Stoke-upon-Trent

Friends of Stoke Minster

From Pagan Worship to Stoke Minster

The first ever Seminar on the rich intriguing History of St. Peter ad Vincula and its ancient parish of Stoke-upon-Trent from the time of the Celts was on held on 6th October. Because its success – 

Thomas Minton, Master Potter.

©Dr Richard Talbot MBE, Author and Historian

Thomas Minton was one of a number the famous potters towards the end of the eighteenth century such as Spode, Whieldon and Wedgwood. He was born Shrewsbury in 1766 commencing his employment in the 1780s as an apprentice transfer print and engraver specialising in copperplate engraving for the production of transferware. Upon his completion of his apprenticeship with Thomas Turner of Caughley China Works he went to London where he executed commissions for Spode and others. Whilst there he married Miss Sarah Webb shortly afterwards he and his wife removed to Stoke. After twenty-six years of engraving Minton decided to try his hand at potting for himself by this time he had already engraved the famous Willow pattern, adapted from a design of Chinese origin.

At Stoke he rented one of four houses in a rather dilapidated condition and shored up with timber that had been built by Thomas Whieldon called Bridge House at the junction of what was Whieldon Road and Church Street and directly opposite to what remains as Wharf Street. In April of that year wat the ages of thirty-three Minton and set up his own pottery factory for the manufacture of white glazed earthenware tableware in 1793.

The 1790s was a time of major changes to the geography of Stoke with the cutting of two major transport facilities, first the turnpike road to Hanford (London Road) and then the canal from Stoke to Newcastle both opening up development opportunities in town.

This created the ideal opportunity for Minton to set up his own works as an ideal plot of land in the town of Stoke became available. In 1775 John Ward left considerable property to his orphaned grandson John Ward Hassells who was first to be cared for by his servant until the age of twelve when he would be enrolled into a grammar school. By 1780 he had drawn up plans for the development of several plots. By 1793 these came onto the market. One such plot was purchased by Thomas Minton described then as an engraver.

In 1796 Minton went into partnership with Joseph Paulson who was already producing china (porcelain containing bone ash) at a factory on land he purchased in 1792 situated just across the road from Minton. (the current site for Sainsburys) Mintons factory was in fact situated almost opposite – an area best described as bounded by Hide Street, Spark Street and London Road where the current flats are being built. He also purchased a further plot adjacent to Paulson in what was to become London Road. It was on this plot that Minton first built himself a home and a small factory in addition to that on the other side of the road comprising of a single biscuit oven and one glost oven with a slip house for preparing clay and only such other buildings and appliances as were necessary to enable production to be commenced. By 1796 Minton had commenced the manufacture of white glazed earthen tableware or pearlware including blue transfer printed and painted wares which would form the major products of the factory during the first year or so trading as Minton and Paulson.

The Paulson’s family had lived in Stoke for several centuries and up to Wedgwood’s time his house was the only one of any importance. A short street off Hill Street carries the name of Poulson. Shortly following the partnership Mr William Pounall offered considerable financial assistance and entered into the business as a sleeping partner trading under the name Minton, Pounall and Poulson. They produced chiefly printed earthenware, and from the outset the business was successful. Later, both Pounall and Poulson retired leaving Minton in sole charge of the business. Paulson died in 1808. In 1824 Minton built a new factory to accommodate the expanding demands for his products.

Variations of his Willow and other designs were acquired by Spode and other factories, and it was in the context that the English willow pattern was created. It is also to Minton that it is attributed the popular ‘Buffalo’ patterns which he engraved for Spode. In this he was assisted by engraver Henry Doncaster of Penkhull where the lane nearby is named after him. William Greatbatch, a former pupil of Doncaster became the chief engraver at Spode and there is an avenue named after him around the corner from that of Doncaster.

Sales books covering the years 1796-1803 show that the entries for the first-year were made from the May of that year sold by the crate or cask and those between 1801-1803 sales of earthenware amount to £522. 7s 4d was sold to Josiah Wedgwood and Byerley, presumably for decorating.

Once becoming an established manufacturer, Minton decided to identify his products by a ‘back stamp’ and started to incorporate the initial ‘M’ in the form of a script lettering. This mark was found on the copper plates of ‘Floweret’ one of his earliest patterns. His first products were not as Minton hoped for in quality terms and so commenced the production of a new form of earthenware under the titles of ‘New Stone’, Stone China’ and ‘Opaque China’ but in reality, were all just improvements of the basic product.

