Architectural History

Architectural features

St John’s was built as an estate church to the now demolished Perry Hall: the foundation stone was laid in 1831 and it was consecrated in 1833.  It was originally a much simpler building than now, with just a single aisle nave and vestries to the side, and a bell tower at the west end.  The architect is named as Robert Studholme, a stonemason from Sutton Coldfield.  Although not a Commissioners’ Church, it is a good example of ‘pre-architectural gothick’.  On the outside of the church on the north side the emblem of the Gough family who built the church is picked out in stone. The original windows are of particular interest: simple two light windows line the nave, and there are two single light windows at the west end.  The window furnishing are quite un-gothic, with Georgian-style iron work (painted white) and diamond window panes, some of which are frosted.  Most of the nave windows are clear.  Originally the church and tower had rather splendid (though aesthetically rather extravagant) pinnacles, but these were removed as unsafe in the 20th century.  Inside the pews are likely to be original, but must have been traditional box pews.  At some stage in the 19th century the doors were removed and the rear of the pews tilted.  The clock in the tower is dated 1838.

The church was enlarged in the 1880s with the addition of a chancel and sanctuary and two transepts, as well as additional vestries.  These are in a straightforward but mature decorated style.  The architect was the well-known Birmingham architect John Chatwin, and the quality of the build and also the interior fittings are considerably superior to the original 1833 church.  The stonework is much better quality, and inside the quality of carving on the choir and clergy stalls are much more typical of good Victorian craftsmanship.  The marble font dates from this time, as do a number of other fittings.

The original east window was lost when the church was enlarged, but the stained glass windows of note are a fine Hardman window of the Epiphany in the south transept, a Pearce & Cutler window of Jesus teaching in the north transept (1938), and a Camm window of John the Baptist in an alcove behind the organ.  There are other less interesting stained glass windows in the sanctuary and the nave.

The north transept was refitted as a Lady Chapel in 1938 when the Pearce & Cutler window was installed.  It is a good example of confident Anglo-Catholicism in a parish which had been rural 20 years before but because of inter-war housing had suddenly become suburban.  A confidence which continues to this day in the liturgical and spiritual life of the church.  A tabernacle was installed on a 19th century altar, and a painting of the Virgin and child was placed above the altar; this was cleaned and restored in 2017, and depicts a local scene as well as the Birmingham cityscape.  In the 1970s a statue of Mary was added, which was replaced by the current statue of Our Lady of Walsingham in the 1980s.  Stations of the Cross were erected in the nave in the 1970s.


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