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Anglican Church of Ss Peter and Paul

A Grade II* Listed Building in Perry Barr, Birmingham

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Latitude: 52.507 / 52°30'25"N

Longitude: -1.8797 / 1°52'46"W

OS Eastings: 408262

OS Northings: 289911

OS Grid: SP082899

Mapcode National: GBR 34Z.M5

Mapcode Global: VH9YX.C7MY

Entry Name: Anglican Church of Ss Peter and Paul

Listing Date: 25 April 1952

Last Amended: 20 July 2009

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1290008

English Heritage Legacy ID: 217814

Location: Birmingham, B6

County: Birmingham

Electoral Ward/Division: Perry Barr

Built-Up Area: Birmingham

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

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Listing Text

997/7/94 WITTON LANE
Anglican Church of SS Peter and Paul

(Formerly listed as:
(Formerly listed as:


997/7/94 WITTON LANE
Anglican Church of SS Peter and Paul

(Formerly listed as:
(Formerly listed as:

An Anglican parish church, originating before 1086, though nothing visible survives from this date. The west tower dates from the C15, with its spire renewed in 1776-7 by John Cheshire (circa 1739-1812); otherwise the church dates from 1879-90, with the south porch added in 1908, all to designs by Julius Alfred Chatwin (1830-1907). The church is constructed from brownish-grey sandstone, under slate roofs.

PLAN: The plan has nave, apsidal chancel, north and south aisles, north organ chamber and south chancel chapel, and south porches. Attached to the north and extending westwards is a late-C20 church centre (not of special interest).

EXTERIOR: The building is set on a moulded sandstone plinth, and has angle buttresses and pitched roofs. There is a west tower of four stages with angle buttresses, three-light windows and an unusual treatment of the bell stage, which has rows of segment-headed recesses with two tiers of trefoil-headed panels; the central pair are louvred, those flanking are blind. The stages are marked by moulded string courses. The tower is surmounted by an elegant, broachless octagonal spire. The tower, nave and chancel have unifying crenellations. The aisle windows and those to the south (Erdington) chapel have simple Y-tracery, with drip moulds and some head stops, in part to accommodate stained glass from the earlier church. The clerestory has windows of three lights, with cusped heads and trefoils in Decorated tracery above. The nave and chancel are continuous, the transition between the two marked by large pinnacles with gargoyles at their bases. The high, five-sided chancel has tall buttresses with multiple off-sets, and three-light windows with continuous mullions, those to the sides with similar tracery to those in the clerestory. Nave, chancel and chapel have gargoyles and moulded detailing.

INTERIOR: The interior is long and high, dominated by the apsidal east end; there is no chancel arch. The nave and chancel have a continuous hammer-beam roof, adapted to the apsidal chancel. There is parquet flooring to the nave and aisles, and mosaic floors in geometric designs to the chancel and the Erdington chapel. The west entrance under the tower gives access to the body of the church. The high C15 tower arch has four continuous chamfers. Immediately in front of it is the font, with elaborate cover; designed by Chatwin, it was installed in 1881. The seven-bay nave arcades are formed from pointed arches carried on alternating round and octagonal piers, with shallow capitals with foliate carving. Although there is no structural break between the nave and chancel, the decoration becomes more sumptuous at the east end. The hammer-beam roof has a wealth of carved timber angels, and punched decoration to the trusses. The elaborate two-bay chancel arcades have ogival arches, with rich embellishments including crocketing, cusping, angel figures and pinnacles. The apse has five fine stained glass windows by Hardman and Co, dating from 1885, depicting the Adoration of the Lamb. Below, the sanctuary is clad in marble, with rich carved and pierced decoration, incorporating canopied sedilia. The reredos has three similar marble canopies, over a stone relief triptych. These, and the other furnishings, were all designed by Chatwin, including the pulpit, which is situated at the eastern end of the nave; installed in 1885, it is of alabaster and marble, with biblical scenes in relief, and is integral with the truncated remains of the chancel screen. The Erdington chapel has a timber barrel-vaulted roof, mosaic floor and houses monuments to the Erdington family. In addition to the Hardman windows at the east end, there is further stained glass of the mid- and late C19 to the north and south aisles, Erdington chapel, and tower. Makers include Hardman and Co, Lavers and Barraud, Alexander Gibbs and Heaton, Butler and Bayne. A window of the C18, by Francis Eginton, is resited above the north door, now leading to the attached church centre.

