~ Gallery - Churches and Chapels ~
St. James the Great
Church Street, Lower Gornal.
The chapel at Lower Gornal was consecrated in 1823; it holds 800. It is endowed with 104/- in the funds, seat rents 24/-, seven acres of land given by the late Earl of Dudley, wortn about 21/- per annum, and a house.

A report by Rev. William Lewis, Vicar of Sedgley (House of Lords - Reports from Commissioners) 1843,

Founded by Reverend Theodosius Theodosius, building work started in 1815 and the church was completed and consecrated in 1823, the church was further enlarged in 1837.
St. James's was entirely refitted in 1849, when stained glass windows and chancel were added.
In November 1856 a new church organ was installed, built by Bishops in London, at the cost of 200 guineas.
On Sunday 2nd September, 1883 a strong gale was responsible for large pieces of plaster being dislodged from the tower and falling into the gallery, causing great concern to the congregation who were at service at the time.
From Kelly's 1896 directory.....
"The church of St. James, Lower Gornal, is a plain building of stone, in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, north porch and a tower containing one bell: there are 700 sittings, 500 being free. The register dates from the year 1823. The living is a vicarage, gross yearly value 300, net 280, with 9 acres of plebe and residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Lichfield, and held since 1897 by the Rev. Arthur William Tudball B.A. of Emmanuel College, Cambridge."
More restoration and a new Chancel was added in 1888.

1888, newspaper report of restoration.

RESTORATION OF ST. JAMES'S CHURCH LOWER GORNAL

--For some years St. James's Church, Lower Gornal, Sedgley, has been in a dirty and dilapidated state, and upon the present vicar (the Rev. C. E. McCreery (formerly of St. Mary's Church, Lichfield), being appointed to the living, it was decided to make special efforts to obtain funds to defray the cost of painting and cleansing the church, and of erecting a chancel. The Countess of Dudley was consulted upon the matter, and her ladyship intimated her willingness to contribute 100. The Restoration Committee afterwards succeeded in obtaining funds amounting altogether to about 500, and decided that the scheme of restoration should comprise the building of a new chancel, vestry and organ chamber, and also reseating for the church throughout. The chancel will be about 20ft. wide by 30ft. long, and be elevated much above the church floor. It will also be built of stone which has been kindly presented by the Earl of Dudley, and the interior will be fenced with red stone from the Straits quarry, which will also be used for the chancel arch, the windows, and dressings. The floor will be laid with a handsome tile pavement and the windows glazed with cathedral-tinted glass. The whole estimated cost of the proposed improvements are estimated to cost 1,000 and as difficulty is experienced in getting the required funds, it has been decided to defer the renovation of the church for a time. The plans of Mr T.H. Flemming, church architect, Wolverhampton were adopted; and the tender of Messrs Holland, of Dudley, to execute the work was accepted. The Countess of Dudley consented to lay the foundation stone of the chancel which event took place on Monday. Fortunately the weather was fine, the result being that the that the village was crowded with visitors, there being in the vicinity of the church several thousand.
The Mercury, 7 September, 1888
Old Postcard published by J.W.Thomas c1905
CDM Collection
Same view of St James's showing shortened tower.
Photo CDM 2017
This is an old postcard view of St. James's looking from the south-west around 1905, the churchyard was overgrown and looking rather neglected compared to nowadays.
Note that the spire was still intact in this picture.
This Edwardian postcard was published by Joseph William Thomas, who was sub-Postmaster at Lower Gornal Post Office which was located in his shop in Ruiton Street at that time, the picture postcard was no.3 in the series of local views, no.2 in the series was another view of the Church looking from the North, two other known views (no.4) shows the Vicarage in Church Street and another (No.1) of the Five Ways (Ruiton Street) and Methodist Church.
The single bell weighed 12.5 cwt, it was manufacturered by the John Taylor Bellfoundry, at Loughborough.
In 1930, the tower was rebuilt, with part of the middle section removed, reducing the overall height.
The old vicarage was located near the Five Ways junction, at the top of Summer Lane between there and Church Street, after a period of disuse it was demolished in 1973 and houses were built on the site.
Subsequently a new Vicarage was built in Church Street nearer to the Church.
Early Vicars of St. James.
Rev. Theodosius Theodosius, 1815 - 1848
Rev. James Yates Rooker, 1848-1887
Rev. Charles Edward McCreery, 1887-1891
Rev. Arthur William Tudball, 1891-1897 (died 1932 Essex)
Rev. Frederick Job, 1897-1928
Rev. G. R. Cook, 1928-1931
Rev. Harold Shallcross, 1931-1942
Rev. R.N. Timms, 1942-1946
The family tomb of James Yates Rooker.
Photo CDM 2017
The tomb of James Yates Rooker and other family members in the graveyard, vicar of Lower Gornal for 39 years who died in 1887.
Rev. Rooker was infamously shot and maimed by his once friend Charles Hartland on Friday 8th August 1879.
See: The Attempted Murder of the Vicar of Lower Gornal
Part of the the inscription reads....
TILL HE COME
REST IN THIS VAULT ALL THAT MORTAL OF THE
REVD JAMES YATES ROOKER BA JP
BORN FEBY 29TH 1812
FOR THIRTY NINE YEARS VICAR OF THIS PARISH
HE WAS ALSO JP OF THE COUNTY OF STAFFORD
DURING THE LAST TWENTY FIVE YEARS OF HIS LIFE
HE ENTERED HIS ETERNAL HOME MARCH 15 1887
~