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St. James the Great
St. James the Great, Church Street, Lower Gornal.
Photo CDM 2014
Church Street, Lower Gornal.
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.
The Mercury, 7 September, 1888
Old Postcard published by J.W.Thomas c1905
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....
this aye fur noggin yeds