Wolverhampton's Listed Buildings

Tettenhall Church

Listing: C15 west tower, south porch 1882-3 by G.E.Street; nave, chancel and vestry rebuilt after fire, 1950, by Bernard Miller. C20 parts a free interpretation of the Gothic style. Lych Gate, c1890. included for group value.


James P. Jones, A History of the Parish of Tettenhall, London and Wolverhampton, 1894, pp.244-266.
Geoffrey Hancock, A Tettenhall History, Broadside, 1991, pp.58-60
The church publishes a booklet about the church, available at the the church.

Comment:  Tettenhall Church stands on not quite the highest point in the area and is therefore subject to a story, told of many such churches, that whenever the foundation stone was laid on the highest point it would be mysteriously moved overnight to a lower point. This was considered to be the work of the devil - but it resulted in the church's being built below the hill top. These stories are thought to be a reflection of the battles of the early church against paganism.

This 19th century view shows the church, just below the hill top, looking towards Wolverhampton, where St. Peter's and St. John's can be seen - and just one smoking chimney.

Note the fields between the two places - and how Wolverhampton spread along the ridge but hardly at all down the hill towards Tettenhall.

Tettenhall (which in Anglo-Saxon times, and probably for some time after the Conquest, was bigger and better known that Wolverhampton) was, like Wolverhampton, a collegiate church.

It has been suggested that collegiate churches were often founded on the edges of areas where Christianity had not penetrated and the priests of the college were supposed not simply to minister to the parishioners but to go out as missionaries.

Be that as it may, Domesday Book says of the area of Staffordshire north of here "hic vasta est" (here is wasted land).

View of the church from Stebbing Shaw.

A late 19th century photo of the church, showing it much as it would have been before the fire.
When the church caught fire in 1950, the fire brigade engine got trapped in the lich gate. The marks made on the inside edges of the gates, where the engine failed to get through, can still be seen.  The destruction was almost total, only the tower and the porch being saved.  Many important monuments in the interiro were lost.

Miller's design is an complete rebuild. Not only did Miller replace every bit of the ruined building but he invented a new Gothic style, which is worth seeing in its own right.  The interior, somewhat modified since the rebuild, is also worth inspecting.

The churchyard, which is extensive, contains many memorials to local worthies, including one for Henry Hartley Fowler, First Viscount Wolverhampton, which was restored under a WHHS project funded by the LHI. 

An ancient grave slab in the churchyard has a figure on it, so much eroded that its arms seem to have disappeared.

Children in Tettenhall used to be told that this was the statue of a seamstress who had worked on Sunday.

When upbraided by local people, she asked God to strike off her arms if that was a sin.  So He did.