In 1803 John Turner an authority on the production of black basalt became manager to Thomas Minton following the closure of his own business father due to the French wars. It is considered that his involvement saved the firm by bringing many improvements. The last ten years of the eighteenth century were devoted to blue printed, but with the coming of the new century came the development of the Staffordshire porcelain both by Minton, Spode and Davenport.

It was not until 1821 that the Minton finally began the manufacture of bone china described at the time as the “world’s most beautiful china”. However, one observer noted at the time “This early Minton china is similar in quality to the best Staffordshire porcelain of the time. The designs employed were merely in the prevailing taste, and the best that can be said of them is that they are pleasing examples of current styles, and from them no contemporary observer would have predicted the future success and fame which were to gather round the name of Minton in the world of ceramics.”

Mintons two sons, Thomas Webb and Herbert were given positions in the factory in about 1807. Thomas was more interested with clerical work and attending to orders whilst Herbert was left doing everything else. Thomas did not take too kindly to factory life, but Herbert was very energetic and quickly obtained a through understanding of the many processes, that by the age of eighteen he was appointed the representative of the factory, visiting almost every town outside the London area which was controlled by Arthur Minton, the brother of the founder, Thomas senior.

Minton’s old factor in London Road, Stoke. Now Sainsbury’s Supermarket

In 1817 both sons, Thomas and Herbert were taken into partnership. Thomas Webb decided to enter holy orders and in 1821 left Stoke to take up the position of a curate at Chesterfield and in January 1823 the title of the company known as Thomas Minton and Sons was dissolved and reverted back to the form of Thomas Minton. The termination of the partnership was brought about by the desire of Thomas Webb to study for the church. Subsequently, whilst he was the Rector of Durham, he gave the sum of £2,000 to be invested to provide a salary of a priest for the newly parish of Penkhull. It was his son, Samuel Minton who became the first incumbent of Penkhull Church.

The important role of finance was undertaken by his mother-in-law Mrs Webb, known for her business acreman and lived with the family in a house attached to the factory. It is here that their second son Herbert was born. Both boys were sent to a Dame School that once stood at the corner of High Street and Liverpool Road. During a long and successful career, Minton very much contributed to the growing prosperity of Stoke by his extensive business as a china manufacturer. He died at his home, by then not the one at the factory but one he purchased from Samuel Parkes of which many will remember s as Stoke Register Office at the bottom of Hartshill Road.

Minton was a devout Christian and when the building of the present church of St Peter ad Vincula commenced there were considerable appeals for funds and three private tombs under the church were created. Minton took the opportunity to purchase the one directly beneath the clergy vestry. The church was consecrated on the 6th October 1830 and its into this tomb that Thomas Minton, potter of Stoke was put to rest on the 4th June 1836.

The Majestic Cinema – Campbell Place

I have just written a few memories I have of the Saturday morning children’s matinee to be published in the Sentinel.

My Childhood Memories of the Majestic in Stoke

© Dr Richard Talbot MBE

In the early 1950s children’s cinema matinees were the norm and for the town of Stoke it was the ABC (Associated British Cinemas) ABC Minors Club at the old Majestic Cinema in Campbell Place, where no less than a thousand children would pay their converted six pence for a seat in the stalls and for the better-off nine pence for the circle.

In the 1950’s the average weekly attendance to children’s cinema matinees was over 1,016,000 with 1915 cinemas holding Saturday matinees whereby the notion of film clubs helped to develop the habit of going to the pictures from a young age and in the meantime gave parents a few hours to themselves knowing that their children were safe and enjoying themselves.

The format of the Children’s Cinema Matinee varied slightly between Picture Houses. At the Majestic we all received a luminous badge of our membership. It was the Children’s Film Foundation founded in 1951 that produced many cut-price children’s moves for cinema matinees balancing the gun toting thrills of American imports with good clean, adventures films laced with morals and lessons in life along with weekly serials such as Flash Gordon, Bat-Man, Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy and Zorro that kept children on the edge of their seats with a cliff-hanger at the end of every episode.

Each week the matinee would start with cartoons and the main film after the interval would be one of many including Shirley Temple or those produced by the CFF.

