CHURCHES & CHAPELS
Hallow Parish Church
(St. Philip & St. James)
(St. Philip & St. James)
The ecclesiastical parish of Hallow was originally part of a much larger parish: in 1877 it was separated from Grimley, in 1910 Broadheath, hitherto part of Hallow became a separate parish and in 1940 Comer Gardens District detached from Hallow to become part of the parish of St. Clements. The earliest church in Hallow was a small stone building on the bank of the river at the end of Church Lane. Nash, the Worcestershire historian, says that it had Saxon masonry over the North Door. It is recorded in 1552 that the old church had ‘one steeple bell, a little sacrynge bell’ and a little lynch bell’. In 1740 there were five bells; one had the inscription ’Cum tonat hoc signum, hostat fugat Anna malignum’. It is believed to have been cast in the foundry in Sidbury over 500 years ago. This bell hung in Hallow Church until 1900 when it was removed to the new church in Broadheath.
The old Hallow church fell into decay and was demolished in 1830. All that remains are some flat stones surrounded by railings to mark its position in the old churchyard. The memorials from it are placed on the walls of the present church where there is also a painting depicting the old church. The old church was replaced by a simple construction on the same site that served until the present church was built in 1869.
The church was designed by Worcester architect, Mr. W. Jeffrey Hopkins and is a good example of Victorian Gothic style. It is built of sandstone quarried locally at Holt. The foundation stone was laid by Frederick Lygon, 6th Earl of Beauchamp on March 5th 1867 and the church was consecrated two years later by the Bishop of Worcester Rt. Rev. Henry Philpott.
The flying buttresses that support the roof are a notable feature of the design but proved so costly to construct that the addition of the tower was delayed until 1879. Donations of £2800 were collected by Mrs. Lord of Hallow Park to erect the 67 foot tower. Principal benefactors were Mrs. Lord, Mr. Charles Wheeley Lea and the First Earl of Dudley. The spire was added in 1900 by Mrs. Wheeley Lea of Parkfield, in memory of her husband who died two years earlier. Her grave is near the south porch.
The inaugural peal of bells was rung on February 1st 1902. The church has three stained glass windows, the remainder having lights of clear and tinted glass. Although a village church, it is of generous size and in a prominent position on high ground. Its spire is a landmark for miles around.
Hallow Non-Conformist Chapel, Moseley Road
The chapel, a place of worship for almost 150 years, was erected in 1831, owned by Thomas Bright and leased to the Baptist Society. In 1854 the premises was acquired by Thomas Rowley Hill, Liberal politician and mayor of Worcester and later MP for Worcestershire. The following year it was refurbished and registered for marriages.
From 1862 to 1873 George Edwards was appointed as ‘Evangelist’ for Hallow and nearby villages. In the latter years of the 19th century congregations of 50 attended Sunday evening and week night services and around 70 children attended Sunday School. In 1888 Whit Sunday festivities enabled 70 young people to tuck into ‘ample refreshments’, participate in games and singing and enjoy a magic lantern show.
In 1903 despite some ‘opposition’ that is recorded, attendance continued to flourish, with a ‘Band of Hope’ formed with 30 members, its objective to teach children the importance of sobriety and teetotalism. A ‘Thursday evening Brotherhood’ was formed in 1908 with 62 members. Between the wars attendance began to decline with Sunday School numbers falling from 45 in 1926 to 22 ten years later. Mr A Browne was Superintendent in 1925 followed by Mr. A E Allen. Berrows newspaper of 1937 reports a concert in the parish hall organised by Mr Allen and the Members and Friends of the Congregational Chapel in aid of the ‘Empire and Homeland Bazaar’. A selection of songs, sketches and monologues were performed by The Angel St. Choir and Players with Mr J. Banks of Hallow Park in the Chair.
A 71 year old retired Congregational minister, Rev. AJ Owens, and his wife moved into the Manse to take up duties in the chapel until 1940 when he was replaced by Mr Mark GC Wilder who remained in post until 1960. In 1940 trustees were appointed for the property by Angel Street Church under the auspices of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. By 1949 only 4 members and 12 Sunday school children were recorded.
In 1960 Peter Russell was appointed Superintendent who, with his aunt Mrs G W Williams, did much to serve the chapel and the community of Hallow. In 1965 the chapel became a self-governing Congregational Church, no longer tied to Angel St. Church in Worcester (now Tramps nightclub). By 1968 numbers had risen to 15 members and 20 in Sunday School. Mr Russell is remembered as living in Worcester and for his instruction of the older children in the 1970s. A number of members of the congregation lived in Oakleigh Avenue including the organist Mr Wilder.
Following the union of the Presbyterian and Congregational Church in England and Wales in 1972, the chapel became ‘Hallow United Reformed Church’ and four years later Peter Russell was formally recognised by URC as the ‘Presiding Elder’ in charge of Hallow.
The chapel finally closed its doors on Sunday April 30th 1978 following the retirement of its caretaker for 25 years Mrs FL Booth(who lived in the cottage behind the chapel) and of its Elder Peter Russell and his aunt. (Mrs Booth’s wonderful cottage garden, home-made brown bread and beetroot sandwiched are fondly remembered)The congregation of up to 50 transferred to Albany Terrace United Reformed Church.
The chapel was sold at auction later that year for £16,100 (including 60 chairs) by Mr Alan Barnett. Significant alterations were made to the property. Mr Barnett lived there until 1982 when it was sold to Mr and Mrs A C Briggs for £34,650. They remained there for 10 years, selling to Malcolm and Shirley Wood in 1992.
A puzzling detail is a Jewish Mezuzah prayer discovered fastened to the doorpost by the present owners Paul and Jane Wilcox when they moved into the property in July 2014. Their research has formed the basis of this history. Many thanks to them and others who have shared their memories.