Rodington is the site of one of the oldest churches in the District – the only Manors in the “hundred of ‘Recordin” (Wrockwardine) which have churches mentioned in the Doomsday Book are:
Stoche (Stoke on Tern)
Before 1823 Rodington Church was, as far as can be discovered, a stone building with the stone uncovered both inside and outside, just as the panel facing the present entrance door.
The church then consisted only of the present nave 45’ x 25’. The entrance, the position of which is not known but probably at the west end, had a circular window over it. The west window had not been put in, there being a gallery to accommodate about 40 people at the west end. There was then no porch but a bell turret probably similar to the present one. The interior of the church was probably similar to Tibberton Church.
Repairs were carried out to the roof in 1791 and again in 1798, at which date 4000 tiles were used and the weathercock was repaired; the total cost was £51. Again in 1811 further repairs at a total cost of £138 were carried out, which included £1.16.0 for taking down the tower (probably the bell turret). From subsequent entries in the old accounts the turret must have been re-erected almost immediately
In 1823 a vestry 15’ x 12’ was added on to the north corner of the church for the express purpose of obviating the necessity of the curate waiting in the Inn when he arrived early and of holding the vestry meeting in the Inn. The new vestry was also intended to serve as a schoolroom. It is in 1824 records show the first purchase of fuel, to heat not the church but the vestry.
20 years afterwards, however, later in 1843, this vestry was removed to the east end to serve as a chancel. The pulpit and reading desk were removed from the north side of the church to the centre, and the communion rail was moved into the new chancel. The gallery was also enlarged and a new Dame School was built on the north side of the path leading west from the church just near the present ’Jubilee’ gates, to replace the use of the old vestry (now the chancel).
A vestry, not the present one, was also built at the expense of the Rector at the time, Rev. Thomas Charles Pearson. At this date it also appears that a board or boards with the Commandments written thereon were erected in the Church, although they had been purchased from Wrockwardine Parish in 1825.
In 1829 the present stone font was erected, replacing an iron ring for a common basin.
In 1841 trees were planted in the churchyard and in 1849 the first gutters were put on the church.
In 1851 a very much greater renovation was undertaken but unfortunately much of the character of the old building was lost, and the church took on the appearance which we now know. The north aisle was built, the then chancel (the old vestry) was taken down and the present chancel and chancel arch were built, but neither the north aisle nor the chancel appears to have been consecrated.
The tiles on the floor inside the altar rails appear to be copies of those on the floor of the Chapter House in Westminster Abbey, and were probably made by Minton of Stoke-on-Trent. The exterior of the nave was encased in brick. The bell turret was taken down and re-built and the porch was put up. The then entrance door and window over it and one window in the south side were bricked in.
Inside, the old pews which were to have been altered and the doors removed seem to have been removed and the existing ones put in. The floor of the nave was lowered to its present level and the interior of the church was plastered. The gallery was also removed and the west window put in.
The pulpit was moved to its present position and the nave also seems to have been re-roofed, the old tiles having been re-used in the new north aisle, where they are still to be seen. In this renovation a memorial to John Tayleur dated 1737, formerly a resident in this Parish, seems to have disappeared.
This large renovation seems to have been carried out with the aid of a grant from the Incorporated Church Building Society and also with a loan from the bank which in 1865 stood at £60 still owing, and which was not paid off until 1874. It was a loan of £75 originally and the total cost of the work is given at £700.
By 1858 it appears that some form of coal stove was used to heat the church. The stove was at the west end of the church. A new stove below the floor of the nave was installed about 1900. It appears that the organ must have been installed just prior to 1865, at which date the first payment to the organist is recorded, although until 1877 the organist seems to have provided his own blower, for the first payment for organ blowing is at that date.
In 1882 the present cemetery was opened. The first insurance on the church was taken out in 1876. By 1883 the ivy on the church, planted sometime since 1851, no doubt to hide the new brick casing of the old stonework, had grown sufficiently to require cutting, and each year thereafter. It was stripped from the walls about 1943.
In 1887 there is the first recorded purchase of oil (for lamps) although the old candle lighting continued to be used in parts of the church up to 1895, when three more lamps were purchased, and candles were used only on the lectern, the pulpit and in the chancel. In 1891 a petroleum (paraffin) heating stove was purchased for use in the vestry.
The present church safe was installed in 1903; the electric light in 1940 – the gift of Mr. J.H. Jones of Bank Farm near Shrewsbury, a former churchwarden. The present McClary heater dates from 1938 and the electrical heating system 1960.
It is interesting to note over the years the dates when the bell ropes were renewed; these are 1796, 1799, 1803, 1822, 1829, 1842, 1849, 1859 and 1875. These were last renewed during the 1939 -45 war, in 1944 when the bells were allowed to be rung again for church services. (Since 1939 church bells had been kept as an alarm signal in case of airborne invasion) The bell turret woodwork was renewed in 1914 and subsequently rebuilt in 1939.
A decision on the removal of the steps in the path leading west from the church hall had in 1884 been left over until a more definite expression of the wish of the Parish could be obtained, following a 2 and 2 vote at a Parochial Church Council meeting in that year. They were removed by the rector in 1949 and the fact announced to the P.C.C.
Music for the services was provided from 1790 – 1843 by paid psalm singers for the total sum of £1 per year, which was increased to £1.1.0 in 1843 to cover the payment to an instructor. In 1849 we find a Base Viol being used and in 1853 three singers were paid £3 per year; this number continued until at least 1866. In one year, 1858, there were however six singers. The organ, as stated above, was installed in 1864 or thereabouts.
Church expenses, which in 1789 were averaging about £9 per year, were until 1874 paid from a rate levied on the Parish by the churchwardens and from the rate besides expenses of keeping the church in repair; such expenses as the following were paid:-
- 1795 -1829 payment for sparrows heads, presumably to keep the numbers down.
- 1798 -1861 repairs to the bridge, which is mentioned in the Bull Ring
- 1815 – Provision of a new iron chest for keeping the registers in. This chest and new registers had been enforced in an Act of 1812. It appears that there was an earlier chest, probably of wood.
- 1840 – Subscription to the Salop Infirmary, no doubt on behalf of the whole Parish; this in 1846 was increased from £1.1.0 to £2.2.0
- 1858 – and for some time thereafter, payment of a Schoolmaster’s salary at £4.0.0 p.a.
After 1874 church expenses concerned only the maintenance and running of the church and churchyard and the necessary money for it was raised by subscription until 1877. In that year the first mention of Offertory money is made and in 1880 of the Easter Offertory as a separate item. Subscriptions continued to be given and in 1890 produced over three quarters of the money needed; in 1893 half of the necessary money. From 1894 onwards the money was raised from Offertories only. Concerts and other entertainments were however held in 1893, 1895, 1897 and 1907; morning and evening collections every Sunday being started from 1907 onwards in aid of church funds.