CODSALL

Grid Ref: SJ 865 037
Date: 18 January 2010

Crown spacer restaurant
The Crown Inn   Half-Timbered Indian Restaurant
The Bull   Statue
The Bull at the junction of Station and Wolverhampton Roads   The Lone Singer
St. Ncholas   Nave
St. Nicholas' Church   Nave and Chancel Arch
Norman Arch   Great War plaque
Norman Arch in the porch   Memorial to Great War
monument   monument
Detail of Wrottesley Monument   Wrottesley Monument
window   font
Modern window showing education and confirmation   Ancient Font
charity board   window
Charities Board   Powner Window

 

The village of Codsall has fought to remain in South Staffordshire rather than become a part of the nearby conurbation of Wolverhampton. The centre of the village has two pubs, a retaurant, a tea-room and coffee bar. Near the centre is the statue of the The Lone Singer, by Sir Charles Wheeler who lived from 1892 to 1974. He was a native of Codshall, a pupil at the Wolverhampton School of Art and became President of the Royal Academy from 1956-1966. He is buried at the parish church of St. Nicholas.

In the Middle Ages, the church was one of five prebends belonging to the the Royal Free Chapel of Tettenhall, a collegiate church founded in 960 by King Edgar. A prebend was a daughter chapel whose income paid for a canon of the collegiate church, who was called a prebendary. The chapel itself was served by a curate. In 1549, Edward VI sold the estates of the collegiate church to Walter Wrottesley (1483-1563) and to this day, Lord Wrottesley and the Bishop of Lichfield are patrons of the living. Codsall became a parish in its own right in 1847. There has been a church on the site since Norman times but with the exception of the tower, which dates from the 13th or 14th century, most of the church was demolished and rebuilt in the middle of the 19th century by the architect Edward Banks of Wolverhapton. The original nave was believed to date from the 12th century and the chancel from 12th or early 13th century. The Norman doorway, shown in my picture, was incorporated into the new structure.

The 17th century Wrottesley tomb was placed in a niche at the north side of the sanctuary. It shows an effigy of Walter Wrottesley, grandson of the William who obtained the land in 1549. It was erected by his eldest son, Sir Hugh Wrottesley. Along the side are small images of his three sons and two daughters. On the wall above the effigy is a plaque on which is written:

Here lieth Walter Wrottesley of Wrot: Esquire who married Marie daughter and heire to Hugh Lee of Woodford Esqr by whom he had issue onl Sir Hugh Wrottesley, Knight, Secondly he married Joyce daughter of Sir Edward Leighton of Wattiesborow, Knt by whome he had issue 2 sonns and 2 daughs:, which Walter died 6th day of December 1630.

This Walter founded the Walter Wrottesley Charity in 1605 as mentioned below.

The church has many windows and monuments dating from the last 150 years. Among the more unusual ones are the chancel screen, carved by Gertrude Barr the daughter of the vicar in 1913 and a plaque donated by churches in the Netherlands to record the gratitude of Dutch servicemen who spent were accommodated in a camp at Wrottesley Park between 1940 and 1947. There are two modern windows, one showing children being educated and one as a memorial to three members of the Powner family.

At the base of the tower is a board recording various charities set up since 1605. Walter Wrottesley gave £50 to purchase a cottage and land so that the rent could provide money for the poor. John Brooke of Blackland also gave a cottage and land. In 1672, William Greisley gave property that would yield a rent of 40 shilling a year and in 1716 Dorothy Derby gave £20, the income from which was to pay for the teaching of poor children to read the bible. The Reverend John Hillman, formerly the vicar, gave £20 to buy land whose rental would be used for poor relief and four years later Margaret Somerford made a similar provision to help poor children read the bible. Finally, William Barrett, who died in 1801 left £400 worth of bonds paying 3% annually to provide bread for the poor, which was to be distributed on Sunday mornings at the discretion of the minister and churchwardens.

The parish registers, preserved in the county record office go back to 1587. Many churches have no records before 1600 as they were written on paper which has crumbled away. A new instruction was sent out at the beginning of the 17th century to record baptisms, marriages and burials on parchment.

Sources:

I am grateful to the churchwarden, Evelyn Wallin, who very kindly pointed out the main features of interest in the church and showed me a drawing of the church as it was in the 1790s.

St. Nicholas' Church, Codsall - A Brief History, a pamphlet provided free of charge in the church
Information boards in the church.
The Buildings of England, Staffordshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin, 1974, ISBN 0 14 071046 9

 

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