It is known as the “Westminster Abbey of the Industrial Revolution” as it houses the memorials to Matthew Boulton, James Watt, and William Murdock as well as many other famous people. There are also links to Aston Villa Football Club in the graveyard.
The first stone-built church was erected in around 1160 at the meeting of track ways from the settlements of Birmingham in the south to Walsall in the north and West Bromwich to Aston in the East. The Norman tower can still be seen. The church was extended in the fifteenth century, followed by a significant rebuild in the 1820s.
The architect William Hollins carried out this work at a cost of £4,000. The latest rebuild was initiated by the rector Dr William Randall between 1876 and 1878 due to the rapid growth of the population: with the wealth from the Industrial benefactors and ecclesiastical bodies they were able to extend the building at the enormous cost of £14,000.
The church is open for Sunday services at 8.00 and 11.00 a.m. and for visitors on Saturdays between 2.00 and 4.00.p.m. during the summer months.
Before Brian Hall recently retired he was the vicar of St Mary’s Church for nearly 20 years. He was drawn to the area because of the strong sense of faith within the community. He was delighted to see that his parishioners came from such diverse backgrounds which he particularly noticed one Christmas morning – out of a congregation of 40 people there were 17 different nationalities! Brian hopes that the Church will continue to open on Saturdays for visitors to come and wander around and take in the history of the Church in particular the notable Industrial Revolutionists buried under the Church including Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdoch.
Tel: 0121 554 3407