Wolverhampton's Locally Listed Buildings

The Retreat

Church Street, Bilston

Listing: Locally listed in 2004.  Small two storey house in rustic brick, built side on to the road on the edge of St. Leonard's churchyard.  Historical association with the church and important to the setting of a listed building.

Comment:  The story of this building is a complete mystery.  The view above is from the churchyard.  It is on an island site the other occupants of which are St. Leonard's church, St. Leonard's Parsonage and the Bilston Town Hall.  Presumably this survives from before the time the parsonage and the town hall were built, though it cannot, of course, predate the church.  This suggests that originally it had some close connection with the church. 

A plaque on the wall to the Church Street frontage reads:  "To the memory of John Etheridge, 1772 - 1856.  He sacrificed self and substance for the poor of this town.  Erected by Bilston Historical Society".  Presumably the Society think Etheridge lived here.  Etheridge was a small shopkeeper who spent most of his money, and most of his time, distributing religious tracts and, on Sundays, pushing people into the nearest church or chapel - without himself ever attending.  The rest of his time and money was spent on the needy.  He was a local character and a local hero.