Half way through the manager Uncle Reg and his assistant Aunty May came on stage. Children would come up when it was their birthday – all would sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and the person would have a free ice-cream or a ticket for the following week. On occasions there were star guests and I recall Diana Day (better known as Susan the sister of Jimmy Clitheroe on the radio) who played Annie in the film Tumbled from an aeroplane coming on stage in 1955. Much of the conversation was about her having to jump from the plane with a parachute. However, the highlight of the morning was the ABC Minors Song – words on the screen to the tune of Blaze Away.

We are the boys and girls all known as, Minors of the ABC,

And every Saturday all line up, to the see the films we like and shout around with glee,

We like to laugh and have a sing song, just a happy crowd are wee,

Were all pals together, Were minors of the ABC.

This kept us entertained, first one half of the auditorium then the other to see who was the loudest. There would be talent and fancy-dress competitions where I recall coming second one year dressed as Billy Bunter. My father was over seventeen stone and borrowed a pair of his trousers and stuffed them with pillows from my bed and wore an old pair of rimmed glasses just like the TV character. On other occasions we were the first to see 3D experimental films with carboard glasses. These were frightening as a person’s hand would reach out from the screen and try and catch us. Then at Christmas we would all enjoy the party, paper hats an apple and orange and a few sweets as well as games and singing on stage with Uncle Reg and Aunty May.

Somehow, I recalled she lived in Oxford Street, Penkhull and in 1971 when I was compiling a book and wanted more information of the old Majestic, I went to the out-door in the street and asked if they remembered her. So, after a while, a friend of a friend etc. passed onto me her address where she has retired to. I recall vividly my letter to her ‘Dear Aunty May’ etc. To my surprised she replied enclosing loads of pictures of stars that used to appear as advertisements outside cinemas and many old weekly cinema programmes. She signed her letter to me simply – from you Aunty May.

 

 

I just had to research this old cinema where like many of my generation spent our childhood at the Saturday morning children’s matinee with Uncle Reg and Aunty May. Magical memories that I still cherish.

If you have memories please send in so I can paste for all to share.

Dr Richard Talbot

Stoke’s new picture theatre – formal opening of the Majestic Campbell Place, Stoke.On the invitation of the proprietors, a large number of ladies and gentlemen on Saturday afternoon attended the formal opening of the majestic, the latest picture house in the district situated in Campbell Place Stoke. The building is arch it architecturally admirable, it splendidly adapted to the use to which it is to be applied, and has so many advantages over other buildings used for the same purpose that it is certain to become very popular place of resort.

A gallery, holding around 200, is so well pitched that every seat holder can be sure of an uninterrupted view of the screen, and at the same remark applies to the holders of 800 seats on the ground floor. The seats themselves are exceedingly comfortable, and there is a roominess about the place which will be generally appreciated. In another respect the architect Mr RT Longs Den of Stoke and Burslem is to be congratulated. The building is splendidly ventilated. Notwithstanding the crowded state of the hall the atmosphere on Saturday afternoon remained practically the same throughout the 2 ½ hours that the entertainment lasted.

Early in the proceedings a message was thrown on to the screen from the Mayor and Mayoress, (Alderman Philip Elliott and Mrs Elliott), was spending a short and well-earned holiday in Harrogate, expressing regret at being unable to attend, and hoping for the place a successful future.

 

Sentinel Monday 13th of April 1914.

Stoke’s new picture theatre – formal opening of the Majestic.

On the invitation of the proprietors, a large number of ladies and gentlemen on Saturday afternoon attended the formal opening of the majestic, the latest picture house in the district situated in Campbell Place Stoke. The building is arch it architecturally admirable, it splendidly adapted to the use to which it is to be applied, and has so many advantages over other buildings used for the same purpose that it is certain to become very popular place of resort.

A gallery, holding around 200, is so well pitched that every seat holder can be sure of an uninterrupted view of the screen, and at the same remark applies to the holders of 800 seats on the ground floor. The seats themselves are exceedingly comfortable, and there is a roominess about the place which will be generally appreciated. In another respect the architect Mr RT Longs Den of Stoke and Burslem is to be congratulated. The building is splendidly ventilated. Notwithstanding the crowded state of the hall the atmosphere on Saturday afternoon remained practically the same throughout the 2 ½ hours that the entertainment lasted.