MONUMENTS: The church has an important collection of effigies and mural monuments, dating in a wide range from the medieval period to the C19. In general, those to the Holte family of Aston Hall are situated in the north aisle, and those to the Erdingtons in the Erdington Chapel. There are further mural monuments sited in the north and south aisles, the Erdington Chapel, and under the tower. The monuments include the following, though the list is not exhaustive. An alabaster knight of circa 1360 and a sandstone lady of circa 1490 lying together on a tomb chest; said to be a C16 amalgamation of the two original tomb chests, possibly commemorating Ralph Arden and Elizabeth, wife of Robert Arden, and probably moved here from Maxstoke, his home. Sir Thomas Erdington (died 1433) and wife Joan or Anne Harcourt (died 1417); he is in armour, she in a long skirt and mantle, set on a chest tomb with carved shields and angels; probably erected circa 1460. Another similar effigy, probably to Sir William Harcourt (died 1482 or later), on a chest tomb with carved angels. William Holte (died 1514) and his wife, both effigies in sandstone, on a chest tomb. Portrait bust of 1883 of John Rogers, MA (died 1555); born in Deritend, Birmingham in 1500, Rogers was instrumental in the translation and revision of the Matthews Bible, which became the standard translation in 1537; he was burned at the stake in 1555 as part of Mary Tudor's persecution of Protestants. A mural monument with the kneeling figures of Edward Holte (died 1592) and his wife, Dorothy, set in a recess with Corinthian columns. Effigies of Sir Edward Devereux (died 1622) and his wife Katherine, on an altar tomb, in black marble and alabaster, under a pediment carried on Corinthian columns. A fine monument of the early C18, with weeping putti, to Sir Thomas Holte (died 1654) who built nearby Aston Hall. A draped tablet to Henry Charles (died 1700), servant to the Holte family for 33 years. A highly architectural monument to Sir John Bridgman (died 1710) by James Gibbs, 1726. Mural monument in the Baroque style, to Sir Charles Holte (died 1722). Mural monument to Robert Holden (died 1730) and wife Laetitia (died 1751) by Michael Rysbrack, 1753, with angel heads. A portrait medallion with mourner to Sir Charles Holte (died 1782). A sarcophagus on lion feet, to Sir Lister Holte, by Westmacott, 1794. John Feeney (1809-1899), benefactor of the church, an Arts and Crafts plaque with classical surround and figures, by George Frampton, 1901.

HISTORY: A church at Aston is recorded in the Domesday Book (1086), when Aston was a much more significant settlement than Birmingham, valued at 100 shillings as opposed to Birmingham's 20 shillings. At times during the Middle Ages the advowson was held by members of the de Erdington family; Thomas de Erdington founded a chantry in the church in 1449, and the family are commemorated in the Erdington Chapel in the current church. From the mid-C16 until 1818, the advowson descended with the manor of Aston, falling to the prominent Holte family who built nearby Aston Hall in the early C17 and remained lords of the manor for some 200 years. Members of the Holte family have monuments in the present church. Later in the C19, the advowson was with the Aston Trustees, with whom it has stayed.

The earliest surviving part of the current church is a small amount of C14 stonework set in the north aisle wall, though this is not legible as part of the earlier church building. The west tower was built during the C15, and its spire renewed by John Cheshire in 1776-7. Drawings indicate that during the early C19, the church had a chancel with an east window of circa 1300 of three lights and intersecting tracery, and with three south windows. The nave had a low-pitched roof, and the blocked head of a former chancel arch showed above the low-pitched chancel roof. The south aisle had three south lancet windows and C18 or early-C19 east window, above which was the blocked pointed head of the earlier east window. The mullions of the aisle and clerestory windows had been removed in 1790 when the roof and interior of the church had been restored.

Julius Alfred Chatwin, the foremost church architect in Birmingham in the later C19, set about rebuilding the church during the later C19; construction was carried out in phases from 1879. The construction of the chancel and Erdington Chapel was anonymously funded by John Feeney, owner of the Birmingham Post; Feeney was buried at the church, and is commemorated with a memorial by George Frampton, RA. The chancel and south chapel were complete by 1883, and the nave finished in 1889. The final elements, including the south porch, were not completed until 1908, the year after Chatwin's death. The building incorporated embellishments from the earlier church on the site, including some C19 stained glass, and fragments of the medieval phases, including a C14 piscina, resited in the south aisle. The south chapel was created as the Erdington Chapel, to house monuments to that family. A wide range of monuments from the earlier church was incorporated into the new building, ranged along the north and south aisles, north and south sides of the chancel, and in the Erdington Chapel.

A glass and metal-framed meeting room was inserted into the north aisle during the later C20. A church centre was built to the north-west in 1980, linked to the church on the north side. In 2009, a cruciform baptismal pool was added to the dais in front of the chancel.

SOURCES: Colvin, H, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects (4th edn, 2008), 249-50
Foster, A, Pevsner Architectural Guides: Birmingham (2007), 279-81
Griffin, P and Griffin, P, Aston Parish Church: A History and Guide (2009)
Pevsner, N and Wedgwood, A, The Buildings of England: Warwickshire (1966), 146-8
History of the County of Warwick (Victoria County History), Volume 7: City of Birmingham (1964), 374-6

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The Anglican Church of SS Peter and Paul, Aston, is designated at Grade II*, for the following principal reasons:
* The west tower is an impressive, substantial survival from the C15, with an elegant spire added in 1776-7 by John Cheshire
* The remainder of the church, built to designs by J A Chatwin in 1879-1908, is a high-quality composition in a Gothic style, large in scale and rich in detail
* The interior has a sumptuous east end with a wealth of carved decoration, and an excellent suite of furnishings designed by Chatwin, complemented by good stained glass windows in opulent colours by Hardman and Co
* Its important relationship to Aston Hall and its owners, the Holte family, for whom this was their family church, and numbers of whom are commemorated here
* The church houses a large number of funerary monuments dating from the medieval period to the C19, all of good quality, and unusual in their spread and the extent of their survival

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

Reasons for Listing

The list entry for the Church of SS Peter and Paul, Aston, is amended for the following principal reasons:
* Further information about the history of the church has come to light as part of the current project which adds to our understanding of the building
* An updated list entry will better reflect the building's special interest and help to inform its future management

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