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Sedgley's church paid for by a lord

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: February 15, 2014

By Dan Shaw

  • All Saints Church Sedgley

  • Tinted postcard of the vicarage and All Saints Church

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THESE postcards are around 100 years old and they come from the collection of Arthur Gunter of Merry Hill, Wolverhampton. They show some well-known Black Country landmarks – All Saints' Church, Sedgley, and its vicarage.

This church was consecrated in 1829 but there has been a church on the site since Norman times and possibly earlier.

Rev Stebbing Shaw in his History and Antiquities of Staffordshire, published in 1801, described the old church as follows: "The Church of All Saints, Sedgley, is an ancient structure of rough stone, having a good lofty spire, which from its situation on the summit of the hill is a fine object to the country for many miles around, and on the west side picturesquely grouped with rich foliage. The inside contains nothing remarkable."

However, by the 1800s the church was in a poor condition and was too small for the growing population of Sedgley. In 1826 a church rebuilding fund was opened to raise the necessary money but John William, Viscount Dudley and Ward, later to be made Earl of Dudley, stepped in and offered to rebuild the church entirely at his own expense; his ancestor, William Ward, had been vicar of Sedgley between 1730 and 1745.

Viscount Dudley laid the foundation stone of the new church in 1826, so demolition may have begun straight away but by 1828 construction of the new church was in full swing.

Much of the carved woodwork from the pews was appropriated by Viscount Dudley for use as wainscoting in a number of his properties, including Priory Hall in Dudley, built around the same time.

The new church was built in the Decorated Gothic style with stone from nearby Gornal and was large enough to seat 1,300.

The tower was the only part of the old church left and this was given a new casing. The entire cost of rebuilding the church was £11,000, all paid for by Lord Dudley.

The dedication service and the reopening took place in July 1829.

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