St Georges Edgbaston
This church is St Georges Edgbaston. It is on what is now a traffic island around Westbourne Crescent.
It is Grade II listed.
A church, built in three distinct phases, to the designs of Joseph John Scoles (1836-8), Charles Edge (1855-7) and J.A.Chatwin (1884-5). The building is of sandstone with a slate roof. The ritual east end is oriented to the south-east compass point and directions in this description refer to ritual orientation. The two southern aisles formed part of the original church of 1836-8. To these a chancel, north-eastern vestry and clock tower were added in 1855-7 and in 1884-5 a larger nave and chancel were attached to the south side, replacing the former south aisle.
EXTERIOR: The original church designed by J.J.Scoles was relatively simple, with a nave and aisles under separate pitched roofs and no chancel. The north aisle has six bays of lancet windows, divided by buttresses, with a simple corbel table below the parapet. There is a door to the western end of the aisle and a gabled porch to the west end. An illustration of 1847 shows the west end to have a more-elaborate gable treatment with pinnacles and a rose window (perhaps blind) and it may be that these details were removed in the bomb damage of 1943. The Charles Edge chancel of 1855-7 continues the overall style of the Scoles building with lancets to the north and east sides and on the vestry. The octagonal clock tower is set in the re-entrant angle between the north aisle and the chancel. The Chatwin nave and chancel of 1884-5 continues this pattern of respectful adaptation and its south aisle reproduces the overall pattern of the north aisle, although it is lower, to accommodate a clerestory above, which has paired lights with cusped heads. The chancel has an eastern window of five lancet lights. To its south side is the lowest stage of a planned steeple which, together with its circular staircase turret, is capped by a temporary pitched roof.
INTERIOR: The Nave and north aisle of 1836-8 remain largely intact. The nave has a panelled ceiling with two circular, metal, ventilation grilles to the centre. The tall, slender columns which divide nave from aisle consist of clusters of colonettes with waterholding moulding to the base. The mouldings to the underside of the north gallery survive inside the parish room and the gallery appears to have its original bench seating with pipes for gas standards to the backs. Apart from this the former seating has been removed.
The chancel by Charles Edge originally had the Ten Commandments in black lettering to its East wall, but following the re-fitting as a Lady chapel in 1935 this is now covered by a reredos and panelling. The screen dividing this space from the body of the nave also appears to date from this period, or slightly earlier.
The nave and south aisle by Chatwin follow the module of Scoles' church, to the extent that the columns are placed at the same distance [and presumably use some of the earlier foundations]. The nave is divided into bays by colonettes and every two clerestory windows correspond to one arch of the nave arcade. The exception is at the eastern end, where the arcade arch at each side is a full two bays in width. The substantial roof has cusped wind braces and trusses with queen struts.
The fittings include an ashlar and alabaster font and matching pulpit, richly carved choir stalls and an organ with case designed by Chatwin and carved by Bridgeman which was placed in the lower stage of the unfinished tower. The stained glass is particularly good, with memorial windows by Kempe in the Lady chapel (Tree of Jesse), Heaton, Butler and Bayne, John Hardman and Burlison and Grylls. The floor is tiled to the body of the church and there are mosaic pavements in the chancel depicting the Evangelists and St. George. The royal coat of arms of oak which now hangs on the west wall was carved in 1839 and formerly hung on the front of the western gallery.
HISTORY: In 1831 Samuel Wheeley left £500 to build a new church or chapel in the parish of Edgbaston. The site for the church, formerly known as Tinsel Field, was given by Lord Calthorpe, together with the rest of the cost of building the church (almost £6,000). This first building by J.J. Scoles, had a capacity of nearly 1,000 worshipers, of which 200 were free places. The building was originally a chapel of ease to St. Peter's Harbourne, but in 1852 St George's became a parish. In 1849 pillar gas lighting was installed, some pipe-work of which still survives in the north gallery. The congregation grew and Charles Edge was commissioned to design a new chancel and attached vestry and clock tower at the eastern end of the church, completed by 1857. The new chancel was used to accommodate added seating and not primarily as a ritual space. The congregation continued to grow. A new vicar, the Revd. Charles Ansfield, was appointed in 1883 and in 1884 plans were drawn up by J.A.Chatwin for a large, new nave and chancel attached to the south side of the building at a cost c. £6,000. By 1891 the font, pulpit, choir stalls and screens had all been fitted, as had the mosaic chancel floors. The notable series of memorial stained glass windows were added at the end of the C19 and in the early years of the C20. The former chancel was converted to a Lady Chapel in 1935. In 1936 the north aisle under the gallery was enclosed and equipped as a choir vestry and now serves as a parish room. The church was damaged by wartime bombing in 1943 at the west end of the Scoles nave.
SOURCES: Andy Foster, Birmingham - Pevsner City Guides, 2005, 223-4; J.C.Harknes & J.R.H.Pinkess, St. George's Church Edgbaston 1838-1998, 2nd Ed.; Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, 2nd Edition, 855 [where the Scoles church is wrongly recorded as 'rebuilt'], 330 [reference to Edge drawings 349-52 in Birmingham Reference Library].
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The Church of St. George, Westbourne Crescent, Edgbaston is designated for the following principal reasons:
* The church has clear architectural quality and was designed by three architects of note, namely Joseph John Scoles, Charles Edge and C. A. Chatwin.
* The two later designs respect the pattern of the earliest and this helps to give the building coherence.
* The church has fittings of quality, including a notable set of stained glass memorial windows to the chancel, Lady chapel and south aisle by Burlison and Grylls, Kempe, Hardman and others.
From Westbourne Road.