St. Martin's Church and St. John's Church

Tipton’s original parish church was St. Martin’s in Upper Church Lane, Summerhill. The church has since been rebuilt and is now dedicated to St. John. The old church was built in the 13th or 14th century, close to the old village. The church tower is more modern and appears to have been built as a later addition, or as a replacement for an earlier structure. It has a sundial that carries the inscription “This steeple was built anno domini 1683 – John Nightingale, William Clare, Church Wardens”. In 1965 excavations were carried out around the old church building and the tower to examine the foundations. They were found to be about three feet deep and constructed from the same stone as the building itself, which suggests that there was probably not an earlier building on the site. The parsonage nearby, now long gone, was surrounded by a moat.

In 1552 the County Commissioners were making an inventory of all the articles in use in all churches. This was part of King Henry VIII’s reformation, following an Act of 1545. In 1547 another Act was passed that allowed the young King Edward VI to continue the work of his predecessor. The Commissioners would confiscate articles that were then sold to raise funds for national defence. The inventory taken at St. Martin’s in 1552 lists the following: a silver chalice or wine cup, a silver plate for Eucharistic bread, robes made from Bruges satin and serge, Eucharistic robes, towels, alter coverings, a lamp, a cross, two brass candlesticks, two white metal jars to hold wine and water, a small Sanctus bell, and three bells in the tower. The commissioners took everything except the four bells, some linen, and the curate’s surplice.

In June 1650 the Commonwealth Commissioners carried out the following survey of the church property and its value:



The parsonage with a little moat, including an orchard garden, a yard, a barn, and a stable. £2 per year.
A recently erected little cottage next to the parsonage orchard, occupied rent free by William Davies. 3s.4d. per year.
Four and a half acres of land next to the church, known as Brook Leasow. £2 per year.
Five and three quarter acres of land, near the church, known
as Middle Leasow.
Five acres of land known as Well Leasow. £3.10s.
Three acres of land near the church. £1.3s.4d.
Three acres of land next to Brook Leasow. £1.3s.4d.
Three and a half acres of land known as Moat Close. £2.3s.4d.
A little croft next to Moat Close containing one and a quarter acres of land. 8s.4d.
Half an acre of land known as Crabb Croft. 2s.0d.
Six and three quarter acres of rough coppice containing some oak trees, and a cottage occupied by Richard Nightingale who pays 25 shillings a year rent. £2.10s.



Tythe of hay   

£50.00 per year.

Wood on the coppice ground   


Reserved rent   


Thomas Shaw, who became curate in 1761 described the local conditions as follows:

“The inhabitants are very numerous, but very poor, the roads to it for six months of the year, dangerous – almost impassable – and when one arrives there, no accommodation, not even for a horse but by the favour of some neighbouring farmer or nailor, so that no church in the country that I know of is so poorly provided for or so ill circumstanced.”

The church was built to cater for the original village, but as Tipton expanded, the small building was unable to cope with the increasing size of the congregation. By the middle of the 18th century it was in a bad state of repair, both externally and internally, and was now some distance from the centre of Tipton, which had grown to the south of the old village. Thomas Shaw, the church wardens, and the principal inhabitants felt that something had to be urgently done to resolve the situation. They appealed for financial assistance to enable them to either rebuild an extended church on the existing site, or preferably build a new church nearer to the town centre. They made their case in several documents that were sent to eligible benefactors. The documents describe their desperate situation, as can be seen from the following two examples, from December 1762.

Document 1:

"The Parish Church of Tipton is in so old and ruinous state as no longer to be a decent, or even safe place of Divine Worship. Not only the Roof is decayed, admitting the rain and the Snow, but the walls also are so cracked and bulged, as to require taking down and re-building. . . In this unhappy situation, having no proper place of Divine Worship and utterly unable to assist themselves, being entirely Tenants at rack-rents and Carriers of Coal, or Nailors, or Colliers, they most humbly and earnestly entreat the generous contributions of the Friends to Virtue and Religion. . ."

Document 2:

"It is our humble and hearty desire, and shall by all means in our power be our sincere endeavour, that the said Church be re-built on a larger plan (if it may be) in a more convenient place, that so both ourselves and others may have an opportunity of frequenting the Worship of Almighty God. And, as the present Revenue of the Minister of this Parish is very inconsiderable and greatly needs an augmentation we do hereby declare our assent, that the monies arising either by letting or sale of those seats be appropriated to the use and benefit of the Rev. T. Shaw and his successors forever".

