History of St Mary’s Church Hurst Hill and Parish Priests.

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The foundation stone of the Church, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, was laid by Lord Wrottesley, the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, on a bright sunny Monday afternoon in October 1871. For at least two years previously services had been held in the school building nearby, and prior to that worship had taken place in a wooden shed near to the old Post Office. This has been known as St Mary’s Mission, and the new building which began to take shape as referred to by locals as St Mary’s New Church, Can Lane.

The site of the new church was given by Mr A B Whitehouse and the cost of the building came to £3511.0s.2d. A local architect from Wolverhampton, Mr G Bidlake was given the commission of designing it, which he did following the Old English style. Another local man, Mr Nelson of Dudley was awarded the building contract which was completed the following year, 1872 when the Church was consecrated.

Much of the money required to meet the cost of the building the Church came from the Earl of Dudley who generously gave £1000 towards the Nave and Aisles and £500 for the Chancel. Many others also gave sums as they could afford, from £100 given by Lady Ward, to pennies given by parishioners as part of a ‘buy a brick’ campaign.

The Nave of St Mary’ is 71½ feet long, with the Chancel adding another 33½ft to the total length of the church. The stonework and Nave columns are composed of Corsham Stone. The 10 stone faces on the columns represent 8 of the Apostles, whilst over the pulpit, Bishop Anson is represented, he was vicar of All Saint’s Sedgley in 1870 when plans were laid for the formation of a new parish in Hurst Hill. Later he was to become the first Bishop of Gallipoli. The 10th face is that of the Rev Ridsel, the first Vicar who ministered here until 1892 he lived at Townsend House off Sedgley High Street. He had three daughters, who on his death in 1899 carved the three panels which are by the High Altar and presented them to the church in memory of their father. It took them three years to complete the work. One of his daughters married Mr Dixon who became the third vicar of the parish, serving here from 1901-1922.

The Whitehouse family , besides giving the ground on which the church is built also gave the Font at the time the church was erected. Thirty-one years later the family of Mr William Waterhouse who lived at ‘Ashleigh’ the house next door to the church gave the pulpit. The external walls of the church are faced in Gornal Stone and the dressings are of Greenshill Stone.

Parish Priests at St Mary the Virgin Hurst Hill

Rev T Ridsell                 1872-1892

Rev J Knightlaw            1892-1901

Rev J Dixon                   1901-1922

Rev H Samuels              1922-1924

Rev A Dawson              1924 1941

Rev A Adey                   1941-1947

Rev R Mountford         1947-1962

Rev I Calvert                 1962-1971

Rev P Hirst                    1971-1977

Rev I Froome                 1978-1985

Rev J Points                   1985-1993

Rev S Miller                   1994-1999

Rev E Smith                   2000-2009

Rev S Buckley                2010-2014

Rev E Stanford              2014-