Early in the proceedings a message was thrown on to the screen from the Mayor and Mayoress, (Alderman Philip Elliott and Mrs Elliott), was spending a short and well-earned holiday in Harrogate, expressing regret at being unable to attend, and hoping for the place a successful future. One feature which is to distinguish the house of entertainment will meet with public recognition. The management has engaged a small band consisting of a piano, a violinist, a cello player, a clarinettist, and a double bass player. The men are very capable players, and have good instruments. On this occasion, they provide music which synchronised with the picture subjects. Thus, during the exhibition of the principal film, a four-part historic picture ‘Napoleon,’ the band played the Marsellaise and snatches of the famous 1812 of Tchaikovsky. Another very interesting innovation was introduced. A picture entitled happy family fields and the four little Dutchman a dancing scene-the conductor of the original performance was on the stage, from which position he conducted the orchestra. The pictures also included the Kentish industries, Tiny Tim, the Letter Writer – a drama,

With Eyes, so Blue and Tender, Troubles of a flirt, That Suit So blue, General Bunco’s victory and the Pathe Gazette. Tonight, will be given exclusively a sporting drama, in the hands of London crooks.

Description of buildings.

The site is a portion of the now dismantled factory known as Campbell works, and the theatre occupies about one third of the total main frontage to London road, the remainder of which will be developed and designed on similar lines with a central and dominating feature, and with a view of eventually making the whole an impressive building of summer hundred and 70 feet frontage worthy of Stoke upon Trent. The accommodation provided is for some 1000 persons – 800 in the auditorium, and 200 upon the balcony. Every update appliance has been introduced, and the safety and comfort of patrons made a matter of the first importance.

The whole of the building is fireproof, and there are eight exit doorways with crush halls, and the provision of every means of quickly emptying the building should emergency arise. The ventilation has been given special attention. The area of fixed outlets for ventilated air exceeds that of any other local theatre, and from these outlets a large electric fan is used to change the atmosphere as whether and other conditions dictate. The entrance to the auditorium is from Campbell Place with a capacious hall and twin staircase to the balcony for your, which is furnished in a luxurious manner, fitted with writing materials, telephone et cetera and which will eventually be connected to the cafe when the latter is completed.

The whole is designed in neo-Greek manner, and the exterior is treated in multi-coloured facing bricks, with an orderly edge stone lower story and dressings and a pantile roof. The general aim has been one of dignity in keeping with the proposed future developments of the adjoining land for businesses and offices purposes and without introducing an abundant amount of the usual methods of expressing theatrical art.

The interior is also treated architecturally with a limited amount of ornamentation, but such as is introduced is of a refined nature. The plan of the theatre is roughly October eagle, with a covered ceiling leading to a central ribbed and domed feature, lighted by concealed methods and with a until late Inc panel at the highest point. The surface decoration is in cream, with a slight relief of colour it Wedgwood blue. The whole is lighted by electricity with emergency lighting by gas. The following have been responsible for the erection, furnishing et cetera, building heating lighting et cetera Mr GH Davenport, was to stonework messes Howe and Waterbonse, Hartshill, Stoke, roofing materials Messrs Speakrer and Co and Messrs Ellis Partruidge and Co; plastering, decoration et cetera Messrs Mallin and Co, West Bromwich, electric appliances, fittings etc. Messrs Pathe Fretes and Co, Stoke ad the AEG Co; tiling etc. Barrett and Co, Stoke; seating, furniture proscenium curtains, floor coverings etc. Messrs George Fleet and Co, Stoke.

It is intended to shortly completely adjoining cafe which include a ladies’ tearoom in white and gold, gentleman smoke room in the Elizabethan style, and a billiard room with four tables et cetera all of which will be in conjunction with the theatre. The architect who have been associated in all the works and have been jointly responsible for the buildings, are Mr Reginald T Longs Den, of Stoke and Leak and Mr George Bloor, of Mrs Lynam and Bloor of Stoke.

 

 

A Brief History of the Parish Church of    St Peter ad Vincula –                     Stoke-upon-Trent                                                                                                                                                      © Dr Richard Talbot, MBE, F.R.Hist S. 2018

Before known history

The Dedication of the Parish Church of Stoke-upon-Trent is St. Peter-ad-Vincula,

The Parish Church of St Peter ad Vincula

which festival falls on the 1st August, the festival of Lammastide which corresponds with a red-letter day in Celtic heathenism. The Celtic festival lasted from a fortnight before Lammas (1st August) to a fortnight after. For most of the industrial period of Stoke-on-Trent until the 1970’s the festival was commemorated in what was known as Stoke Wakes Week.