Eventually sufficient money was raised to build a new church, and in February 1794 Sir Edward Littleton presented a petition to the House of Commons that resulted in an Act being passed to allow the building of a new church, and the disposal of materials from the old church.

The following advert appeared in Aris's Birmingham Gazette on 29th January, 1798:

“At the next meeting of the Trustees for taking down and re-building the Parish Church of Tipton, in the County of Stafford, to be held at the house of William Short Innholder, in Tipton aforesaid. on Tuesday the 6th of February next at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, will be sold by Auction by Edward Jessop, all the materials of the Old Church (except Monuments, printed Tablets, Stone, Lead in the Tower, Timbers, Glass, Pews, etc., with a large painting of the King's Arms), and which will be sold in distinct lots. For view of the premises apply to Mr. Edward Fisher, or Mr. Joseph Smith, Churchwardens”.

The replacement church was built in Lower Church Lane, nearly a mile south east of the original building, nearer to the town centre. The new St. Martin’s was erected in 1795 to 1797 by J. Keyte of Kidderminster at a cost of £1,400. The whole project including a large burial ground was completed at a cost of £5,000. The main building is rectangular in plan and had a nave, with galleries on three sides, and an organ in the west gallery. On the eastern side is an arch leading to a small chancel. At the west end is a semi-circular bell tower, with a circular domed top. Because of this the building became known as ‘the pepper pot’. It is a plain Italian styled building, built in brick and externally rendered. There was an eagle lectern and an octagonal stone pulpit in the church, and a vestry in the tower.

The new church. From an old postcard.

The ‘pepper pot’ top of the bell tower was removed in 1965. The building lay derelict for some years, until it was converted for residential use in 2007. The conversion featured in a Channel 4 television programme called ‘Grand Designs’. The burial ground, which is still there today, is in Lower Church Lane, between St. Martin’s Primary School and Churchyard Road.

Another view of the church. Also from an old postcard.

In the early years of the nineteenth century the land around the original St. Martin’s Church was leased, and an Act was passed to allow coal mining to take place on the site. The first mining lease dated 25th March, 1803 was obtained by John Read of Valley, near Bromsgrove, for £20,040.12s.6d. for a term of 50 years, and at a rate of £550 per acre. At the time the old church was occupied by Charles Kemp, and still occasionally used for services and burials. In about 1820 the southern wall was blown inwards by a fierce gale, and by the 1840s the roof had gone, as had much of the external stone walls.

In 1849 a vestry meeting was called to consider the state of the old church, and the best way to re-build the church to make it useable again. A committee was formed to consider the problem, and on 18th May, 1849 Mr. William Wilday was asked to take down the remaining stonework, clear rubble from the building and inspect the foundations. On 2nd June he presented an account of the work he had carried out to the committee. The work included building foundation walls to improve the foundations so that they could support a building with walls 8ft. high, the building of a boundary wall, and some repairs to the stonework in the tower.  He also laid several feet of ash in places to fill-in holes caused by subsidence from the coal mines.

From the 1851 edition of William White's History, Directory and Gazetteer of Staffordshire.

The Church of St. John the Evangelist. From an old postcard.

In July a tender for £244 for building a new church was accepted from a Mr. Cox, and work quickly got underway. The building was completed in 1850 and re-dedicated to St. John the Evangelist in 1854. The Nave was designed by Wyatt & Brandon.


The intense coal mining had a series effect on the building. By 1913 there were considerable cracks in the walls, and some of the brickwork in the chancel had collapsed.

The church closed and parish work was transferred to St. Joseph's Church in Newhall Street. The restoration work costing nearly £3,000 was completed in 1921, and the church reopened.

The building was Grade II listed on 29th September, 1987.

St. Mark’s Church, Ocker Hill Road, Ocker Hill

Ocker Hill Parish was formed on 8th August, 1845, and the first curate, Rev. Lionel William Stanton was appointed on 16th of May, 1846. The first services were held in a school that stood on the south eastern corner of the site where the church was later built. Plans were immediately made for the building of a church and the raising of funds for its construction. All of the wealthy local inhabitants were asked to subscribe to the project, which raised around £1,050. A grant of £600 was received from the Lichfield Diocesan Church Extension Society, a grant of £250 was received from the Church Commissions, and the Incorporated Society gave £300. Nearly an acre of land and was given by Wyrley Birch, Lord of the Manor.

The church was built in 1849 to 1850 by Hamilton and Saunders of Wolverhampton. The total cost of the project amounted to around £2,500, so a further £300 had to be raised. The church was built of blue bricks in decorated Gothic style, with a nave, a clerestory, two aisles, and an exposed bell under a bell-cote. The building was consecrated on 13th November 1849, and could seat 600 people. This included seats in a gallery at the back of the church which was later dismantled.

