Use our timeline to gain quick access to key dates in Holy Trinity’s history, starting with the first stone church in the thirteenth century and moving through to the present day. Links will take you to more detail about some aspects of our history on our heritage pages.
(Please note: Loading 900 years of history may take a few seconds!)
1086 Domesday Book
Sutton Coldfield's entry shows that: "in the time of Edward the Confessor, the manor of Sutton was held by the Anglo-Saxon Earl Edwin of Mercia, and in 1086 by King William himself. For tax purposes it was a manor worth four times the value of Birmingham with land for 22 ploughteams against Birmingham's possible six." William Dargue There is no mention of a church at this point. Further information here.
1250 First Rector
1250 Evidence of first stone church
Archaeological evidence points to a first building being constructed in the second half of the thirteenth century. The footings of the East end wall are the only visible evidence of this stonework from the outside (Coleshill Street). Picture credit: Roger Lea
1291 Church recorded in the Vatican
Records of the taxation of Pope Nicholas show that a church had been built dedicated to "Holy Trinitie".
1451 Bishop Vesey born
John Harman (later Vesey) was born around this date. Other sources have 1462 or 1465. This image shows Canon Golden as the Bishop in the pageant of 1928.
1452 John Arundel made a Bishop
John Arundel, incumbent of Holy Trinity from 1431 to 1433 was made Bishop of Chichester. The picture shows the Bishops' window in the Vesey Chapel in which John Arundel is remembered.
1471 Earl of Warwick dies - advowson passes to Crown
Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and Patron of Sutton Coldfield was killed at the Battle of Barnet. The advowson (patronage) of Holy Trinity passed into the possession of the Crown.
1500 Tower built
1519 Bishop Vesey of Exeter
John Vesey now made Bishop of Exeter by his friend Henry VIII.
1523 Harman family
1525 Canwell Priory dissolved
1527 Bishop Vesey Grammar School founded
As part of a range of endowments in his home town, the Bishop founded the Grammar School which continues to this day.
1528 Royal Charter for Sutton Coldfield
1530 Chapels added to chancel
Bishop Vesey built chapels either side of the chancel (now the Vesey Chapel and Choir vestry) and gave an organ to the church.
1533 North and south aisles
1541 Bishop Vesey Grammar School - first stone building
This was built on land which is now included in the South-West part of the churchyard.
1549 Royal Coat of Arms
Following order of Edward VI that all Roman Catholic decorations be removed from churches, Holy Trinity has a Tudor Royal Coat of Arms installed.
1555 Bishop Vesey buried
The Bishop was buried in the church in the North-East chapel, since re-named the Vesey Chapel.
1559 Advowson sold by Queen Elizabeth I
From 1471, the advowson had been in possession of the Crown. On 30th December 1559 the queen sold the advowson of Sutton Coldfield to Glascock and Blunt, who on the same day sold it to John Gibbons, LlD. (In ecclesiastical law, the advowson is the right to recommend a member of the Anglican clergy for a vacant benefice, or to make such an appointment. This is now termed patronage and usually held by the Bishop of the local diocese.)
1560 Advowson sold on
1586 Advowson sold
After a longer gap, the advowson (patronage) of the church was sold on, this time by Thomas Gibbons of New Hall to John Shilton.
1606 Death of Barbara Elyot
1609 Silverware given to church
A silver communion cup, cover and paten were given to the church by the Rector, Roger Elyot, (served 1595-1617) in memory of his wife, Barbara, who had died in 1606 aged 24. The picture shows silverware on the current communion table
1621 Josias Bull buried
1626 Silverware - chalice given to church
1642 James Fleetwood
1656 Antiquities of Warwickshire
Sir William Dugdale published his famous book which references the church extensively. Dugdale notes at this point that the brasses on the gravestones on the floor of the Vesey Chapel are missing.
1657 John Riland I born
The first Rector in the Riland Bedford 'dynasty' was born in 1657 and this picture of him in boyhood (1665) is from WK Riland Bedford's book about the 'family living'.
1660 Coat of Arms and Commandment Board
1671 Thomas Dawnay buried
1677 Henry Pudsey buried
1689 John Riland becomes Rector
1694 Silverware given to church
1701 Rectory in Rectory Park
1704 Oak door in South porch
The studded oak door was added to the South porch archway. Thomas Abell and Thomas Martin were churchwardens at that time.
