A Short History and description of St Peter's, Maney
Once the railway from the centre of Birmingham was extended to Sutton Coldfield in 1862, there was a rapid growth of population in the town.
Holy Trinity, the parish church, was not large enough to cope with the growing size of its congregation, so the Revd Riland Bedford, the then Vicar, funded a prefabricated church in Church Road in 1877 for the residents of the Maney area. The Church, known as “Maney Iron Church” was the work of Messrs Kent of London. It would seat nearly 400 people and was built of corrugated iron and lined throughout with felt and then match boarded.
An artist's impression of Maney Iron Church
The congregation at Maney then grew steadily, but before long, moves were afoot to build a larger and more permanent church for the area. Land was purchased in Maney Hill Road from Emmanuel College in 1903 for the new church.
The architect for the scheme was Ernest C Bewlay from the Church Architectural Practice known as Cossins Peacock and Bewlay. The committee appointed to supervise the building works wanted a church with a capacity for 600 people, but they could not foresee being able to raise the necessary funding. They opted for a church with a capacity for 400, which would be modifiable later to a capacity of 600. The builder was Thomas Elvins of Soho Hill, Birmingham..
Plan 1905 Church as built Early photo of the Church circa 1905
The Foundation Stone can be seen before entering the church, to the left of the North Porch. It was laid by Lord Leigh in an elaborate Masonic Ceremony, with the trowel used by Christopher Wren for the laying of the foundation stone of St Paul’s Cathedral. The church was consecrated on 28 June 1905 by the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt. Revd Charles Gore. The Diocese of Birmingham had been formed 2 weeks earlier when the Diocese of Worcester was divided.
At first Maney remained a “District” of Holy Trinity, the Church being a “Chapel of Ease”. It was afforded full parochial status on 11th February 1907.
It is believed that St Peter was chosen as the patron saint for the new church because the site would become ready for the laying of the foundation stone on or near St Peter’s Day, and also because St Peter is the patron saint of the cathedral in Exeter where John Vesey was Bishop, and St Peter was not otherwise represented in the Bishop’s home town of Sutton Coldfield.
In the late 1920’s it was thought necessary to extend the church and complete the development of the 1905 proposals. The one departure from the original plan was the siting of the tower at the south west corner of the church instead of the northwest. It was further positioned outside the line of the adjacent west wall to allow extension of the church still further if the size of the congregation should grow large enough to warrant it.
The same architect, Ernest C Bewlay was used for the design and management of the extension. The cost of the development of the Tower was met from a legacy bequeathed by Mrs John Watson in memory of her husband. The extension was consecrated by Bishop E W Barnes on 29th September 1935.
Plan of the Church The Present Church
The church is claimed to be a free adoption of late 14th Century style.. It is built of a plum coloured brick with details and tracery of Doulton Grey/Buff Terracotta. Inside a lighter reddish brick is used with a greenish Quadrella stone from the Forest of Dean. The stone piers are continued above in brick without a break
Interesting Arts and Crafts detail occurs in the brickwork at the West end. The tower has some cut brick decoration. Rain water heads are cast with grotesque heads and honesty flowers.
Inside the Church a wide arch across the entrance to the chancel attracts the eye to the altar and the Sanctuary windows.
View of the Sanctuary from the Nave
There are several examples in the church of the work of Sidney Harold Meteyard R.B.S.A. (1868 – 1947), a glass painter and illustrator who was an original member of the Birmingham Group of Artists and a teacher at the School of Art. Burne Jones was the main influence on his style
The main feature of the Sanctuary is the Reredos.
It was designed and made by Bridgemans of Lichfield from polished Staffordshire Alabaster. It shows the Crucifixion and the feeding of the five thousand. On either side are stained glass windows depicting four archangels; on the left (North), Michael and Gabriel, and on the right (South), Uriel and Raphael. There is also some attractive wood panelling in the Sanctuary. Shields on the top of the wood panelling show aspects of the Crucifixion.
The arch in the centre of the Chancel is surmounted by a stained glass window provided by a family from the congregation in memory of their son who was killed in the First World War. A soldier is included to the right of the stained glass. The title of the window is “Christ the Consoler”. It was designed by J Cruwrs Richards of W Pearce Ltd of Birmingham.
Christ the Consoler
Memorial boards are provided on the left hand (North) side to the fallen from the parish in World War II :
and on the right hand side (South) to the fallen in World War I :
The organ is on the right hand side of the chancel . It was built by Nicholsons of Worcester., The original organ was installed in time for the consecration of the church in 1905, but has had several modifications and improvements since.
The pulpit was given in 1907 by two members of the congregation.. It was designed by Bridgeman’s of Lichfield and above is a sounding board or canopy which is richly carved with shields bearing various ecclesiastical symbols. Carved beneath the canopy is a model of a pelican pecking her breast as if to give blood to feed her young. This is symbolic of Christ giving his blood for the redemption of mankind.
The Lady Chapel
The Chapel was designed by the Birmingham architect Charles Edward Bateman, who was also the architect for the adjacent Vicarage. Bateman was well known for his Arts and Crafts and Queen Anne-style houses and commercial buildings
The Reredos of the Lady Chapel
The Reredos was painted by Meteyard. The central panel represents the risen Christ with the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, and the side panels depict adoring angels. The style is Pre- Raphaelite.
The ceiling of the chapel is decorated with gold stars and the name Maria in ornate letters. The work was carried out by a craftsman named Mr Kruger and involved treating the ceiling with glue and size before applying the paint.
The ceiling of the Lady Chapel
The stained glass windows in the north wall depict (left to right) the Annunciation, the Birth of Christ and the Presentation at the Temple.
Stained glass in the North Wall of the Lady Chapel
The West Wall of the Church
There are several stained glass windows in the West wall, all the work of Sydney Meteyard. At the lower level are four windows showing the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The Four Evangelists
Above is the Rose Window. The roundels in the Rose window illustrate Jesus’s sayings – ‘I am the door’, ‘I am the light’, ‘I am the bread of life’ and ‘I am the true vine’.
The Rose Window
A small cross in the brickwork of the West wall, towards the south end shows where Bishop Barnes rested his hand when he consecrated the extension of the church in 1935.
In the North wall of the Tower is another stained glass window by Meteyard. It was provided in memory of a child (Mirabelle Feeney) from the congregation who died at an early age. It is said to represent a child stepping from darkness into heaven’s own light.
The Mirabelle Feeney Window
Further reading is available in 2 books which can be viewed in Sutton Coldfield Library when it re-opens. They are currently out of print
The books are ;
1.”St Peter’s Maney: A short history of the Parish”, produced for the 75th Anniversary in 1980.
2. “MANEY: The History of a Parish,” produced for the Centenary celebrations in 2005.