St. Mark's Church. From an old postcard.

Within a few years the building began to suffer from structural problems caused by subsidence, resulting from the underlying coal mines. A tower should have been added to the building, but this was abandoned because of the unstable land. In 1860 a survey was carried out by Smallman and Smith, Architects and Surveyors of Stourbridge. They found that due to subsidence there was settlement in the five windows on the north aisle, the roof at the north east end of the aisle had parted from the wall, so letting-in rain water, and daylight could be seen through cracks in the nave arches and the clerestory windows.

It was also found that the pillars carrying the arches on the south side of the nave were leaning, so the surveyors thought that further problems would soon materialise. They suggested that the whole building was starting to lean towards the north. A law suit to gain compensation from the Moat Colliery Company followed, and restoration work on the church was carried out.

In 1890 an appeal raised £700 for further repairs to the building, and another appeal for £1,000 was made, which paid for the re-roofing of the north aisle. Although the coal mines were closing around that time, the building continued to suffer from subsidence for a long period. It was later strengthened, and a new vestry was built. In 1910 restoration work was carried out on the chancel, and a new organ chamber was added. At the end of World War One a memorial to the men of the parish who died in the war, was fitted to the east wall.

From the 1851 edition of William White's History, Directory and Gazetteer of Staffordshire.

The Church of St. Martin and St. Paul, Owen Street

The church was built as a chapel of ease for St Martin’s Church in 1837 to 1838 and dedicated to St. Paul. It was designed by Robert Ebbles, and built of red brick in Early English style, with a tower at the front, a nave, a chancel, aisles, and a gallery running round three sides of the church. Originally the building could seat 1,322 people, and cost over £5,000 to build, which was raised by subscriptions and grants.

In 1843 the new parish of St. Paul was created, and in 1870 a stone, Gothic font was given by a parishioner. In 1899 a vestry was added. Modifications were made in 1985 when a false ceiling was inserted to reduce the expense of heating, and two parish rooms were built at the rear of the nave. The work also included the addition of a western gallery, and toilets and a kitchen on the ground floor.

When St. Martin’s Church closed in 1986, the two parishes combined and the church became known as St. Martin's and St. Paul's. The building was Grade: II listed on 1st December, 2015.

From the 1851 edition of William White's History, Directory and Gazetteer of Staffordshire.

St. Matthew's Church, Dudley Road

The church was built in brick in Early English style in 1881 and designed by J. H. Gibbons. It consists of a nave with a clerestory, a lower two-storey west porch, a lower chancel, two narrow aisles, a north vestry, and a tower (with a bell) to the south-east. It cost nearly £6,000 to build, which was raised by subscription. Subscribers included Lord Dudley. As built, the church seated 478 people. A substantial vicarage was built next to the church at a cost of about £1,600. The building was Grade II listed on 29th September, 1987.

St. Matthew's Church. From an old postcard.

St. Michael's Church, Tividale Road

One of the most prominent buildings in Tividale Road was St. Michael’s Church with its impressive tower, which could be seen from many parts of the area. In the early 1870s a mission room was made from two cottages that were converted for the purpose, and a committee was formed to consider and plan the building of a church. Money for the project was raised by subscription, and a suitable piece of land on which to build the church was soon obtained.

The building was designed by Davis and Middleton, and built in 1877 to 1878 by Mr. Everall, of Malvern. The foundation stone was laid on 8th January, 1877, and the consecration ceremony took place on July 13th, 1878. The building, built of brick in Early English style cost around £8,000, and was considered to be one of the finest churches in the area. It consisted of a nave, 59 feet wide by 100 feet long, a chancel, a tower, and could seat 800 people. A vicarage was later built next door, and in 1891 a new organ was installed.

The original St. Michael's Church. From an old postcard.

Unfortunately the building began to suffer from serious structural problems which eventually led to its demolition in 1994. In 1996 the existing replacement church, lying back from the road was completed.

Wesleyan Church, Park Lane

Wesleyan Methodism was very popular in the Black Country, and the exploits of John Wesley and his brother Charles have become a legend. It is not so well known that both brothers preached in Tipton. The following extracts are from John Wesley’s Journal:

On 7th February, 1744 Wesley writes “On Friday afternoon I went from Birmingham to Tipton Green, but finding the mob still raging up and down I returned to Birmingham.”