 

This fact points to the situation of Church as being a site for early Pagan worship and chosen clearly for its direct location adjacent to a ford across the River Trent, (a way) but more importantly because of the convergence of the two rivers at this point being the Fowlhay Brook and the River Trent. It would have had been significant to those early tribes that lived in nearby Penkhull and the hamlet of Boothen and it is more than likely that a stone circle would have occupied the site in earlier times. The Celts celebrate this festival from sunset August 1 until sunset August 2 and called it Lughnasad after the God Lugh. It is the wake of Lugh, the Sun-King, whose light begins to dwindle after the summer solstice. The Saxon holiday of Lammas celebrates the harvesting of the grain. The first sheaf of wheat is ceremonially reaped, threshed, milled and baked into a loaf. The grain dies so that the people might live. Eating this bread, the bread of the Gods, gives life. If all this sounds vaguely Christian, it is. In the sacrament of Communion, bread is blessed, becomes the body of God and is eaten to nourish the faithful. This Christian Mystery parallels the pagan Mystery of the Grain God like so many of our Christian festivals.

It is not quite clear who bought Christianity to this part of the North Midlands,

Mercia, but it could well have been the Romans who had a fort at Trent Vale only one mile to the South of Stoke Church and Stoke being on a small road departing from a larger Roman Road which went from Chesterton to Rochester. Remember it was common place for early Christians to use both sites and festival dates associated with the early Celtic Pagan worship.

Remains of Saxon Cross

The ford across the River Trent would be a way linking the early settlements of the Potteries. It would have been here that the first Christians would stand to greet people as they passed and to share with them the good news of Jesus Christ in the hope of gaining converts. This site would then see an early wooden church, as both a shelter and a place of prayer for those early converts to Christianity, to be replaced at a later date, probably in the year 805 by a stone church. It is known that the site once supported a moat and in excavations many years ago, a stone wall was discovered some four meters below the current road indicating some kind of fortification of the site or part of some early British settlement. We may never know the answer to this.

It is considered quite reasonable to assume that St. Chad, who was Bishop of Lichfield (669-672) would have visited the early church of Stoke.

So, what physical evidence is there to substantiate all this. Well, the Saxon Cross, now listed as an Ancient Monument dates from c750-780, which probably replaced an earlier preaching cross of wood. A closer look at this cross in the churchyard shows a corner section recessed. This was done to provide the setting for a door when it was later used as a door lintel in the 11th century Saxon church. The cross was discovered in sections in 1876 in the course of digging out a grave.

Font over 1000 years old

Further evidence is gleaned from the fact that the font and altar stone date from before the Norman Conquest. When the old Saxon Church was demolished, and its stone sold, the font was removed to the home of its Patron Mr. John Tomlinson of Hartshill where for many years and was used to contain flowers in his garden. In 1876 it was returned to its original site until 1932 when it was restored and placed for the first time inside the present church. Do take time to look more closely at the rim of the bowl where the indent marks for once hinges and a asp which date probably from 1236 when Edmund, Archbishop of Canterbury gave instructions that all covers to fonts should be securely locked.

Stone carved altar slap

The stone Alter slab which has pride of place once again at the High Altar. It was discovered in the area of the old Saxon Church and removed from the churchyard in the late 1920’s and placed in the War Memorial Chapel in the South Gallery. The weight was a problem to the supporting beams and in 1933 was re-cut and re-consecrated and set upon a new frame and forms the High Altar of St. Peters.

The altar in Stoke Minister where the bread and wine are administered from each week. Like so many places, the first written name of a place is often found in the Domesday Book of 1086, and so it was with Stoke Church. The town of Stoke was not mentioned because it did not exist at the time the nearest population was situated at the hill top settlement of Penkhull, half a mile to the South West of Stoke Church. It is recorded that half the advowson (the right of appointment of clergy) was held by Robert de Stafford and the other by the King as Lord of the Royal Manor of Penkhull where the early church was situated.

The first recorded Rector was Vivian de Stoke (1154-1189). There is a continuous list from that date. One Rector was even a Spaniard who never set foot in the country and his appointment, like many of that time was given by the King as a reward for some service rendered. Remember that the Rector of Stoke would receive considerable wealth by his appointment. Pope Nicholas Taxation of 1297, reflects the wealth of Stoke parish as the third highest value in the country. At this time until the first Rectory Act of 1807 the parish stretched from Norton le Moors to Caverswall.

