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History

In 1761 the great industrialist Matthew Boulton established his factory at Soho, fairly close to where St. Michael’s Church now stands. He built a house for himself in what is now Soho Avenue, and indeed the house is now a museum. Boulton was later joined by James Watt and was associated with William Murdock and Francis Eginton.

The genius of these giants of industry brought fame, prosperity and large numbers of workmen to the district, creating a population which over the next fifty years continued to increase rapidly and soon there was a need for a new church.

Construction & Consecration

The first stone for St. Michael's was laid in 1852 by Lord Dartmouth, then living at Sandwell Hall. The architect was a local man, Mr Bourne from Dudley, and the church took three years to complete on land which had been purchased from the estate of Matthew Boulton.

The church was consecrated in 1855 by the Bishop of Lichfield.

High Church Tradition

From the earliest days, St. Michael's had the reputation of being extremely "high church", with a weekly Choral Eucharist. This wasn’t without controversy. In December 1888, the "Weekly Post" noted the arrival of the new Vicar, the Reverend H Oswell, "the new Vicar is likely to be favourable with lovers of ritual, and be regarded with aversion by those who suffer from the dread of what they call 'ecclesiastical mummery'. The new vicar is profuse in making the sign of the cross, and a long list of services is read out on a Sunday morning which is quite appalling in its length".

Equally controversial, was the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in a "secret chapel" hidden from view in the south porch.

The Mission Church

In the late 1870’s it was felt necessary to create a mission church in Hunters Lane, dedicated to St. John. This building accommodated 200 people and was situated in one of the poorest parts of the neighbourhood. Little information remains regarding its eventual closure, but it seems to have fallen into disrepair in the 1890’s.

Fabric & Decoration

There are many fine stained glass windows in the church, many crafted by famous Birmingham studios, and dating back to the time when the city was significant in the manufacture of ecclesiastical goods. Indeed, John Hardman, one of the greatest designers and manufacturers of the Victorian age was a parishioner.

Equally noteworthy are the Stations of the Cross, dating from the early 20th century, painted in vivid colours on gilded oak panels, in an Arts and Crafts style.

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