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St John 

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Storridge

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MORE HISTORY

 

An article from the  'The Ecclesiologist', December 1856, describing Storridge Church.

 

HISTORY

 

The somewhat straggling parish of Storridge was originally part of the large parish of Cradley. In the middle of the 19th century concern was expressed for the population of the hamlet of Storridge, who had to walk a considerable distance to attend the church in Cradley. This concern, coupled with a desire to commemorate the Luxmoore family in some fitting manner, led to the building, in Cradley stone, of a church at Storridge and the designation of Storridge as a separate ecclesiastical parish.

 

From 1816 until his death in 1854 the Very Rev. Charles Scott Luxmoore was rector of Cradley. The son of a bishop, he held numerous benefices and was also Dean of St. Asaph; since some of his benefices were sinecures from which he drew a substantial income without the burden of a heavy work-load, he did not want for material possessions and enjoyed a comfortable life-style. But he also experienced misfortune: his only child, John Nicholl Luxmoore, died as an undergraduate at Cambridge, after falling from his horse. Plans to erect a suitable memorial to the young man were frustrated by the rector’s own death, but the rector’s three sisters provided land and saw through the building of Storridge church and vicarage so that their brother’s plan might be realised.

 

Both the church and the vicarage were designed by the Worcester architect, Frederick Preedy, who was responsible for much ecclesiastical design in Worcestershire in the last half of the 19th century – at Madresfield the church, school and several cottages still show how Preedy’s work influenced the development of the village. Storridge Church and parsonage house were built by another local man, George McCann, whose family business built many houses in Malvern when the water-cure caused it to expand into a fashionable Victorian spa town. Eventually, through the marriage of Sarah McCann and Thomas Broad, McCann’s business became merged with the well-known local firm of Thomas Broad.

 

On Tuesday 12th August 1856 the Bishop of Hereford and numerous other clergy assembled at the new vicarage and then processed to the south porch of the new church for its consecration at 12 noon. Afterwards everyone went to the old rectory at Cradley and "partook of luncheon, elegantly laid out in a tent erected near the new schools." Storridge’s first vicar was the Rev. Richard Davis, a middle-aged Irishman, who held the living for just over twenty years.

 

The church, a superb example of the Gothic revival style, was positioned alongside the old turnpike road from Worcester to Hereford (now the A4103), close to the eighth milestone. Its small graveyard was extended in the 1930s and the church itself was re-seated and repaired in the 1890s, but a description written at the time of its consecration in 1856 shows how little it has changed. Its stated seating capacity of 185 was considered large for the parish which even then was thinly populated: the 1881 census recorded a total population of 212, rising to 317 by 1901, but subsequently declining.

 

All the windows were, and are, of plain glass, except for the east window, for which the stained glass was designed and produced by Preedy himself. 

 

The font and pulpit are original, the pulpit’s stone book-stand being supported by the figure of an angel carrying a scroll inscribed "In principio erat verbum" (In the beginning was the Word). One feature which has unfortunately been removed is the text on the wall space around the chancel arch. Coloured inscriptions included the ten commandments and, over the arch, the text "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.". The wall behind the altar has also lost its deep crimson reredos.

 

Changing circumstances in the 20th century have meant that the parish of Storridge is once again in the care of the Rector of Cradley, who also serves Mathon. The last vicar of Storridge was the Rev. E. C. Moir, who left in 1956 – exactly one hundred years after the church was founded – after 17 years as vicar and tutor to numerous boys in the district. For the next 5 years there were priests in charge, but since 1961 Storridge has had no resident vicar and the vicarage is now a private house.

 

© Storridge Parochial Church Council, 2013