This section of our site details some varied occasions in the church and town, usually for fund-raising or entertainment or a mix of both.
From the Trinity Fairs of old through the fund-raising bazaars of the nineteenth and early twentieth century to the large scale town pageant of 1928 and beyond, we give a flavour of some of the events which shaped the church and town working together.
Historian Margaret Gardner wrote about the annual Fairs at Trinity-tide, the week after the festival of Pentecost (Whitsun) which in turn falls 50 days after Easter Day, so is a variable date each year.
These started in 1300 with the granting of a charter for a weekly market and an annual fair “on the eve and feast of the Holy Trinity and two days following.”
At various points the fair petered out and new charters were granted, most famously by Bishop Vesey as part of his improvements in the early sixteenth century.
The last folding of the annual fairs was in the 1930s. Since then the church ran a few Trinity Fairs in the 1990s on the Saturday before Trinity Sunday within the church site, using the facilities of the church and Trinity Centre. These were akin to a standard church or school fete and met with mixed success largely because when the date falls early it can still be quite cold, or some years it falls in half-term!
The full article on the early fairs, called “The feast of Holy Trinity”, can be read here:
Many churches hold fetes which are called bazaars, offering a selection of stalls and attractions to raise money alongside a day out for local people.
In the past such events were a way to buy produce more cheaply especially home-made goods, or knitted or sewn garments when such things were not so readily available as they are today.
The following relates to two rather distinctive fund-raising bazaars which were, it must be said, not the usual run of homely day out combined with a bit of fund-raising, but minutely planned occasions using the Town Hall over several days of selling, and aiming for a substantial amount of funds to be raised in order to effect repairs and new building in the church.
To this end, both produced printed brochures containing details of the stalls on offer and peppered with advertisements which presumably defrayed the expense of printing.
The first was in 1899 and took place over 4 days. This was in aid of the “new choir vestry and organ fund” and clearly was successful, as both came to fruition in 1901. The total amount required was £2000, and the programme stated that half this sum had been raised by parishioners.
An ‘inflation calculator’ suggests that for 1899 prices to translate to 2018, £1000 would now equate to £120,000. This was serious fund-raising.
The other bazaar, over three days in 1928, was styled “in a Japanese garden” perhaps nodding to the exotic attraction of the Far East at that time! This would have been hotfoot on some significant fund-raising for the Town Pageant of that year (see below).
The funds were required this time for the final painting of the ceilings, formation of the Vesey Chapel (the screen had been given in memory of former Rector Charles Barnard and his wife) and the redecoration of the church. The images included a list of patrons of this event.
The images are a selection from the respective bazaar programmes.
Sutton Coldfield Pageant
This took place in July 1928 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter to Sutton Coldfield by Henry VIII via Bishop Vesey.
It was a very large-scale affair though preparations only started in April for the July event. Patrons included not only local dignitaries but peers and royalty (both the Duke of York and the Duke of Gloucester) and the prime minister – Stanley Baldwin. Congratulatory letters were received from both the King and the Prince of Wales.
With ticket sales and a lot of goodwill from traders, the event covered its costs.
A play about the history of the town, written by John Willmott, was performed in a series of scenes covering key moments from “The Icknield Street (Roman road) in c100 through the last struggle of the English (1070), various scenes from Bishop Vesey’s time and the nineteenth century incorporation of the borough.
The programme gives full details of the content of each scene and the names of the many people involved in all aspects of the production of each scene.
On this occasion Bishop Vesey was played by Canon Golden of St Peter’s.
A selection of programme pages is shown together with a press cutting of the time.
A website relating to town pageants across the UK offers a great amount of detail – see Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Sutton Coldfield Pageant’, The Redress of the Past,
George V Jubilee 1935
The Silver Jubilee saw the Town come out again to perform a play about Vesey, again written by John Willmott (now an Alderman) who this time played the part of the Bishop.
it was the pageant and this play that led John Willmott to press for a more visible memorial to Bishop Vesey than the tomb in the church, and in 1939, the Vesey Gardens and memorial in front of the church on Church Hillcame into being.
To celebrate both the millennium and approximately 700 years of Holy Trinity, a flower festival was organised in 2000.
It was very much a community event with a wide range of flower groups, local businesses, schools and community groups all contributing displays in the church.
The success of this led to a further festival in 2011 on the theme of “Creation” and then two successful Christmas Tree festivals in 2013 and 2014.
A major fund-raising event until the 1990s was the annual September “Garden Party” in the grounds of the Rectory in Coleshill Street. This relied very much on the goodwill of the Rector at the time but was a very good way of attracting the public who wished to see the otherwise private gardens, which were really quite stunning.
A number of attractions, stalls and even donkey rides and a water slide for children ensured fun was had and money was raised, always for good causes beyond the church.