1706 John Riland becomes Patron
1708 Ffolliott gallery
1709 Sacheverell vault
1710 William Wilson buried
1715 George Sacheverell buried
1716 Henry Ffolliott, 3rd Baron Ffolliott died
Lord Ffolliott is not mentioned as having been buried in the church or churchyard. While he was married to the older daughter of Henry and Jane Pudsey, Elizabeth, who is buried in the Pudsey vault, it is not clear if Ffolliott was buried here or back in his native Ireland. His daughter pre-deceased him and he died without a son, so the Barony of Ballyshannon became extinct on his death and his estate passed to a relative.
1719 William Jesson buried
1720 Riland succession
1727 Bishop Vesey Grammar School - current building
The current building on Lichfield Road which forms the main entrance to the school was built at this time.
1730 Antiquities of Warwickshire (new edition)
1742 Lady Ffolliott buried
1745 Roof repairs
1746 Simon Luttrell buys Four Oaks Hall
1748 Bishop Vesey effigy restored
1754 South gallery and Thomas Bonell
1759 New window
A faculty was granted for a new window in the North wall (opposite the South porch). However this was in the wall before the addition of the North aisle, so is no longer in place. The image is by NG Evans and shows the Vesey north wall before the addition of the aisle in 1879.
1760 Simon Luttrell builds a gallery
1762 Complaints about pews
1762 History 'by an impartial hand'
“The History of Sutton Coldfield by an Impartial Hand”, is in three parts. The first, originally printed as a magazine article, is a description of the town and its history, the second, “Continuation”, is in the form of a letter to the magazine editor, while the third, “Addendum” by “Agricola” gives a less rosy account of the town." (R Lea).The writing has been attributed to Thomas Bonell.
1769 Repairs and major alterations to church building
1779 Gallery - West end
1790 Richard Bisse Riland died
1802 Sarah Holbeche born
1806 South porch doors
The two outer (wooden) doors were hung in the South porch, still in place today.
1810 William Jesson Pearson died
1810 John Hacket died
1817 Mary Ashford
1817 Burial ground
The Archdeacon of Lichfield reported on the condition and inadequacy of the burial ground at Holy Trinity. The image is a map from 1765 by John Snape, as used by NG Evans.
1822 Revd John Riland dies
1825 Town School opens
Town School opened at the foot of what is now Trinity Hill (the buildings are now Sutton Baptist Church).
1826 William Kirkpatrick Riland Bedford born
The penultimate Rector of Holy Trinity from this family, and possibly the most influential, partly because of his length of service (42 years), the Revd William Kirkpatrick Riland Bedford also had two books published, one about the family living and the other a history of the town.
1828 Yew tree
The yew tree in the churchyard near the South east entrance was planted in April by the Rector, the Revd William Riland Bedford. This appears to have been cut down in the early twentieth century, certainly by the time the gravestones round the church were removed to the church perimeter fence in 1950/51. It is visible in this image (date unknown, ?1940s) as are the gravestones.
1828 Tower vestry
A vestry was put in the base of the tower for choir use, and the West door was replaced by a tracery window until 1874.
1828 Galleries for children
1829 Charles Chadwick buried
1829 Pulpit tester removed
1832 Burial ground enlarged
The churchyard area was enlarged taking in some of the land which was previously part of the grammar school (now on Lichfield Rd)
1835 St James Hill
A chapel was built at Hill (Mere Green) to cater for the increasing population. This was a 'daughter' church to begin with, not a separate parish. This building was not the current church (pictured).
1835 Diocese changed
The Archdeaconry of Coventry (which included Sutton Coldfield) was taken from the diocese of Lichfield and added to the Diocese of Worcester.
1836 Trinity Hill
Blind Lane was re-named Trinity Hill and widened and straightened with adjustments to the church boundary.
1843 William Riland Bedford and Dr Williamson
1844 Rectory in Coleshill Street built
1845 St John's Church, Walmley
The first of the neighbouring areas of the expanding town of Sutton Coldfield to have a church erected as part of a separate parish was Walmley.
