High Holborn, Sedgley, Dudley DY3
One of the oldest churches in the diocese, being a Gothic design of the 1820s, in turn replacing a chapel of 1789. The vaulted sanctuary was considerably enriched in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but the painted decoration is now lost or covered. The building was remodelled and extended at the (ritual) west end by G. B Cox in 1923-4. With the contemporary (but altered) presbytery, former school buildings and large burial ground, the church belongs to a significant group of Catholic structures reflecting the growth of the mission and parish over a century.
Mass was said in Sedgley in the late eighteenth century at private houses by the Rev. John Perry, a junior priest from Wolverhampton. About 1786 he purchased a piece of land in what is now Sandyfields Road and erected a small chapel dedicated to St George, which was dedicated on St George’s Day, 1789. A house was built adjoining the chapel shortly afterwards.
The Rev. Thomas Tysan arrived to assist Fr Perry in 1812 and in 1821 he purchased an acre of land near Sedgley village for an ‘elegant and commodious church’, dedicated to All Saints and seating 400, which opened on 24 August 1823. The old church was demolished, and the bones of Fr Perry reinterred in the burial ground of the new church. According to the bicentenary of the parish, the stones from the old church were reused for the construction of the presbytery at the new site. The identity of the architect for the new church, which was in the then-fashionable thin Commissioners’ Gothic style, is not known. This was said to be the first Catholic church on a main road since the Reformation to be built with a tower, and was intended from the outset to house a peal of bells, in contravention of the provisions of the first Catholic Relief Act (although no bells were in fact installed).
In 1837 a two-storey voluntary school was built by Fr Tysan as an adjunct to the church at the (ritual) east end (this was converted to two cottages in 1900). The mission had no formal connection with the nearby Sedgley Park School, although financial and pastoral support was offered by the latter in the 1840s. A new school building was added in 1876. New school buildings were built on an adjacent site from 1956.
In 1890 under the Belgian priest Fr Charles Malfait, the church received a new altar and reredos. It was consecrated in September 1891, when the dedication was extended to include St Chad. In 1902, under the Rev. John Kelly, much work was done to clean and decorate the building, and the sanctuary was ‘gorgeously decorated’ (Diocesan Directory, 1903) by J. A. Pippet of Solihull (most of this decoration is now lost or covered). In 1914 windows to the memory of Fathers Malfait and Kelly were installed at the east end, to the designs of John Hardman & Co. In 1920 new altar rails in marble and Portland stone with brass gates were installed as a memorial to the parish dead of the Great War.
At the time of the church’s centenary, in 1923-4 and during the incumbency of Canon Hymers, the nave was extended by 12ft and a new west front designed, with a six-foot-high carved stone Crucifix placed over the entrance (architect G. B. Cox of Birmingham, builders Dallow & Son of Blackheath). Inside, a western organ gallery was installed.
St Chad’s Hall was built in 1970, replacing an old army hut which had been acquired in the 1920s. During the time of the Rev. George Tarrant (1977-2001) the church was re-roofed and internally redecorated, the altar gilded and the porch enlarged.
The list entry for the church, below, is very brief and makes no mention of the later extension.
The church was built in 1823, from the designs of an unidentified architect, and extended in 1923-4 (architect G. B. Cox of Birmingham). It is built with the entrance at the geographical east end and with the altar to the west, but in this description conventional liturgical orientation is used.
The church is built of local sandstone, and consists of an aisleless nave (extended by about twelve feet to the west and refronted in 1923-4) and a sanctuary over which, unusually, is placed the tower. It is built in a simple Gothic style with lancet windows and a crenellated parapet on the tower (which also has crocketed pinnacles). The Gothic of the 1920s addition is rather more vigorous.
Inside, the nave is covered by a shallow segmental plastered ceiling, decorated with three ornate octagonal features with cusping and foliage. The ornate sanctuary is set behind a shallow arch. Its present form is rather different from that shown in the c.1924 picture which shows paintings of c1890 by J. A. Pippet and pyramid cappings to the responds. The sanctuary has a plaster-vaulted ceiling, decidedly unmedieval in its delicate detail but extremely attractive.
The most distinguished item of furnishing is the reredos of 1890, crowned by a tall spire in the centre over the Exposition throne and with flanking statues of saints (St John Fisher, St Thomas of Canterbury, St Charles Borromeo and St Edward the Confessor). The marble and Portland stone altar rails of 1920 are the work of Charles Forsyth of Dudley and are a First World War memorial; the brass gates were designed by Charles A. Garland, Principal of the Lincoln School of Art, and were made by L. Wright of Birmingham. The two windows in the chancel depicting St John the Evangelist and St Charles Borromeo are by John Hardman and Co. and date from 1914. The stained glass windows in the nave also date from the early twentieth century (c.1902-22).
1823. Stone. Restrained Gothic style. Nave with tierceron-vaulted chancel surmounted by tower.
Listing NGR: SO9196693339
Date of most recent amendment: 18-May-1987
The following shall be added at the end of the description: ‘Attached to the north west corner of the nave is the Old School House c1837 with later alterations. Coursed rubble and brick with slate roofs plus brick gable and ridge stacks. 2 storeys. 5 bay east front has central doorway with 4 panel door, to the right 2 cross casements and to the left a single cross casement with beyond a doorway now partially blocked, with a C20 casement. Above 4 cross casement. All these openings have stone lintels. The brick north gable wall has 2 upper lancets.’
Early-mid C19. Later alterations. Attached to west end of church. Stucco; 2 storeys; 3 sash windows (no glazing bars); moulded wood doorcase with half-round reeded pilasters, rectangular fanlight, cornice hood and 6-flush-panelled door; coped gabled ends; modern tiles. 2 storeyed, one window bay on right hand side with parapet.
Listing NGR: SO9194493346
Architect: Not known; G. B. Cox
Original Date: 1823
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II