St. Bartholomew's Church
Vicarage Road, Penn
Church. C14 north arcade with C15 west part; C15 tower,
encased 1765; north west annexe, 1826; south aisle, 1845, by W. Evans;
east bay of south aisle, chancel, north organ loft and south vestry,
1871, by E. G. Paley. ... Organ loft has a plaque with Latin inscription
giving archiect as J. Lavender. ... A church notable for its fine tower
and collection of monuments and glass.
Base of Lady Godiva's Cross. Base of preaching cross.
Early medieval. Plaque in church: it was erected for the use of
itinerant preachers from Dudley Priory by Lady Godiva, the Lady of the
Manor of Nether Penn and was in use until the building of the first
church c.1200. A rare and important survival.
Churchyard Cross. Probably C13 base; shaft and head, 1912.
Churchyard Wall and Gate Pier: to S and SW of church.
Late C18 and early C19. East end has recess for steps and recess
with base of sewer ventilation pipe. Plain gate pier has ashlar
cap with C20 lantern. Included for group value.
Churchyard Wall and Gate Pier: to W of church.
Late C18 and early C19. Included for group value.
Headstone to Elizabeth Russell, d.1700
Headstone to Richard Holles, d.1711
Literature: Pevsner's Buildings of England, Staffordshire,
p.323 (see below)
A guide to the church by Peter Burden:
Although St.Bartholomew's Church occupies an undoubtedly ancient site,
the present building does not seem particularly old on casual
inspection. The most prominent aspect for the casual passer-by is
undoubtedly the tower, which was rebuilt in its present form in 1765 (in
the reign of King George III), giving an unusual Georgian appearance to
the church and reflecting the appearance of nearby Himley church which
was built in 1764. The Georgian period, although noted for its domestic
architecture, was not a time of great church building.
The architecturally curious can do no better than
read the description from Nikolaus Pevsner's master work "The Buildings
of England - Staffordshire". Here's what the master has to say:
ST BARTHOLOMEW, Church Hill and Vicarage Road, Upper Penn. A
mixtum compositum, including a blocked N window which may just be
Norman, two bays of the N arcade which are c 13 (octagonal piers) and
the bays further w which are Perp, a charming brick w tower of 1765 with
such typical Gothick details as ogee gables and quatrefoils, the brick N
W annexe dated 1826, the W half of the S side with lancet windows, which
is of 1845 (by W. Evans), and the whole ashlar faced E end in the style
of 1300 which is of 1871-2 by Paley of Lancaster, whose brother was the
incumbent then. FONT. Perp, octagonal, with panelled base and panelled
short stem. PLATE. Set Of 1796 by W.Sutton Of London. - MONUMENT. John
Marsh, 1802 by Flaxman. High and slender tablet with a standing mourning
woman beneath the profile medallion of the deceased. - Mrs Bradley 1817.
By J.Stephens. Kneeling woman with an anchor. In the churchyard circular
base and part of the circular shaft of a Saxon CROSS
The antiquity of the site is testified to by the well known stump of Lady
Godiva's preaching cross on the South side of the building and, less
obviously, by two old yew trees on the north side of the building, a common
association with old churches. It is instructive to walk round the extensive
and rather hilly graveyard. Fine views towards the Clee Hills, spoiled only
by some modern wirescape, emphasise the hill-top site.
|The reason for Pevsner's use of the phrase mixtum
compositum soon becomes clear if you look at the building from high
in the eastern end of the graveyard adjacent to the Old Stag's Head. [A
location adjacent to a public house is also typical of old village
churches]. The tower can be seen between the south aisle (on the left of
the picture) and the chancel, the much greater height of the chancel
giving a rather higgledy-piggledy appearance, emphasised by the even
lower vestry in the extreme left of the picture.
One of the ancient yew trees can be seen on
the right hand side of the picture. As with any building housing a
living institution, bits and pieces have been tacked on through the
years, usually without the modern concern for "fitting in".
A leaflet is available detailing the history of the building
with a series of plans starting with the 13th century. The original 13th
century church occupied the site of the present north aisle and the north
wall of the church is of that period, the original 13th century door is now
blocked and would have led into what is now a room used by the choir.
||The sketch plan shows the original 13th century layout
in red, brown for the layout from the 15th to the 18th centuries, green
for the early 19th century, yellow for the rebuilding of 1844 and blue
for the 1872 rebuilding. The complex building history is typical of a
building being constantly modified to meet the changing needs of its
users. Up until the 18th century there was a small porch or the south
side of the church. Since then entry has been through the base of the
In 1844 the south aisle was built but it was rather short
and users couldn't see the altar. This was rectified in 1871 when the
south aisle was extended, the lady chapel built and the chancel extended
to accommodate the newly fashionable choir. The extended chancel bears a
remarkable resemblance to St.Philip's before the re-ordering of 1997;
this is not too surprising as St.Philip's was built in 1859 as a
St.Bartholomew's is a modern working building and much of what you see on
entering the building reflects this. The leaflet that can purchased
for 20p gives a detailed history of the church. The entrance lobby is
unusual and, frankly, rather pokey, but it's probably very effective at
keeping the draughts out. On the north wall there is a stone memorial to
Prebendary Edgar Hartill who was vicar from 1918 to 1948. Entrance to the
main body of the church is through modern glass doors donated in memory of
Violet May Evatt who died in 1964.
|On entering the main body of church, the view to the
east window is the first thing to strike the visitor. This is
everybody's idea of what a church should look like. There are also
traditional Victorian pews and a pulpit to the left. Before 1979 the
appearance was even more traditional with a carved wooden screen
separating the nave from the chancel. This screen has been moved to a
position between the lady chapel and south aisle and effectively defines
the lady chapel as an area for private prayer.
As part of the 1979 reorganisation a simple
modern holy table was installed in the position formerly occupied by the
screen. This meant that the officiating priest could, as is modern
practice, celebrate communion standing behind the table and facing the
||When the chancel was enlarged to provide space for the
choir, a pipe organ was installed to the north of the chancel. The
painted metal pipes are conspicuous at the end of the north aisle. The
organ is described as a Walker organ, it was ordinally installed in the
north aisle itself but this was awkward and the present organ chamber
was built in 1901. In front of the organ pipes is a wooden bookstand
donated in 1963 by the 6th Wolverhampton Company of the Boys' Brigade to
celebrate their 50th anniversary. Also in the north aisle is the blocked
original door to the 13th century church. This too carries a 20th
century monumental inscription reading: "In Memory of William
Adams for 28 years borough treasurer died 3rd August 1960 aged 59 years.
This memorial is enclosed in one of the original doorways to the l3th
Century Church the North wall of which still stands".
In 2000 the church raised the very large
amount of money needed for a modern church hall and centre which has now
(2000) been built on the north side of the church.