Newsletter – February 2017

March 3rd, 2017 by JCope

As you pass through Old Swinford on your way to Stourbridge, it may surprise you to know that at one time it was far more important and prosperous than Stourbridge. However, by the early eighteenth century Stourbridge, already noted for its glass, woollen and iron trades was a rapidly growing town. Despite having a population then of about 3,000 it had no Anglican church and was still part of the parish of Old Swinford.

The story of the building of St. Thomas’ church, Stourbridge was the topic of Wendy Gwynne, our speaker this month. The building, begun in 1727, was funded by a private bequest and public subscription. No sooner had it been completed that ‘differences and quarrels’ broke out with the Rector of Old Swinford who had now lost a large part of his congregation and associated income. It took another 130 years before Stourbridge became a parish in its own right. The appointment of its ministers sometimes caused heated debate. In 1858, a fight broke out between supporters of rival candidates in Stourbridge High Street. Unusual to think that ministers once competed for parishes rather than parishes competing for ministers as now.

Although its architect is unknown it is very similar to James Gibb’s St. Martin’s in the Field in London and it is said to have the best plaster barrel vaulted ceiling in the country. So, please go and visit ‘St. Thomas opposite Waitrose’ as it is affectionately known locally as it has the most exquisite stained glass windows and also has a fine musical tradition.

Our next meeting at St Saviour’s Church Hall is on Tuesday 4th April 2017 at 8.00pm. There will be a presentation by Julian Hunt, entitled ‘Harry Vincent and the Blue Bird Toffee Factory, Hunnington’. Harry Vincent’s Blue Bird tins were a sort of visual history of 20th-century Britain. The uncovering of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the 1920s triggered a spate of Egyptian designs; and when British families discovered the seaside after the war, so Blue Bird sold them beach scenes and piers; the 1960s shepherded in rockets and airliners. Visitors are most welcome at all our events – see home page for details and contacts.

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