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Christ Church, Bilston

Description: Christ Church

Grade: II
Date Listed: 9 April 1976
English Heritage Building ID: 217930

OS Grid Reference: SO9466694257
OS Grid Coordinates: 394666, 294257
Latitude/Longitude: 52.5461, -2.0801

Location: Church Road, Dudley WV14 8XU

Locality: Bilston
County: Dudley
Country: England
Postcode: WV14 8XU

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Listing Text

726/5/116 CHURCH ROAD
Christ Church

By Thomas Lee, 1827-30. Chancel enlarged by William Bourne of Dudley, 1866. Interior reordered again by W.A. Bonney of Rugeley, 1888; by Wood & Kendrick of West Bromwich, 1897, and by A.T. Butler of Cradley Heath, 1910.

MATERIALS: Gornal stone, slate roofs.

PLAN: Galleried four-bay nave, two-and-a-half bay chancel. Six-bay aisles, now with chapel and organ chamber at their east ends. West tower.

EXTERIOR: Plain ashlar stone sides with solid parapet, six tall narrow lancets to the aisles, without tracery or cusping, and with slim buttresses between each bay. Slightly projecting chancel flanked by low square vestry-like additions (that to the south is part of the Lady Chapel of 1910). The east gable has small pinnacles, and a five light window with elaborate Dec tracery and a lower frieze of blind panels, c. 1906. The tower is tall and slim, of four stages. String courses at each stage wrap around the angle buttresses. There is a west door, a window above, then a low clock stage, and twin louvred belfry lights. The parapets are embattled, with heavy polygonal corner pinnacles and an intermediate pinnacle on each face.

INTERIOR: The interior is light and spacious, with six-bay Perp-style arcades north and south; the piers have four attached shafts and high octagonal plinths, the arches are moulded. There are original galleries on three sides; the gallery fronts have attractive blind Gothic ogee arcading. The upper part of the west wall has two blind Gothic window frames, with ogee arches and big cusps, perhaps for texts or benefaction boards. The two eastern bays of the arcades were divided off to serve as the chancel (see the big ceiling brackets above the screen, probably of 1866); a short extension to the sanctuary was added at the same date. Flat ceilings with two ventilation roses over the nave, and over the chancel, ribbed panels painted blue and gilded with stars, etc. This accords with descriptions of the decorative scheme carried out by Tatlows of Wolverhampton in 1866. The east end of the south aisle is partitioned to form a Lady Chapel, with a large arch pushed through the east wall to unify it with the former vestry beyond, which now serves as a sanctuary. This process began during a restoration of 1888, and continued in 1897 and 1906-10. Wood block floors installed throughout the nave, c. 1966-70, in the chancel, good encaustic tiles c. 1890-1910.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: Tower clock by Samuel Underhill of Wolverhampton, 1830. Reredos of oak, high and pinnacled, with central relief of the Last Supper, c.1906. sanctuary panelling completing the scheme in the 1950s. The east window is a densely peopled design, by Morris & Co., 1906. Fine rood screen of 1904, carved by Advent Hunstone, based on Perp examples at Tideswell, Derbyshire and Huyton, Lancs. Rood group added 1924. Pulpit made by Jones & Willis, 1906; carved oak. The font is octagonal, with quatrefoil panels and a pierced oak cover. Stained glass in the aisles is largely late C19 or early C20. The exception is in the south aisle, a large window ('Beloved Physician') by Hardman of Birmingham, 1957. The Lady Chapel fittings are a tour-de-force of Edwardian design. Glazed screen in the upper part of the two arches into the chancel, 1897. The panelling and canopied framing to the arched opening in the east wall are of 1910, with a painted Ascension by Florence Camm of Smethwick, and one south window by her brother Thomas W. Camm ('Easter Morn', exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1910).

HISTORY: Medieval Coseley was part of the manor of Sedgley, and a possession of the lords of Dudley Castle. Coal mining and iron working were recorded in the reign of Edward I. Industrialisation drove dramatic population increases, and a church was propsed in 1825. Subscriptions raised for rebuilding All Saints, Sedgley, were diverted to the church at Coseley, when Lord Dudley and Ward decided to fund Sedgley himself. He also gave the site for Coseley. The foundation stone was laid on 9th August, 1827, and the new church was consecrated on 27th August 1830. The Church Building Commisioners gave a further £8,632 towards the final cost of £10,700. It sat 2,000. The architect was Thomas Lee Jun. of Barnstable and London. He may have been introduced by John Turton Fereday, a churchwarden at Sedgley Church in 1826, and one at Netherton, Dudley, in 1827. Coseley became a separate parish in 1832. Albert T. Butler (1872-1952) practised in Cradley Heath until 1911 and then in Dudley. He designed several chapels in a picturesque Free Style with hints of Art Nouveau.

Pevsner, N, Buildings of England, Staffordshire, (1974)

Christ Church is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* A typical Commissioners' Church of 1827-30, by Thomas Lee Jun., who designed two other churches in the district
* The west tower is well-proportioned and provides a distinctive landmark for the area
* The interior retains something of the feel of the original design, with pretty Gothic fronted galleries on the three sides of the nave
* The chancel and south chapel are a tour-de-force of Arts and Crafts design, with elaborate woodwork, and glass by Morris & Co. and the Camm Studio

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.