"A Century of Parish Life”
This book chronicles the beginnings of St. Saviour’s church in 1908 and the subsequent history of the parish of St. John the Baptist with St. Saviour, Hagley, over the past hundred years.
Written by Jacky Smith, it is based on information from the parish records and the memories and photographs kindly supplied by very many people.
It gives some intriguing glimpses into life in the past century in Hagley.
The book is illustrated with many black and white photographs, and eight pages of colour.
It is available via the church office, price £3.00
All profits from the sale of this book will go to the church.
Our churches - A brief history
St. John the Baptist.
Few parish churches can be as attractively situated as St. John the Baptist, sited as it is within the park of Hagley Hall, and quite close to the Hall itself. As you walk through the lychgate into the churchyard, you may well see the deer herd grazing in the distance. However, although the present church building owes much to the interest and protection of the Lyttelton family, its origins go back to medieval times or even further, since there has been a church on this site since late Saxon times. Some evidence of the medieval church can be seen, notably the stone carving of the “Hagley Lion” which has been dated at c.1130.
The de Hagley family was responsible for enlarging and rebuilding the church in the 14th century. Evidence of this period is to be seen in three arches of the South Aisle, built in the Decorated style (c.1300).
Additionally, a wooden board near the present entrance door lists the Rectors of the parish from 1285.
The North aisle was enlarged in the early 19th century, and the church was further enlarged and virtually rebuilt in 1856, when its interior assumed its present day shape. The imposing tower was added in 1865 and a peal of 8 bells was hung.
The rebuilding, under the direction of the architect G.E. Street, was carried out during the rectorship of the Revd. William Henry Lyttelton, (1847-1884) brother of the 4th Baron, George William Lyttelton, prominent politician and brother- in-law of William Gladstone. Apart from work on the church, the Rector, with his brother’s support, established schools in the parish.
Inside the church, around 30 monuments to various members of the Lyttelton family can be discovered, not forgetting a rather touching memorial to a long lived family nurse. A notable feature in the nave is the two Garter banners, one belonging to 10th Viscount Cobham, great -grandson of the above named Lord George William, and one to his grandson, 1st Viscount Chandos, After the death of members of the Order of the Garter, the banners are hung in their home parish churches. It is quite rare to find more than one such banner in a parish church.
The lovely wrought iron screen was erected as a memorial to a young officer killed at Gallipoli in 1917. The stained glass windows are mainly 19th century and include the work of Charles Kempe and Henry Holiday.
(with grateful thanks to Tom Pagett, on whose work much of this is based)
St. Saviour’s Church
By the end of the 19th century, it was thought necessary to build a new church to serve the needs of the rapidly growing population in West Hagley about one mile from St. John’s. A mission church hall had been established in 1882, but by November 1908 an entirely new church was built and dedicated as St. Saviours, conveniently placed on the corner of a busy road junction near the centre of the village.
The cost was borne by public subscription, and originally it did not appear that there would be enough money to build the church of stone, so the architect was asked to prepare plans for a building of brick.
However a fortuitous legacy arrived in time to allow the church to be built of stone after all, and so the outside is constructed of calcareous sandstone, from a local quarry in Halesowen. The inside is of Pedmore sandstone, a much softer material.
The church has been generously endowed with gifts to add to the furnishings and comfort of its interior over the succeeding years. Notable among these is the stained glass window (RH side of altar) erected to the memory of the Revd. McWatters, curate, who died in the influenza epidemic of 1918, aged only 27.
The pulpit was donated in 1924 in memory of the Revd. Manley Power, late Rector, and the moving spirit behind the building of St. Saviours.
In this honourable tradition, the most recent improvement to the interior of the church has been the acquisition of new chairs for the nave; the red upholstery has added significantly to the comfort and appearance of the church. Many of these chairs have been donated in memory of loved ones.
In 1972, the old Mission hall which had been used as the church hall since 1908, was demolished and a new church hall built alongside and connected to St. Saviour’s. It has proved a valuable resource ever since for both the church and the local community.
All of this and much more can be found in the history of the parish published to mark the Centenary of St.Saviour’s