Sunday 5th April, 1745. “About one I preached at Tipton Green and about four at Wednesbury. A few persons at first threw some clods, but they were quickly glad to retreat, so there was no interruption.”

Sunday 10th November, 1745. “I preached at five and eight o’clock at Wednesbury, and about one at Tipton Green, and at four in the afternoon to well nigh the whole town, high and low, as at the beginning.”

Wednesday 3rd April, 1751. “I preached at five and eight o’clock at Wednesbury. At one I preached at Tipton Green where the Baptists also have been making havoc of the flock, which constrained me in speaking on those words ‘Arise and be baptised and wash away thy sins’ and to spend near ten minutes in controversy, which is more than I had done for many months, perhaps years before.”

In the1750s a preaching house was built at Tipton and given to Wesley by James Jones, one of his followers. Wesley kept the building until 1786. The first Wesleyan chapel at Tipton was established by John Wesley himself in July 1786 in Park Lane. Within a few years it proved to be too small and so it was replaced by a larger building on the same site, which opened on 3rd December, 1809. This building also became too small and so it was considerably enlarged in 1827 at a cost of £1,249.0s.2d. An organ was installed in 1846, and in 1848 the building was licensed so that marriages could take place there.

By this time the building was beginning to suffer from subsidence due to the intense coal mining. The building became unsafe, and run-down due to its age. After a few years the subsidence seemed to settle down, so it was considered to be safe to replace the building with a much larger structure.

Park Lane Wesleyan Church. From an old postcard.

Park Lane Wesleyan Church was designed by George Bidlake, of Wolverhampton, and built by Trow and Sons, of Wednesbury. The foundation stone was laid on 7th of August, 1865, and the chapel opened on Sunday 23rd September, 1866.

The building, which cost £5,874.3s.0d. was built of red bricks with stone dressings in the Gothic style. Features included an impressive ornate frontage and a beautiful tower with a stone spire, 120 feet high. In 1867 an organ built by Bishop and Starr, of London was installed.

After completion, the congregation was heavily in debt because of the high building costs, which were not fully paid off until about 1890.

By 1975 the building was in a bad state of repair, the prohibitive cost of which, led to its demolition and replacement with a smaller modern chapel that opened on 1st July, 1978.

There were five other Wesleyan Methodist Chapels in the locality. They were at Bloomfield, Dudley Port, Great Bridge, Gospel Oak, and Lower Green.

New Connexion Methodists

The New Connexion Methodists, an offshoot of the Wesleyan Methodists were quite prominent in Tipton.

In 1836 they built the New Connexion Chapel in Canal Street which was in between Owen Street and New Cross Street. The trustees were all employees of Bloomfield Ironworks.

In 1856 they built Regent Street Tabernacle in Princes End, with an interior in the form of an amphitheatre. The building cost around £1,300. It was demolished in 1929.

They also had a Mission Room at Conygre and a chapel at Tividale.

Regent Street Tabernacle. From an old postcard.

Primitive Methodists

A group of Primitive Methodists was formed in Tipton in about 1810. Most of them were ex-Wesleyan Methodists. In 1823 they built a chapel in Bell Street at a cost of £440, which was enlarged in 1861 at a cost of £1,426. It could seat 700 people and had an average attendance of 550. The group also held open air missions, adult bible classes, and prayer meetings. A chapel was built at Toll End in 1842 at a cost of £409 which was later modified at a cost of £626.6s.6d. It could seat 487 people, and had an average attendance of 350. There was also a chapel in Railway Street, built in 1859 at a cost of £431 which could seat 380 people. It had an average attendance of 250. In 1873 a chapel was built at Princes End at a cost of £1,200. It could seat 555 people and had an average attendance of 450. There was also a small mission room at Summerhill.


In the early 1800s a small group of Baptists used to meet at Summerhill in an old stable. When the number of members increased, they decided to build a church in High Street, Princes End, which opened in 1846. The building survived until the early 1870s when it was demolished because of severe subsidence from coal mining. A new site was acquired in Newhall Street, where much of the material from the old church was reused to build a new church. When the area was redeveloped in 1973, the church was demolished, and eventually replaced in 1988 with the building that is still there today.

Other Methodists

Another group of ex-Wesleyans called The Wesleyan Reformers, formed between 1849 and 1851 opened a chapel in Waterloo Street called the Waterloo Street Refuge Chapel. The Christadelphians used to hold meetings in the small room known as Odd Fellows Hall, in Great Bridge, an Independent Chapel stood in Union Street, and a Unitarian Chapel in Waterloo Street.

From the 1851 edition of William White's History, Directory and Gazetteer of Staffordshire.

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