For a history of the church, see The Church of St James, Stirchley.
Above: Watercolour of St James' Church, Stirchley by Rev. E Willams 1789.
Image from South Telford Heritage Trail website http://www.walktelfordheritage.co.uk. Personal and educational use permitted.
It is interesting to note how few gravestones there were at this time.
Above: Watercolour of Stirchley Church by John Holmes Smith c1850
(Downloaded from the internet, though origin unknown.)
Note the increase in the number of gravestones in the 60 years since the first painting, a sign of the increasing wealth of some families.
Note, too, the alteration of the east window. The original upper Norman window has been blocked and the lower replaced by a much larger, though still Norman-style window. This in its turn was replaced by a copy of the original window in the later years of the century and the upper window was reopened, as can be seen in the photograph below taken in 2010.
The parish chest dates from the 16th century and was used to store documents such parish registers. These were made compulsory from the time of Henry VIII and the chest may well have been made specially to comply with this requirement.
The communion table dates from the 17th century. Prior there was probably a stone altar. By the 17th century these were considered Popish and were replaced in most churches by movable tables which could be brought down into the nave for the celebration of Holy Communion.
It is ironic that a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the Infant Christ now stands on the table.
In Memory of
Edward Cooke Gent. and
Alice his wife late of
And five of their Daughters.
All lie near this place
Catherine Sarah Rachel and Anne.
Alice died January ye 22d 1755
Aged 89 years.
Also near this place lieth ye Body
of Bridgett Baroness Cheshire
Died November 5th 1755 Aged 63.
The Parish Register records in Latin:
1680 Sep. 9. Edwardus Cooke, generosus ... sep.
ie. Edward Cooke, gentleman ... buried.
1710 June 7. Alicia Cooke, vidua ... sep.
ie. Alice Cooke, widow ... buried
1755 Nov. 5. Baronas Cheshire, p. of Wrockwardine ... bur.
(Baronas/ Baroness is part of a double-barrelled surname and not a noble title.)
On the south wall of the nave is an escutcheon bearing the arms of Thomas Clowes, who was buried here 19 October 1748. His coat of arms is described as:
Azure on a chevron engrailed between three unicorns' heads erased or as many crescents gules. Crest, a demi-lion rampant sable, ducally crowned or, supporting a battleaxe of the last, headed argent.
The Latin motto, Mors Janua Vitae means 'Death is the Door of Life'.
There was formerly a benefaction board here:
Oct. 15th, 1748. Thomas Clowes, Gentleman, gave by his will to the poor of Stirchley the yearly sum of twenty Shillings, payable out of Stirchley Hall Estates, to be distributed on St. Thomas's Day by the Churchwardens and Overseers.- May 20, 1839. - H.M. Phillips Rector. Wm. Smith, Churchwarden.
The church is open from time to time and manned by volunteers. It is possible to gain access at other times by arrangement with the keyholder at the Old Rectory of St James next door to the church.
See the Old Rectory's website for contact details