Suit to be applied towards the Repars and Support of the said Chapel17

Perhaps the office of Warden was an unpopular job! Frank Stevens notes:

As this special Act of Parliament was never repealed, it looks as though the above penalties could still be legally enforced.18



The first trustees    The first Clerk and Sexton was Benjamin Fiddian, and the Trustees appointed to carry out the conditions of the 1799 Act of Parliament were19 :-

Lord Lyttleton
Rev. W. Sutton
Rev. John Wyland
Christopher Stevenson
Thomas Biggs
Richard Brettell
John Townshend
Samuel Hunt
Thomas Siddaway
James Siddaway
James Attwood
Mathias Attwood
Aaron Attwood
John Cardale
Samuel Hammond Thomas Beelby
Henry Kempson
Thomas Meredith
Thomas Allchurch
Noah Brettell


The qualification for Trusteeship was that in the preceding Assessment for the Poor, they should be rated at not less than ten pounds per annum.



Back to school    Best was sent to study at St Edmund's Hall, Oxford, presumably to ensure and prove that his conversion to the Church of England was complete. During his absence, the Rev. C. Stephenson of Rowley and the minister of St Mary's Birmingham officiated at Cradley Chapel.

Best took deacon's and priest's orders, and was episcopally ordained by the Bishop of Llandaffin March 1799, thus becoming the first perpetual curate of Cradley.



Financial problems continue, 1800    By the end of the 18th century, there were some 200 attendees at Cradley Chapel.

But Best was still beset by financial problems. It appears that he may have been personally liable for the debt on the buildings to some extent - perhaps he had made guarantees in his own name, for Rev. James Scott records in 1800:

That the Presentation now vested in Mr. Best for 99 years, is to be conveyed by him to six or more Ministers, and six or more Laymen of the established Church, and to subscribers of 100 and upwards, and to Creditors who shall relinquish that sum of upwards of their respective debts ... That a general Release to Mr Best shall be executed by the Creditors, and their respective debts be paid without interest, by 10 equal installments of 10 per cent, at the end of every three months ...20



Fees    Charges for marriages (“churchings”) and burials apparently created some friction between Cradley Chapel and the Mother Church at Hales Owen, as such fees were split between the two incumbents and their respective Clerks.

Fees in 1802 were 10s in all for marriage by Banns, and 15s for marriage by Licence.

On June 25th 1805, in order to reduce the number of middlemen, it was decided between Rev. Thomas Best and Rev. George Biggs, the Cure of Hales Owen, that

Agreed that no charge whatever be made for Baptisms in Cradley Chapel, but that the fees for Churching of women shall be paid as usual, viz., if demanded by the Curate of Cradley :

To the Vicar of Halesowen ... 6d
To the Curate of Cradley ... 6d21

Note the qualifying “if demanded”. It seems that Best exercised some discretion for the poor and indigent.

On June 11th 1811 the issue of fees seems to have come to a crisis, for we find Best declaring in terse and blunt words something perilously close to a strike:

The fees of the Parish Church having been raised, the expense prevents Marriages at Cradley.

Signed by THOMAS BEST, Perpetual Curate
  WILLIAM BOURNE } Chapel
  NOAH BRETTELL} Wardens
  JOHN JONES, Acting Overseer22



Death of Thomas Best    Best and his wife Mary, who had ten children, lived at Colley Gate House. He died on July 25, 1821 at the age of 61 and was buried in the chancel of the church that he had created and dedicated his life to.

His son Thomas Best also took Holy Orders. His signature appears against baptisms in Cradley Chapel in August and September 1813, and again in November and December of 1820, perhaps due to an illness of his father, who died some six months later.



Cradley Chapel becomes The Parish Church    By an Order in Council of 11 August 1841, Cradley became a separate ecclesiastical Parish:

It is proposed that the said Township or Chapelry of Cradley shall be separated from the Parish of Halesowen and constituted a separate parish or benefice for ecclesiastical purposed and the said Chapel of Cradley shall be the Parish Church of the said Parish.23



The Restoration of 1874-75    The first restoration and refurbishment of the church (the second began in 1933) took place in 1874-75 under the Rev. James Hesselgrave Thompson.

