St Thomas & St Luke


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The Church

In August 1814 the Gentlemen of the Vestry decided to rebuild St Thomas's Church, Dudley. Present at the meeting was William Brooks, a London Architect, who agreed to prepare plans for a new building. In October he was appointed architect for the intended church and prepared two sets of drawings, one a Classical design and one in the Gothic style. It was decided to build in the Gothic style and the building is a fine early example of the Gothic Revival of the 19th century.

The Act for taking down and rebuilding the Parish Church received the Royal Assent on 12th May 1815, and Mr Evans of London was contracted to demolish the "old and much decayed St Thomas's" and build the new.

The preamble of the Act of Parliament sets out the case for the change.

Whereas the parish church of St Thomas in the town of Dudley, in the County of Worcester, and the tower and chancel thereof, are very ancient and much decayed, and the said church is also too small for the inhabitants of the said parish, and it is therefore necessary that the same should be taken down and rebuilt…


The Foundation Stone was laid by the Bishop of Worcester on 25th October, 1816. Full details of the elaborate procession which moved through the town from St Edmunds Church have survived as well as a ticket that admitted the holder to the ceremony. A medal was also struck for the occasion.

Now dedicated to St Thomas the Apostle, rather than Thomas of Canterbury, the present church has been variously described as a fine example of Regency Gothic, a unique example of the work of William Brooks, and an uncommonly interesting and attractive building. One writer said in 1851 that it was something which only an Act of Parliament would have produced.. To modern ears that might sound like an insult and in a way it was, but to other churches built at the same time as Top Church that did not make art, science and wealth…handmaids to religion.


The Galleries

The organ was presented to the parish by the then Earl of Dudley when the present church was built. The organ builder was Elliott and it cost over £1000—probably nearer a million today!

The Earl was adamant that it should go at the west end of the church even though many folk felt that it would be better placed in the chancel so that it would not make it difficult to get in or out of the church. In the end the organ-builder came up with an elegant solution to satisfy both parties. It would be built in the gallery with the console to one side and the pipes arranged around an arch through which the congregation entered the gallery. In fact the chancel is quite narrow and it would have been difficult to fit a major instrument at that end of the church.

It is possible that the insistence on a west end position was a move by the Earl to ensure that a traditional gallery band of local musicians was "persuaded" to stand down. Thomas Hardy fans will recognise the plot of Under The Greenwood Tree!

The Pulpit

It is believed that the pulpit from old St Thomas, given by Richard Foley, Iron­master, who was churchwarden 1633-4, was transferred to the new church in 1818. It is thought to have been a three-decker! A photograph of 1861 in the Dudley Archive shows a two-decker pulpit on the north side and an extra-ordinary arched structure with a small pulpit on top on the south side. The height of this was such that the preacher's head would have been level with those sitting in the front row of the gallery. It is assumed that this was the top deck of the original pulpit. Such an arrangement tends to confirm the view of St Thomas as an oratory church and the reputation of Dr Booker as a powerful preacher. This pulpit survives and has been moved from the chancel to the head of the nave on the north side.



Much of this information, together with the photographs come from the very informative parish web site at which it is recommended you visit.


Dove's reference for the bells:

Dudley, W Mids, S Thomas, 10, 20-2-8 in E flat. Wed 


Map reference  :  SO942901

Use the Worcestershire & Districts Change Ringing Association link to to find a street map showing the church. Follow the instructions on the site. 






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