1848 Thomas Holbeche dies
1850 William Kirkpatrick Riland Bedford becomes Rector
1850 Gas lighting installed
Gas lighting - by fish-tail jets - was installed in the church.
The earliest photographs of the church were taken by William M. Grundy. The drawing (pictured) by Norman Evans is from a photograph by Grundy of 1852.
1856 Joseph Mendham
The Revd Joseph Mendham, curate for 32 years and a distinguished scholar, died aged 87. The curates generally did the day to day work of a parish priest while the Rector might often be elsewhere, sometimes not always resident in a parish. His memorial (pictured) is on the north-west wall of the tower.
1856 Font installed
1857 St Michael's Church, Boldmere
St Michael's was consecrated by the Lord Bishop of Worcester on the 29th September. Prior to that Sunday worship had been taking place in the new girls' school set up in 1848.
1859 Masonic Lodge
The Revd William Kirkpatrick Riland Bedford became the first Master of the Warden Lodge, the first masonic hall in Sutton Coldfield. The current Hall is on Mill Street at the foot of Church Hill (see image).
1863 East window installed
1863 Organ by Gray and Davison
1863 Reredos removed from church
1863 Whitewash removed
Whitewash was removed from the interior walls of the church (to reveal the sandstone brickwork). The only area currently whitewashed is the south side of the church.
1864 Raising the roof
The church roof was declared unsafe in 1863, and so the building was closed while a new roof was built - the level of the ridge of the roof was raised by ten feet. The new ceiling of the nave was left plain.
1864 William Hartopp dies
1865 Transatlantic cable
The first transatlantic cable was produced by a firm in Penns, Sutton. Revd WK Riland Bedford noted: Messrs Webster were not only spinning the wire that was to bridge the Atlantic, in an electric cable, but entertaining their friends, the Darwins, Merivales, Robert Lowe and George Dawson." 300 years of a family living, p 158.
1868 Galleries for schoolchildren removed
1869 James Packwood
1869 West window in tower
1870 East window in Vesey Chapel
1870 Thomas Colmore dies
Thomas Colmore Esq. of Ashfurlong Hall had been a magistrate, Chairman of the Aston Board of Guardians and Warden of Sutton from 1864 to 1866. He is not to be confused with Quintus Charles Colmore to whom the Colmore window in the Choir vestry (former South Chapel) is dedicated. The image is of unknown origin (possibly from Savill's sales brochure 2009) and used by William Dargue.
1874 Tower vestry
1875 Tomb and Chancel changes
1876 New cemetery
The Burial Board for Holy Trinity (with the approval of the Secretary of State) considered locations for a new burial ground. The Board bought 6 acres of Barn Field for £1,500 and paid half the cost of building the Rectory Road site. The new cemetery was consecrated by the Bishop of Worcester on 4th May 1880 and the first burial was on Mon 1st November.
1878 Iron Church at Maney
A corrugated iron building for use as a church at Maney was consecrated in 1878. It was in Church Road just above the smithy. The Rector William K Riland Bedford put up the £650 for construction from his own money. The picture is from St Peter's centenary booklet (2005).
1878 Railway bridge
1879 North aisle and gallery built
1889 Three hundred years of a family living
1890 Communion table gifted
1891 George Preston dies
George Bamford Preston, head of Sutton Town Boys' School for 33 years was buried in the churchyard.
1891 'History of Sutton Coldfield' published
1891 A new extension?
The image is one part of plans by HR Yeoville Thomason in Birmingham Archives (ref: MS 1460/86) to extend the chancel Eastwards and build a new choir vestry, re-shaping the whole of the East end. The plans were never executed!
1892 William Campbell Riland Bedford becomes Rector
1892 Misericord gifted
1893 Richard Holbeche's diary
1898 Lych gate
1900 Iron church in Whitehouse Common Road
1901 Choir vestry in NW corner
1901 Organ added (Hope Jones)
1904 Charles Colmore dies
1905 William Kirkpatrick Riland Bedford dies
1905 Diocese of Birmingham created
Churches in Birmingham and surrounding areas including Sutton Coldfield were moved from Worcester Diocese to the new Diocese of Birmingham.