The Revd. James Hesselgrave Thompson
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 The Revd. James Hesselgrave Thompson 


Probably due to financial problems, the restoration work proceeded slowly. The Church had no roof during the winter of 1874-5, and was closed from the summer of 1874 until the re-opening in October 1875.

St Peter\'s tower
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 St Peter's tower 


The old bell tower was replaced, built by Mr. William Nelson, Dudley (1400) and Mr. Isaac P. Bloomer, of Cradley (1700). Frank Stevens writes:

We must not forget the erection of the imposing Tower and land-mark, which gave some measure of dignity and support to the old round Church.24

... which may suggest some sensitivity about the “pepperpot”.

The belfry at St Peter\'s
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 The belfry at St Peter's 


The old bell was sold for a not insubstantial 25. Mrs James Wood Aston of The Elms, Cradley, donated a new peal of eight bells costing 610, as well as a new 400 organ, in memory of her late husband. She died on March 24, 1875 without ever having heard them ring.

Frank Stevens makes particular mention of the Hingley family's generosity:

We must pay tribute to the benefactions of the Hingley family who then resided in the Parish.

There was the father, Mr Noah Hingley, of Hatherton Lodge, who was Vicar's Warden in 1860, and his three sons, Mr. Benjamin Hingley, Mr. Joseph Hingley and Mr. Samuel Hingley, whose several donations are not known, but the second donation of Noah Hingley & Sons, the world-renowned Iron Makers of Netherton, near Dudley, was 350, whilst they also gave the cost of re-pewing and new-flooring the body of the Church, amounting to 406, and Mr. Noah Hingley was responsible for the Chancel Window, costing 54 (representing the Feast of Pentecost) in memory of his late wife, Anne Linton Hingley, and which has been removed in 1933 to a position over the Clergy Vestry.25

The Church was re-opened on October 13, 1875. Frank Stevens records:

It is said to have been a day of jubilation in the parish, and the expenses incurred at the Opening Services, are admitted to have been not less than 16.26



Cradley Chapel becomes St Peter's, 1898    Unusually, Cradley Chapel had no Patron Saint.

The Rev. C.W. Simons had in 1855 noted this omission from a perusal of the Bishop's Registry at Worcester.

In 1898 the Rev. Robert Henry Edmondson wrote in a circular to his parishioners:

... the subject appears to have been dropped until about 7 years ago when Mr. Timbrell again enquired what the name of the church was.27

On June 29, 1898, Cradley Chapel at last became St Peter's. A sermon was preached by the Bishop of Worcester taken from the words of Matthew 16:17: “Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church”.



The Vicarage, 1899    The Vicarage was built by J.F. Bloomer in 1898/9 at a cost of 3,500 in Colley Gate, adjacent to Colley Gate House where Thomas Best had lived 80 years previously.



The Restoration of 1933    By 1933, the effects of subsidence caused by mining had severely affected the church. Cracks in the floor up to 4 inches wide and stretching the length of the church had appeared, and the bell tower was up to 16 inches out of line from base to summit.

The front area of St Peter\'s
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 The front area of St Peter's 


Entrances were made at the two sides of the Church, the foundations were strengthened, and beds of concrete laid in the floors. The bell tower's turret was removed, and the tower repaired. A gift of 400 yards of land was made by Messrs. E.J. & J. Pearson.



The Burial Ground    Although the first building - the Meeting House - was erected in 1789, the register of Baptisms and Burials commences in 1785, 4 years previously.

The land first used for burials lies in a hilly area on the north side of the church.