The Saxon Church

Saxon Church

 

The position of this church, which was demolished in 1830 was at the junction of the Trent and Fowlhay. It was surrounded by a moat and is certain that more than one church had been erected on the same site. It is likely that the nave is pre-Norman, with the chancel added, or rebuilt in the early 14th century. The tower and side aisles seem to have been added by the end of the century with tower and pinnacles added in the 15th century. The church roof was originally much higher as the marks on the tower give evidence. This work was carried out in 1560, but it is not known as to why. From the south aisle a church porch was added probably at the same time as the side aisles.

With the coming of the industrial revolution and the subsequent increase in population in the town of Stoke the need became clear for further accommodation within the church. To overcome this, a gallery was installed at the rear in 1735.

Location of High Alter in Saxon Church remains

Just a few of the early Churchwardens accounts have survived and give numerous insights to the repair and maintenance and use of the old church. In 1553 we read that new bells were installed in the ‘stephull’ and in 1648 an item of money was paid for cleaning and white-washing the church ‘after the Scots had gone’. Until now it was always thought that the church was demolished in 1826 without any explanation being given. However, the Staffordshire Mercury records that within two months of the new parish church being consecrated in 1830 the old church was demolished, and its stone sold for £300. It would appear that much purchaser of the material was acquired by the tenant of one of the three Glebe Mills, owned by the Rector which stood on the River Trent a little way down the river from Stoke. The stone was used to line the channel of the mill-stream from the Trent to the mill. In 1881, local architect, Charles Lynam whilst walking discovered the old stones in the old water course to the Upper Glebe Mill after the town council removed the mills to improve the river flow.

Old water mill at the side of the River Trent

With the find, Mr. Lynam commenced an archaeological dig to establish the exact site of the former church and after the removal of the stones from the mill stream, they were reconstructed in exactly the same place as they had stood nearly sixty years previously with the altar and stone arches as a token representative of the early Saxon Church. Remember, until the Reformation it was a mediaeval catholic church. In the places between the arches have been places some carved stone heads which date from the same period. Do try and find the Roman Numerals on one of the columns.

The Nave of the old church measured 66 feet, while the chancel measured 32 feet. It had seating for 640 including the side aisles, which at certain times of the year would be filled by parishioners from the huge parish it served.

Parish Registers

Old 1920s photograph of Stoke Church Yard

With the dissolution of the Monasteries and the dispersal of the Monks, so the problem of who would keep registers arose. Thomas Cromwell, Vicar General issued instructions in 1538 for parish churches to keep registers of Baptisms, marriages and burials. Elizabeth I, again emphasised this point in 1558 and in 1597 it was ordered that parchment register books should be purchased and all previous records transferred from any older books which were mostly on paper to the new parchment books from the date 1558 – hence the reason why so many church registers commence from that date. The existing registers for Stoke commence from February 28th, 1629/30, those for the first hundred years having been apparently lost. Because of the importance of these books, they have been deposited in the Staffordshire County Archives at Stafford for safe keeping under controlled conditions.

Rectors of Stoke

From the year 1154, there is an almost complete list of Rectors for Stoke, the first being Vivian de Stoke. He was one of the most secular clergy in the reign of Henry and John. Vivian was fined many times for hunting with his dogs, apparently without permission, in the Kings forest, then call Hay of Clive, now known by the name Cliffe Vale. Vivian died in 1222.

Many of the following Rectors were like Vivian of Royal appointment. Many appointments were for services rendered to the King, two of which never set foot in the country, one was from France and the other Spain. However, by their appointment receive all the income associated with the position. In 1604, John Weston was appointed Rector and commenced the great tradition of religious education associated with Stoke when he built and maintained two schools at his own expense.

The New St. Peter ad Vincula of Stoke

The building of this church commenced in 1826, the corner stoned being laid on the 26th June of that year. The total expense and its accessories was upwards of £14,000. It was erected on former glebe land adjacent to the old churchyard the site of which had to be raised to above the reach of the floods from the Trent and Fowhay. It was completed by 1829 but not consecrated until 1st August 1830. The architects and builders were Trubshaw and Johnson of Haywood and the stone was obtained from Hollington. The interior length of the nave in 130 feet, its breadth 61 feet and the chancel measures just over 26 feet by 24 feet wide. The nave for years was recorded as having the largest unsupported ceiling in the midlands. It was said at its consecration that it would seat over 1,500 persons including the gallery.