1905 St. Peter's Maney consecrated
St. Peter's was consecrated as a separate parish by the Rt Revd Charles Gore, Bishop of Birmingham on 28th June.
1905 Electric lighting installed
Holy Trinity was wired for electric lighting. The new organ (by Hope Jones) - pictured - was powered by electricity.
1908 All Saints, Four Oaks consecrated
Another parish was created to meet the demands of an expanding population, taking its land from the parish of St James, Hill. All Saints church is on the corner of Belwell Lane and Four Oaks Road.
1909 Advowson passes to Bishop of Birmingham
With the retirement of William Campbell Riland Bedford the patronage is passed to the new Diocese of Birmingham, and the Bishop appoints Charles W Barnard as Rector.
1914 Chancel ceiling painted
1922 William Campbell Riland Bedford dies
1926 William J Lyon becomes Rector
1927 St Chad's Hollyfield Road is consecrated
1928 Town pageant
The Sutton Coldfield Pageant of 1928 commemorated the granting of the town charter by Henry VIII in 1528. Bishop Vesey was played by Canon Frederick Stanley Golden who was Vicar of St Peter's Maney from 1920-46.
1928 Bazaar in a Japanese Garden
A large-scale fund-raising event was held at the Town Hall for restoration work carried out in 1929 (pictured).
1929 Major restoration of Vesey Chapel
1931 George Harvey becomes Rector
The Revd George L Harvey MA became Rector, serving until 1945.
1935 George V Jubilee
The Royal Town again held celebrations led by Alderman John Willmott who also wrote a play. This time he played the part of Bishop Vesey, and the success of this and the earlier pageant of 1928 precipitated the celebration of John Vesey through the setting up of the Vesey Gardens.
1939 Vesey Gardens
The gardens were laid as a visible memorial to the Bishop for the town, following extensive clearance of houses and two pubs on the Church Hill site.
1945 John Boggon becomes Rector
1949 Grade I listing
The church received its Grade I listing on 18th October. This is relatively unusual for a parish church.
1950 Organ replaced
A new pipe organ by Hill, Norman and Beard was installed with pipes (pictured) and pipework in the tower. The console was in the south-west corner just outside the then South Chapel (now choir vestry) which housed a chamber organ, allowing for better audibility at the chancel end of the church.
1950 Changes to churchyard
The gravestones were moved from round the church and placed at the perimeter, overlooking Trinity Hill, where they now edge the car park (see picture).
1956 Barnes window
1956 Church choir joins RSCM
Our choir, under the direction of Harold Gray, was affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music, a support body founded in 1927. The RSCM offers awards and training courses.
1959 Georgian house demolished
The early Georgian house built on the stone foundations of St Mary's Hall, at the corner of Trinity Hill and Coleshill Street, was demolished.
1959 Foundation of St Columba's Church
The foundation stone of St Columba's Church, Banner's Gate, was laid by the Mayor, Alderman Minnie Grounds JP.
1960 Library built in South Chapel
A library in oak was built in the South West corner chapel in memory of (William Edward) Douglas Clayton, a former churchwarden. This space is now the choir vestry.
1964 Ralph Vale dies
Ralph Vale had been a chorister at Holy Trinity for 61 years. He died aged 85. A memorial to him is in the stonework (South side) of the flight of stairs leading from the nave to the tower base.
1965 Mary Boggon window
1966 Alaric Rose appointed Rector
The Revd Canon Alaric Rose MA succeeded Canon John Boggon.
1969 South aisle repairs
During repairs, the Sacheverell vault was opened and found to contain 5 coffins all bearing names of Sacheverell and Chadwick families except one, probably of George's wife, Mary.
1974 Sutton Coldfield local government change
Sutton Coldfield moved local authority from Warwickshire to Birmingham as part of a national shake-up of local authority areas. A new county of the West Midlands was created comprising seven metropolitan authorities - Birmingham, Dudley, Coventry, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton.
1974 Borough flag displayed
Following local government re-organisation, the Royal Borough of Sutton Coldfield flag was moved to be displayed on the North wall of the Vesey Chapel. In May 2018 the flag was moved to its new home in the tower.
1983 South Porch inner doors fitted
The inner oak doors were fitted in the archway of the South porch in recognition of 50 years' ministry of the Rector, Alaric Rose.