Looking west from St Peter\'s tower, over the roof of the church and onto the old churchyard, with Lyde Green in the middle distance
 Looking west from St Peter's tower, over the roof of the church and onto the old churchyard, with Lyde Green in the middle distance 


Graves at St Peter\'s
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 Graves at St Peter's 


The burial ground was extended in 1840, and again in about 1868 with an area on the south side of the church between the building and the boundary wall.



View of the churchyard from the tower of St. Peter\'s
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 View of the churchyard from the tower of St. Peter's 


By 1882, a further extension was required, and is commemorated thus:28

CRADLEY CHURCHYARD EXTENSION
THIS STONE COMMEMORATES THE ENLARGEMENT OF THIS BURIAL GROUND BY THE ADDITION OF ONE ACRE OF LAND AT A COST OF ABOUT 620, WHICH WAS RAISED BY SUBSCRIPTIONS AND PARTLY BY VOLUNTARY RATE

COMMITTEE
SAMUEL HINGLEY (Chairman)
JOSPER HINGLEY
HENRY HIPKISS
THOMAS WILLIAMS
JAMES HINGLEY
ISAAC P. BLOOMER
GEORGE BISSELL
JAMES BROUGHALL

CONSECRATED BY THE
LORD BISHOP OF WORCESTER
(DR. PHILPOTT)
MARCH 18th, 1882
REV. J. H. THOMSON, Vicar.

JAMES HINGLEY } Churchwardens
GEORGE S. BISSELL }



In May 1910 Messrs. King Brothers donated an acre of land adjoining the 1882 extension on the western side. Half an acre was granted to St Peter's and the other half allotted to the Free Churches, a fence dividing the two portions.

Mural Tablets29

SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF
JOHN TOWNSHEND
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE THE 11th DAY OF MAY, 1806
IN THE SEVENTY-SECOND YEAR OF HIS AGE
A Zealous Friend to this Religious Establishment

ALSO OF
BRIDGET, HIS WIFE
WHO DIED THE 5th OF FEBRUARY, 1808, AGED 66



By his will he directed his nephew, Isaac Marston to permit the Rev. Thomas Best to occupy Colley Gate House, where he then resided, during the term of his natural life, at a yearly rental of 10.
In 1813, Isaac Marston was one of the Chapel Wardens with Samuel Coley, and here is a tablet to his memory:

SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF ELIZABETH, THE WIFE OF
ISAAC MARSTON,
DIED APRIL 22ND, 1823 IN HER 65th YEAR.
LIKEWISE THE ABOVE
ISAAC MARSTON
DIED MARCH 31ST 1833, IN THE 77TH YEAR OF HIS AGE
An affectionate husband, a kind father and a sincere friend
REBECA
THEIR DAUGHTER,
DIED JUNE 7th, 1815, IN HER 25th YEAR

ALSO
SARAH
THEIR YOUNGEST DAUGHTER
WHO DIED THE 31ST OF DECEMBER, 1833, AGED 38 YEARS

SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF THE
REVEREND THOMAS BEST
FIRST MINISTER OF THIS CHURCH, WHO AFTER A LABORIOUS AND
FAITHFUL DISCHARGE OF HIS MINISTERIAL DUTIES IN THIS PLACE
DURING NEARLY FORTY YEARS, WORN OUT BY THE WILLING SERVICE
OF HIS GOD AND SAVIOUR, ON THE XXV DAY OF JULY, MDCCCXXI,
IN THE LXU YEAR OF HIS AGE, ENTERED INTO REST.

"Remember them who have spoken unto you the word of God ; whose faith follow considering the end of their conversation ; Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and to-day and for ever - HEB. VIII, 7-8.

This Memorial, a tribute of esteem, affection and regret, was erected by the Seat-holders.

SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF THE
REV. JOSEPH HESSELGRAVE THOMPSON, B.A
OF MAGDALEN COLLEGE,OXFORD,
AND FOR THIRTY-THREE YEARS THE MINISTER OF THIS CHURCH AND PARISH
HE ENTERED INTO REST, APRIL 18th, 1889, IN THE 78th YEAR OF HIS AGE.
(BORN APRIL 21ST, 1811)
This Tablet was erected by Parishioners and Friends to mark their esteem.

