Church History

A Short History of Holy Cross Church

1898 Holy Cross Church was built as a mission church of Tettenhall Regis Parish. Previous to this Bilbrook people worshipped at St Michael’s Church in Tettenhall.

1908 -1945 One person who had a major part to play in the growth of Holy Cross almost from its inception was Harold Twentyman. He was a churchwarden at Holy Cross Church for 37 years.

After his death the people of Bilbrook subscribed towards the cost of building a porch in his memory.

1959 The boundary changes which occurred finally severed Bilbrook from the ecclesiastical control of Tettenhall. On September 15th Holy Cross came into the parish of Codsall and became a daughter church of St. Nicholas Church, the Parish Church of Codsall. The Reverend Michael Pollitt accepted the position of assistant priest at Holy Cross, taking up his position on November 1st 1959.

All this took place just at the time that St. Nicholas Parochial Church Council had to start considering the question of accommodation at Holy Cross for the increasing number of worshippers.

When it proved impossible to find another, larger site for the Church it was decided that an extension should be put on the existing building. A Building Fund was established and an appeal was launched. Roger Gaskell undertook the task of overseeing the project and he gave a very generous donation of £5,000 towards the total cost, which was in the region of £20,500.

1966 Building work on the extension commenced and was subsequently completed during the early part of 1966. Shortly after its completion the ‘new’ church was dedicated with 250 people crowding into the building.

The ceremony was conducted by the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt. Revd. Stretton-Reeve; attended by the two Codsall Wardens, Douglas Yates and Ernest Gaskell.

The Vicar of St. Nicholas, the Revd. Gilbert Smith, said, “For many, this church is a dream come true.”

As a result of the building work the East window became the West window. One or two visitors remarked that the Church appeared to be the wrong way around, but it was pointed out that at least the congregation faced the right way!

1980 Holy Cross Church, which had became a centre point of life in Bilbrook, became a District Church. This was done to encourage priests to remain at the church for longer periods. During the transition to District Church it was discovered that Holy Cross had never been licensed for worship! A frantic searching of the Church Registers followed, fortunately no one had been married at Holy Cross.

1983 The first Easter Monday Market took place with the idea of raising funds to refurbish the Church Hall. The Hall had served the Church and the village since it was built in 1923, but 60 years later it was looking its age and was not able to cater properly for the social demands of the Church and the village.

The Market and ‘Coffee Pop-In’, which was also started at this time, were both very successful.

The inside of the Hall was gutted, redesigned and rebuilt. A new toilet block was added together with a disabled toilet, a completely new fully equipped kitchen and new floor in the main hall.

At the same time a false ceiling was added together with new fluorescent lighting. Previously there had been 100 watt bulbs hanging on long flexes and heaters suspended from the roof that fried the tops of heads and not a lot else.

The Easter Monday Market (now called a ‘Fair’) and the Thursday Morning ‘Coffee Pop-In’ are still regular features, serving the village and helping to raise money for the church.

1998 The Church’s single bell was making a very strange sound as it called people for worship. It was removed from the bell tower, taken away for regrinding and re-installed in March 1999. Just in time for members of the congregation to ‘ring in’ the new millennium on 1st January 2000.

2005 Bilbrook became a Parish in the newly created Benefice of Bilbrook and Coven.

The Bilbrook Parish comprised of areas that had previously belonged to the Parishes of Codsall and Tettenhall Regis.

Father David Baker became the first Vicar of the Benefice, leaving Bilbrook’s Church House and living at the New Vicarage in Coven.

(We are grateful to Graham Johns for information on the Church’s history)