1984 Ted Longman becomes Rector
The Revd Edward G Longman MA is appointed Rector following the retirement of Canon Alaric Rose. He is pictured with his wife Rose (who served as a Reader) attending the re-ordering thanksgiving service in October 2016.
1985 Alaric Rose dies
1986 Congregation photograph
A whole congregation photo was taken in the Vesey Gardens on Palm Sunday 1986 and was used as the frontispiece of the first full colour guide book of 1987.
1986 Major restoration of the stonework
The exterior stonework underwent major repair.
1987 Curate's house re-roofed
The house at the top of Trinity Hill (no. 1 - pictured) was re-roofed and modernised for use as a residence for future curates of Holy Trinity.
1987 History book
Norman G Evans produced "An investigation of Holy Trinity Parish Church Sutton Coldfield", the first full history of every aspect of the church. It was typed and several copies were made for the church, public library and various interested parties.
1987 Burial of ashes in churchyard
The first interment of ashes following cremation took place in a small garden of remembrance between the South porch and Coleshill Street. This practice continues.
1987 Major repairs to church and roof
These were completed at a cost of £75,000. Traces of a chimney stack, on the south side of the tower at the head of the spiral stairway, were removed.
1990 Commandments Board
The wooden board with the words of the Ten Commandments, Lord's Prayer and Creed in gold on a turquoise background, was made by Brian Dixon, Churchwarden, and Robert Alloway, Chorister, and erected on the corner surrounding the font at the West end of the nave. Following re-ordering in 2016, it now stands in the South West corner of the church.
1993 William Wood dies
1995 Foundation stone laid for Trinity Centre
1996 Trinity Centre opens
1997 Dan Connolly becomes Rector
The Revd Dan Connolly became 50th Rector of Holy Trinity at New Year 1997 and stayed until Dec 1998.
1998 Plane tree made safe
The large 120-year-old plane tree on the corner of the churchyard at the top of Trinity Hill was made safe, and the crumbling wall repaired at a total cost of £60,000 which was borne by Birmingham City Council.
2000 Induction of James Langstaff as Rector
2000 Flower festival
A large-scale flower festival was held in church with community groups of all kinds contributing displays. The festival celebrated the 700th anniversary of the church (inasmuch as a start date is known!)
2001 Town centre chaplain
A new post was filled by Cheryl Slusser to provide a town chaplaincy service. Sadly, this post was not renewed at the end of Cheryl's tenure.
2006 John Routh becomes Rector
2008 Rectory becomes Bishop's Lodge
2011 "Creation" flower festival
A weekend at the end of September turned warm and provided a lovely backdrop to this fund-raising festival, with flower arrangements reflecting the theme of Creation.
2013 Friends of Holy Trinity
2016 Church interior re-ordered
A major refurbishment of the interior was undertaken to create a new entrance and a flexible and accessible space for worship and other activities.
2016 Dedication of the re-ordered church
A service of dedication was held at 10am on Sunday 2nd October 2016 as the formal re-opening of the newly re-ordered church. The President at Holy Communion was the Lord Bishop of Birmingham, Revd David Urquhart.
2016 Heritage Lottery Fund Grant Awarded
The HLF awarded a grant for "Holy Trinity Parish Church: heritage at the heart of Sutton Coldfield". The project ran from January 2017 to 2019, allowing the church to create a volunteer stewards' programme and create new historical records and activities for the community.
2018 Re-ordering phase 2
2018 Church guide book
A new guide book was published in December, made possible through the Heritage Lottery Fund grant (2017-18). The guide offers an easy-to-follow tour with fold-out plan and gives just enough background information while you tour the building and grounds. Lavishly illustrated throughout it is also a lovely memento of the church - past and present. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to order a copy - £4 to collect from church or Trinity Centre or £6 to have it posted to you.
2019 Heritage project celebration
We celebrated the end of the funded phase of our project with a lunch in the church on Sunday 3rd February, attended by members of the church congregation and project partners. The date turned out to be the feast day of St Blaise who was the patron saint of the forerunner of Holy Trinity - the chapel at the Manor House in Sutton Coldfield. It was also the date 2 years previously on which the Sutton Coldfield Observer published our press release announcing the start of our project.