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who presented one of his chaplains to the living, as before mentioned, and, consequently, the right of presentation descended to the reigning monarch.
The Abbot defended his right, “ pleading the charter of Henry III., the father of Edward I., whereby the church of Walsall, with its chapels of Wednesbury and Rushall, were granted to the abbey of Hales Owen for ever.”
Hugo de Lowther, however, on the part of the crown, “contended that at the time of King Henry's grant, the church of Wednesbury was not one of the chapels belonging to Walsall, but had, for some time previously, been a mother church, and was in no way connected with Walsall.” In support of his plea he brought forward as witnesses, among others, William de Wrotteslegh and John Heronville ; so verdict was given for the king, and the crown recovered the advowson. The same year in which this cause was tried the king accepted a fine of ten marks from the Abbot, and by a deed, bearing date 1301,* the right of presentation, together with the tithes and other emoluments, were given up by the crown to the abbey of Hales Owen for ever, and they were further secured by a grant from the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, (A.D. 1305),t by virtue whereof the abbey regained the possession of the advowson; nevertheless, after this, instances occur of the vicar being appointed still by the crown. At the time of the dissolution of monasteries, between 1535—9, King Henry VIII. gave to Sir John Dudley, Knight, to be held in military tenure, the rectories of Clent, Wednesbury, and Walsall.
It is somewhat strange that the first grant of the church of Walsall, with its chapels, to the aforesaid abbey, was made by Sir William Rous, or Rufus, as appears from a deed
* Appendix D.
+ Appendix E.
recorded in the “Monasticon ;'* but, notwithstanding this, the Abbot obtained a fresh grant from King Henry III. from whence it would appear that he was cognizant of a previous claim of the crown thereto, which induced him to take this step; and being then possessed of the advowson, he next obtained the appropriation of the tithes, by license from the bishop. It was thus that Walsall was constituted: a vicarage.
The probable time when the church of Wednesbury was first erected has been already stated; but it appears afterwards to have undergone a thorough repair, about the latter half of the fifteenth century, when the style of architecture predominant at that period, viz., the Perpendicular, was visible throughout; and it may be interesting to specify in this place the original dimensions of the church, as existing before the late alterations in 1828: they were as follows :
Both aisles were of the same length as the nave. On the east side of the south aisle was a chapel separated by arches from the other part of the building, and a part of it, about one half, was afterwards partitioned off for a vestry. At the entrance to the chancel there stood an organ, which was destroyed by the soldiery of Oliver Cromwell, the effects of whose fanatical and sacrilegious rage are seen more or less in many of our beautiful cathedrals and parish churches.
* Appendix F. + Shaw's History of Staffordshire.
In the chancel were fifteen stalls of curious workmanship, beautifully carved, of various designs, and bearing the usual characteristics of the Perpendicular style of architecture. Many interesting monuments now remain there, to the memory of the Parkes (ancestors of Lord Ward), Harcourts, Hopkins, Comberfords, and others. The communion rails bore the date 1686, legibly inscribed thereon. The oaken pulpit exhibits the date 1611. The windows were richly adorned with much stained glass, bearing among other devices, the arms of Heronville, Beaumont, Comberford, Babington, and others.* The eagle lectern deserves particular notice, as well on account of its antiquity, as of the purpose for which it was designed—the use of it being much more ancient than that of the pulpit.f The original highpitched roof was afterwards superseded by one in the Tudor style, of a more obtuse form—the pitch of which was much lower, and even approached to flatness. It consisted of numerous rectangular compartments, formed by the intersection of the timbers ; and these compartments were subdivided by moulded ribs, which were ornamented with carved bosses, painted and gilt. The chancel roof was supported, or appeared to be, by carved figures of priests, in albs; one bearing a shield, another a dulcimer, another a trumpet, and a fourth a drum, besides others too much decayed to be described. The porch is plain, but of the same style of architecture as the chancel. It is thickly coated with cement and plaster, which prevent much of its details being seen. The arch at the entrance is segmental, and exhibits the mouldings carried up from the base to the spring; and hence, without the interposition of any capital, in a continuous sweep to its apex. The windows-one on each side-are
* Appendix G.
+ Appendix H.