About the history

History of St Michael’s Church

The present Parish church of Rushall is the third church in the history of Rushall. The first church was built by the Lords of the manor of Rushall close to Rushall Hall.

Together with Walsall Parish Church it was appropriated in the year 1220 to the newly founded Praemonstratensian Abbey at Halesowen, 12 miles away in Worcestshire. “Appropriation” of parish churches (along with their endowment income) was a means of providing support for the monastries. The Abbot would become the Rector of the parish, of which he would receive the whole income. He would then provide a priest as his deputy known as the “vicar” to offer Mass and provide pastoral care in the parish. This vicar would be supported from the income of the parish and the remainder retained for the Abbey funds.

The exact site of the first church of Rushall is not known, but was probably nearer to the hall itself. Neither do we know the exact date of its foundation, although it was already in existence by 1220.

The second church was built by John Harpur and his wife Eleanor and consecrated by William Heyworth, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, on 19th January 1440. This building stood on the site of the present and larger church. The tower remained standing after the first half of the present church was built.

From these two earlier churches very little remains. There is the base of an old preaching cross in the churchyard on the south side. The Baptismal Font with its dogtooth ornament dates from around 1200. There are also two eighteenth century memorial tablets in the south transept and a bench seat now in the chancel, carved on the front “RA 1661 CF” possibly made from the timbers from the repairs carried out after the Civil War.

The present (third) church was begun in 1854. Built of limestone it is in Early English Style and was completed in 1868. This church is “cruciform” and there are a number of features worth noting. The murals over the chancel arch and along the east walls of the transepts are by E Reginald Frampton, a painter of the late pre-Raphaelite school and completed in 1905. The Rood Beam is a memorial to John Tunner Rubery (co-founder of Rubery Owen) and his wife and five daughters. The stained glass windows are also memorials to clergy and laity of the past 150 years, among them Frederic W Willmore, also buried in the churchyard, who wrote “Records of Rushall”. The van Eyck polyptych in the chapel of Our Lady is a memorial to choristers James Doughty and Frederick Manson.

The bells are a peal of six (total weight 29.25cwt) and a call bell. These date from 1900 and are by James Barwell of Birmingham.

In 1887 a prefabricated "in-tabernacle" was erected as the Mission Church of Christ in the King in the then growing, industrial village of Rushall, the inhabitants of which needed a centre of worship closer to their homes than the existing Parish church.