Do take a while to take in the proportions of this House of God. By now you have probably entered through the small anti-room at the rear of the nave which was created some fifteen years ago from the original seating space. For most people, the first things that meets the eye are the rows of inscribed ceramic tiles around all the walls. Manufactured by Minton Hollins they bear witness to the many people who have carried the torch of faith in their lives and whose loved ones have placed a tile in their memory. In addition to those local ‘Saints’ who served this

Minton Hollins Tiles

church well there are many also to those who’s ministry extends both nationally and overseas, such as Bishop Selwyn who was the first Anglican Bishop of New Zealand.

Taking the north isle, stop for a while to read just a few of the tiles. For many, their occupations are listed, and often adjacent times commemorate close members of the same family. As we turn around towards the centre isle do take a moment to view the large tablet to the left, just before the steps to the pulpit. This is the memorial to those who gave generously to the building of this church. The pulpit was given in 1892 by the parishioners in memory of Dr. Gilby West and bears the figure of St. Luke, the ‘beloved physician’. The Spanish Crucifix found above the pulpit is of the same date and given to the church by Mr. Ronald Copeland. The stalls for the clergy and choir were donated in 1897 by an anonymous donor at a cost of 200 guineas.

As we enter the Chancel area the character changes to that of an almost private chapel to the forefathers of our pottery industry and leading churchmen. To list them all would in itself be a monument, but to mention just a few I hope will suffice and act as a stimulus for you to look for yourselves. Dean Woodhouse, died 1833, William Adams, Master Potter died 1829, Lewis Adams first Chief Bailiff of Stoke. Josiah Spode, died 1827. Bishop Sir Lovelace Stamer, past Rector of Stoke. It was Bishop Stamer who introduced the Memorial Tiles in 1858 and in 1888 presented the present reredos to the church.

Do take a close look at the memorial to Josiah Wedgwood, who died in 1795 and Sarah his wife (died 1815). There are other memorials around the church and worthy of time to reflect and when you return to the entrance of the chancel do look above the arch to see two further memorials recovered from the old Saxon Church, to the left Hugh Booth of Cliff Bank, potter died 1789 and to the right to John Fenton, died 1782.

Following on our tour of the church, we find the Harthill Memorial Chapel on the South wall created in 1968 in memory of a former Rector and Archdeacon of Stoke Rev. Percy Hartill. Before we return to where we began, do take a moment to look up to the magnificent organ chamber. The Organ was built by Binns and presented to the church in 1921 by Mr. H.J. Johnson, of Barlaston, in memory of Reginald Tavernor Johnson and Charles Challinor Watson, who were killed in the Great War. The console was moved to its present position in the 1960’s because of the time lag between choir and organ.

Finally, walk to the exit door at the rear of the south isle and up the stairs. Here to your amazement you will find the War Memorial Chapel as well as splendid views of the Chancel.

This chapel, set aside from the rest of the church was created as a memorial for those who lost their lives in the First World War. Various schemes were originally submitted after 1918, but it was not until 1921 that a final decision was taken. It was designed by one of the Church Wardens and the City Art Director. The raised gallery was removed, and the present space created. It consists of a stained-glass window, carved oak panelling for the walls and a screen to divide the chapel for the remainder of the church. The stone altar slab, now situated on the High Alter was originally placed here and yet despite additional stone pillars and strengthening of the floor by the addition of a steel girder, the floor began to move. Subsequently the stone had to be removed.

The work of the window and the carved panelling was done by parish volunteers after a period of training in the art of sculpture. The work was dedicated on the 10th November 1923 and unveiled by Gen. Sir Walter Congreve, V.C.

High Altar – Stoke Minster

Before you take your leave, please take while to sit and ponder of those thousands of people who for probably over the last 1,400 years have used this site to praise and glorify Almighty God. Think also of the many clergy that have served the community and the community that has served the church. For those who have gone out in faith to create twenty-nine daughter and grand-daughter churches and fifteen mission churches throughout Stoke-on-Trent and the ministry to the people to the North Staffordshire area in so many differing periods of its history.

Let us thank God for them all and that he may continue to bless the work of the present church members and clergy that they may be encouraged to minister further.