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Friends of the Red Church

The Red Church - Old St Mary’s Church History

1747

Mary Brown, from Benthall, inherited from her close friend, Elizabeth Crompton, the land on which the Red Church and the Churchyard was built.

1759-1766

The existing St Leonard’s Church in Broseley was overcrowded and the Red Church was built to serve the rapid population growth in Jackfield and Broseley at the peak of their prosperity at the start of the industrial revolution. It was considered “a large ambitious Church and a spectacular feature of the landscape.” It took its popular name from the highly coloured handmade red bricks used. The interior was largely constructed in oak, and with a gallery, held 288 persons.

Mary Brown “did in her lifetime at her own costs and charges erect a Chapel in Jackfield in a remote part of the Parish of Broseley.” However, she never saw the result of her vision as she died in 1761 and the building was completed by her sister-in-law Anne Brown and her brother, Francis Turner Blithe.


It is said that Mary’s ghost tore down the building works each day until the church was built as she wanted. An alternative story is that Francis Turner Blithe built a more spectacular Church, different from that planned by Mary Brown, in the process of which, the early stages of her building were destroyed. Was the ghost story invented to discourage prying eyes?


1767

Consecrated on 28th August 1767, the church served the district for over 100 years.

Over 1250 persons are buried in the small graveyard. Its history covers stories of people from all walks of life and significant events that affected their lives such as the Coalport Ferry disaster of 1799  and Cholera epidemics of 1832 and 1834.

Early 1800s

The Church suffered damage from subsidence and became dangerous

1845

All Saints’ Church was built to replace the old, small St Leonard’s Church in Broseley

1863

The Parish of Jackfield was created and the new St Mary’s Church built. After that, the Red Church was used only intermittently.

1870s

Around this time, deliberate clay undermining caused irreparable subsidence.

1885

The graveyard became full and was declared “closed.”

1920s

Some memorials, the pulpit and oak panelling was transferred to the new St Mary’s

1930s

The last service was held. The bell was sold and is now at the National Trust property, Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire.

1961

After vandalism ten years earlier, demolition had been recommended but funds were not available. However demolition began on 21st August 1961.

Since then, the site has been largely neglected but it is now realised that the story of the Church and Churchyard makes a significant contribution to the heritage of the district, see more detailed history.


Historic map from the National Library of Scotland with Google Earth overlay

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