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
WILLIAM PEARSON STRAWSON
OF THE ELMS, CRADLEY, WORCESTERSHIRE, WHO DIED MAY 14th, 1891, AGED 52 YEARS, AND INTERRED IN THE FAMILY VAULT AT LLANISHEN, GLAMORGANSHIRE.
“Until the day break and they shadows flee away.”
Erected by his widow.


The Hingley Memorial Window was moved in 1933 from above the Altar to a position over the Clergy Vestry.

The inscription reads: -

TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE MEMORY OF
ANN LINTON HINGLEY
THIS WINDOW WAS ERECTED BY
NOAH HINGLEY, J.P.
OF HATHERTON LODGE, CRADLEY, TO THE MEMORY OF HIS WIFE, ANNE LINTON HINGLEY, IN REMEMBRANCE OF HER MANY VIRTUES
AND HER GREAT KINDNESS TO THE POOR OF THIS PARISH.

Anne Linton Hingley, died October 1871. Aged 73 years.
Noah Hingley, died October, 1877. Aged 82 years.



Incumbents, curates and churchwardens30

Incumbents (to 1900)
1798-1821Rev. Thomas Best
1822-1849Rev. John Jones
1850-1889Rev. Charles Walker Simons, B.A. (Cantab)
1856-1889Rev James Hesselgrave Thompson, B.A. (Oxon)
1889-1892Rev. Alfred Bell Timbrell, M.A.
1892-1911Rev. Robert Henry Edmondson, B.A. (Dublin)

Curates (to 1900)
1821Rev. D.N. Walton, M.A.
1852Rev C. Rd Hyde
1854Rev G.A. Caley
1858Rev. Chas Wolston
1861Rev J. Benbough
1866-1869Rev. Thomas Huband Gregg
1869-1870Rev. D. Seddon
1870-1871Rev. M. Gordon
1872-1886Rev. Rev. John Buncher
1886 (Feb to May)Rev. T.S. Pepper
1888 (May to Oct)Rev. William Crabbe
1889 (Jan to Sep)Rev. E. Johnson
1890-1893Rev. William Henderson
1895-1897Rev. A. T. Pallister, B.A. (Cantab)
1897-1900Rev. T. F. Monahan, M.A. (Dublin)


Churchwardens (to 1900)
YearVicar's WardensPeople's Wardens
1858Sydney Fennell, M.D.Richard Hawkeswood
1859James Wood AstonJoseph Jones
1860Noah HingleyJeston Homfray
1861Charles R. HodgettsRichard Hawkswood
1862Richard WebbWilliam R. Smith
1863C.B. HodgettsThomas Patishall
1864Samuel HingleyRichard Webb
1865-1867No records 
1868G.H. RiceJohn Bridgwater
1869John BridgwaterIsaac Parkes Bloomer
1870Isaac P. BloomerJoseph Hingley
1871Joseph HingleyRichard Mountford
1872Richard MountfordWilliam R. Smith
1873William R. SmithWesley Hayes Thompson, M.D.
1874-5William R. SmithJoseph B. Homer
1876-7Joseph B. HomerSamuel Hingley
1878Samuel HingleyHenry Hipkiss
1879Henry HipkissIsaac P.Bloomer
1880Isaac P. BloomerJames Hingley
1881James HingleyGeorge S. Bissell
1882Isaac P. BloomerGeorge Birkin
1883Isaac P. BloomerJoshua Forrest
1884William D. BirkinThomas Harper
1885Isaac P. BloomerJames Hingley
1886James HingleyGeorge S. Bissell
1887Joseph JaquissBenjamin B. Hawkeswood
1888Isaac P.BloomerJames Hingley
1889-91Benjamin Hingley, M.P.Thomas Price
1892Thomas PriceWilliam Hunter
1893Alfred BateWilliam J. Wright
1894William J. WrightGeorge A. Bloomer
1895George A. BloomerGeorge S. Bissell
1896George S. BissellFrank Hipkiss
1897Alfred BateA. Bloomer
1898-99George A. BloomerAlfred Bate
1900Alfred BateF. Bloomer


