Get quizzical with these
1. One of the parish church’s curates was 17th in direct line to Edward 1. Rev Carew Thomas Elers, later vicar of Bickenhill.
2. There’s a bird in permanent residence in the ringing chamber. Dove. A bellringer’s guide to the church bells of Great Britain (commonly known as Dove’s) was first published in book form in March 1950 by Ronald Dove and is still in production. We’re in it.
The picture shows he visited the tower on 26 March 1950, signing in as the first entry in the ringers’ guest book.
3. There’s a third “saint” connected to the church. Who? Why was he saintly? Rev John Kettlewell, who was fondly remembered, keeping in touch with parishioners after he left.
He was buried in the crypt at All Hallows Church, Barking. The church was badly bombed in the Blitz. Kettlewell's memorial tablet survived (just!).
John Strype, the ecclesiastical historian and biographer, records it in his survey of London 1720.
In the Chancel. John Kettlewell, A.M. some time Pastor of Coles Hill in Warwickshire: Died Apr. 12. 1695. His Inscription upon his Monument fixed to a Pillar at the South Side of the Altar, deserves here to be set down, to preserve the Memory of an excellent Clergyman.
4. Two Special Visitors (above)were expected for a ride on Bert. Both were clergymen, one fat, the other thin.
Tit for Tat is a story from the Thomas the Tank Engine series, from which the picture was taken.
Who was the Fat Clergyman? What was his connection to the church? The Rev Teddy Boston, vicar of Cadeby, (Leicestershire), and a steam fanatic with a full size railway in the vicarage garden.
His brother, the Rev Noel Boston, was a curate here in the 1930s and an expert on church music and instruments, writer of ghost stories, discoverer of the Holy Grail (in Wales) and other fascinations. Both came from the area.
5. The mural (bottom middle) is on a wall by an art gallery in Springfield, Oregon. What links the mountain to Coleshill, the church before it became the Spice Lounge, and the parish church? The mountain is Mount Pizgah, in the Mount Pizgah arboretum south of Springfield, said to be home of the Springfields writer. Springfield is across Interstate 5 from Eugene, where the Rev Nick was at St Mary’s before he came to Coleshill.
Mount Pizgah is mentioned in last verse of the poem dictated by blind preacher William Walford to the pastor at the then Birmingham Road congregational church. It was later set to music and is now familiar as Sweet Hour of Prayer.
6. What did conservation work find under heavy dust over the de Clinton effigies in the church? Centuries old pigment, showing what a colourful place the church must have been then.
7. What’s the elderly spider doing hanging from the ringing chamber ceiling? Hundreds of visitors to the tower will remember the wooden “spider” which keeps the bell ropes out of the way and safe when not in use. It’s what’s left of the centuries old bell frame replaced in the 1970s.
8. Father George Vincent Hudson rightly deserves his place in the history of the town. An 18th century Hudson, the well-educated son of a sexton at the church, made his mark in South Africa. Who was he? Who was his tutor?
Samuel Eusebius Hudson, born Gilson 1764, was South Africa’s answer to Samuel Pepys.
He was an artist, clerk of customs, journalist, merchant, novelist and social commentator. He was taught by the vicar Rev John Blyth.
9. Mention gas and first thoughts of people with long memories are of the LURGI plant which dominated Gorsey Lane well before the container park came along. What was the LURGI plant?
A gas production method. The Gas Council had joined forces with the German Lurgi company to develop new approaches to gasifying lower grade coal. The Coleshill plant on Gorsey Lane and near to the hundreds of thousands of tons of coal needed every year, rail links and water, was years in the planning. The process may have gone on to provide a greater part of Britain’s gas supply, but decisions had been made to switch to natural gas.
10. Only a handful of residents might remember the Coleshill Gas Company, which supplied the town with gas from its premises and gas holders on Station Road until the company was wound up in 1936. How did a Coleshill Gas Company shareholder support the needy in town over three decades? Widow Mrs Anne Wright lived at Hillside Cottage (now demolished) on the lower High Street in the 1890s.
In December 1891 she transferred 20 shares in the company to parish church wardens, wishing that the dividends be distributed annually among the poor of the parish. The dividends were shared until the shares were sold to the Birmingham Gas Company in 1935 and the Coleshill Gas Company wound up.
Mrs Wright moved to Scarborough and used her money to open hospitals there.
11.Picture bottom middle. Late 19th century vicar’s granddaughter Rachel Pinney was a member of Ferguson’s Gang, a group of women formed to protect rural England. Using pseudonyms and in disguise they delivered funds to the National Trust, getting enormous publicity.
Her story is told in Ferguson's Gang: The Remarkable Story of the National Trust Gangsters. Readers who are NT visitors or members may have bought a copy of it.
12. What links the grave in the old cemetery of 19th century Royal Navy Lt Charles Palmer, Napoleon, two Coleshill vicars, and Admiral Nelson?
Napoleon surrendered to the captain of HMS Bellerophon in 1815.
The ship fought at the Battle of Trafalgar. Bellerophon's signal midshipman at the battle, John Franklin, noted that Nelson had hoisted the signal "England expects that every man will do his duty".
Captain Henry Digby, son and brother of two Coleshill vicars, was captain of 64-gun HMS Africa at the battle.
Between them, Franklin and Parry led five Arctic expeditions, three of which Lt Palmer took part in. They are mentioned on the slab on his grave in the old cemetery.