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CHAPTER II.

The Parish Church.

SUC

xur Saxon predecessors, as early as the eighth century, S2 erected their buildings after the style of the Romans,

taking as their example the decaying edifices which 23 the latter had built during their occupation of Se England. At that period, and even down to the twelfth century, architecture was but little developed. The Roman, the Saxon, and the Norman styles, gradually succeeded one another, each possessing its own distinctive peculiarities—the two latter originating from the former. Subsequently England produced a style, inferior to none in purity of Gothic principle, and surpassing every other in the matchless beauty of its detail.* This style—the Early English-may well be the pride of Englishmen; for not only is it almost exclusively our own, but it has produced a train of cathedrals, abbeys, and other churches, the most glorious which our land can boast. Almost nine-tenths of our most magnificent churches owe their chiefest beauties to this style, and, with whatever other variety of Pointed architecture it is brought in contact, its merits shine forth

* Freeman.

as

preeminently, and, so far from suffering, gains additional lustre by the comparison.* Probably, after this elegant style the first church, erected on the ruins of Ethelfleda’s Castle, was built and proportioned. The precise date of its erection, however, cannot with any degree of certainty be fixed; but, from the absence of any mention of a church in Doomsday Book,—whilst the neighbouring parishes of Wolverhampton, Sedgley, Alrewas, Pattingham, Brewood, Lichfield, and Stafford, and several others, are recorded as possessing churches, with resident incumbents,-it may be possible that Wednesbury had not one at that period; still it is not decisive evidence that there was not then a church, as we find whole counties without any notice of the churches.

The first mention of the existence of a church, that we are able to discover, is during the reign of King John, who presented one of his chaplains to the living of Wednesbury, and, also, one to Walsall. The church, therefore, was most probably built between the years 1080 and 1216.

This church afterwards belonged to the Abbot and Convent of Hales Owen, who grounded their right of patronage to it upon a charter of King Henry III., whereby the church of Walsall, and its chapels of Wednesbury and Rushall, were given to that abbey for ever.f This right they enjoyed undisturbed until the twenty-first year of Edward I., (A.D. 1293), when a “ quo warranto" I was issued, by the crown, against the Abbot of Hales Owen, for the recovery of the advowson of Wednesbury. The case was tried before John de Berwick and his associates, itinerating justices of the county of Stafford.

The king founded his title upon the fact that the advowson formerly belonged to the crown, in the time of King John,

* Scott's Plea for the Faithful Restoration of Ancient Churches. + Appendix B.

| Appendix C.

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