Notes

The principal sources for this article were:

  Margaret Bradley and Barry Blunt, The History of Cradley Churches Part One: 1700-1800 The Formative Years (Windmill Hill Drop-in Centre, 1999) cited here as The Formative Years
  Margaret Bradley and Barry Blunt, The History of Cradley Churches Part Two: 1800-1900 Growing Apart (Windmill Hill Drop-in Centre, 1999) cited here as Growing Apart
  Frank Stevens, A Short History of Cradley Chapel commonly called the Parish Church of St Peter, Cradley, Staffs (1933)
  William Scott, Stourbridge and its Vicinity, (1829)
  John Beach, The Parish Registers of Cradley Chapel, Worcestershire (now St. Peters Parish Church, Cradley) 1785-1839 (Birmingham and Midland Society for Genealogy and Heraldry, 1978)
  John Beach and Eric Whittleton, Cradley Baptist Church, Worcestershire; Registers & Historical Records 1783-1837 (Birmingham and Midland Society for Genealogy and Heraldry, 1978)


1 Stevens, p. 32
2 Webster's 1913 dictionary: Chan"cel (?), n. [OF. chancel, F. chanceau, cancel, fr. L. cancelli lattices, crossbars. (The chancel was formerly inclosed with lattices or crossbars) (Arch.) (a) That part of a church, reserved for the use of the clergy, where the altar, or communion table, is placed. Hence, in modern use; (b) All that part of a cruciform church which is beyond the line of the transept farthest from the main front. Chancel aisle (Arch.), the aisle which passes on either side of or around the chancel. -- Chancel arch (Arch.), the arch which spans the main opening, leading to the chancel -- Chancel casement, the principal window in a chancel. Tennyson. -- Chancel table, the communion table.
3 The official Established Church of the nation was the Church of England, whose followers were termed Anglicans. Those Protestants who disagreed with the teachings of the Church of England were known as Dissenters or Nonconformists.
4 By a quirk of history, there is a still today a Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion church named Cradley Chapel in Worcestershire; it is in Chapel Lane, Cradley, Malvern.
5 Cradley Baptist Minute Book, Beach & Whittleton p. 4
6 James Scott Manuscript (1800 - 1826) (cited here as JSM) “History of Cradley, Principally designed to record interesting transactions respecting it religious societies, and more especially the Presbyterian Church” quoted in The Formative Years p. 15
7 Stevens, p. 4
8 JSM p. 110 “An Address of the Minister, Chapel Wardens and inhabitants of Cradley, in the Parish of Halesowen, and County of Worcester respecting the Chapel and School of that place” quoted in The Formative Years p. 17
9 JSM p. 112 - 113 “An Address of the Minister and Chapel Wardens” printed in 1800, quoted in The Formative Years p. 17
10 JSM p. 112 - 113 From a petition presented to the Bishop of Worcester in May 1798, quoted in The Formative Years p. 17
11 As 10 above
12 Cradley Baptist Seat Rent Book, Beach & Whittleton p. 19
13 Stevens, p. 5
14 Stevens, p. 6
15 Stevens, p. 8
16 Stevens, p. 9
17 Stevens, p. 10
18 Stevens, p. 10
19 Stevens, p. 9
20 JSM p. 122 - 123. Quoted in The Formative Years, p.19
21 Stevens, p. 11
22 Stevens, p. 11
23 Cradley Parish Records, Dudley Archives, quoted in Growing Apart, p. 9
24 Stevens, p. 15
25 Stevens, p. 13
26 Stevens, p. 17
27 Quoted in Growing Apart, p. 9
28 Stevens, p. 23
29 Stevens, p. 19
30 Stevens, p. 21, 22, 25

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