Looking at Buildings

, printed from the Looking at Buildings website on Friday 19th July 2019

St Paul's Church

Birmingham, St Paul's Church

ST PAUL'S CHURCH, St Paul's Square.
Open: Fri Sat Sun Mon 1000-1600

The last survivor of the town's 18the century churches. Built in 1777-9 to designs by Roger Eykyn of Wolverhampton, with the upper part of the tower and spireGlossary Term [1] added in 1822-3, designed by Francis Goodwin. Bomb damage was repaired by J.B. Surman, 1949-51; much of the roof was replaced. The site, near the far NW end of the Newhall Estate, was given by Charles Colmore, and undoubtedly chosen to stimulate development. Eykyn's design was altered after criticism by Samuel Wyatt and a James Gibson of London. It is very much a pattern book church of the period, heavily dependent on James Gibbs' St Martin-in-the-Fields and St Peter, Vere Street, London as published in his Book of Architecture (1728). The exterior is a heavy five bayGlossary Term [2] box with projecting pedimented square E chancelGlossary Term [3] and W tower, and slightly recessed W corners enclosing porches. The elevations have rusticated quoinsGlossary Term [4], and to N and S, two tiers of windows with Gibbs-style blockedGlossary Term [5] surrounds, round-headedGlossary Term [6] above segmental, like T.F. Pritchard's St John, Wolverhampton of 1756-9. Big Venetian E window in a relieving archGlossary Term [7]. Pedimented doorways also with blockedGlossary Term [8] surrounds. CorniceGlossary Term [9] with massive consoles. Goodwin's tower follows Eykyn's intended design in its two diminishing octagonal stages and a spireGlossary Term [10], but its details are fashionably Greek: the lower octagon with IonicGlossary Term [11] columns set into the diagonals, and the spireGlossary Term [12] delicately divided into four stages, the lowest with angle pilasters and all with tiny windows.

The interior, with IonicGlossary Term [13] arcades and an elliptical plaster tunnel vaultGlossary Term [14], is equally Gibbsian. The aisles have groined vaults. The arcades stand on square piers which support the galleries, and their top mouldings continue as the baseGlossary Term [15] mouldingGlossary Term [16] of the galleryGlossary Term [17] fronts, Elegant E window surround by Samuel Wyatt, 1791, with Greek IonicGlossary Term [18] half-columns and pilasters, and oval medallions. Its pedimentGlossary Term [19] is by Surman, 1950. Many original C18 fittings. Plain BOX PEWS with fielded panels, H hinges and, a Birmingham touchGlossary Term [20], enamel numberplates. At the W end, VICAR'S and CHURCHWARDENS' PEWS in elliptical coved recesses. Flanking the door, BEADLES' SEATS. - CHOIRGlossary Term [21] STALLS incorporating C18 panellingGlossary Term [22]. - FONTGlossary Term [23]. C19. White IonicGlossary Term [24] capitalGlossary Term [25] on a pink granite stem. - MONUMENTS. The most delightful is around the E window of the S aisleGlossary Term [26], by Peter Hollins, 1880, to William Hollins and his family. Carrara marble. Bust in RomanGlossary Term [27] dress, tablets to the family with the 'fruitful vine' and 'olive plants' of Psalm 128, and delightful sculptured surround. Contemporary STAINED GLASS by Ward & Hughes. Next to it going W, Richard Mico Wise d.1826, a tapering grave chest on ornate lions' feet and an earthy cherub in the predellaGlossary Term [28], by Seaborne. E wall of S galleryGlossary Term [29], Sarah d.1805, Eleanor d.1807 and John d.1824 Legge, oval tablet with soul ascending to a heavenly crownGlossary Term [30], by (William) Hollins, E wall of S galleryGlossary Term [31]. In the NW corner several with weeping branches, e.g. William Redfern d.1820 etc. by Peter Hollins. Others by J. Richardson. Small tablets on the pierGlossary Term [32] fronts. - STAINED GLASS. The E window, The Conversion of St Paul, is an important piece of 1791, designed by Benjamin West and made by Francis Eginton. In the BaroqueGlossary Term [33] style West used at Windsor Castle in the 1780s. The technique involves a double thickness of glass painted on inner and outer surfaces. NaveGlossary Term [34] SE by Ward & Hughes c.1880; the rest, mainly patterns, by Pearce, 1900-7. N aisleGlossary Term [35], 2000, by Rachel Thomas. - ORGAN by George Hollins, 1838, reconstructed by Conacher, Sheffield & Co. in 1927 when it was moved from the W galleryGlossary Term [36] to the NE corner of the naveGlossary Term [37] by Marcus O. Type, with an additional case facing the galleryGlossary Term [38] by H. Ravenscroft Richards. - ROYAL ARMS, W galleryGlossary Term [39], by John Poole, 1996, but of George III. CHURCHYARD laid out by the city council in 1895-6, retaining some early C19 tombs.

Last updated: Monday, 26th January 2009