• Welcome to this forum Guest. We are a worldwide group with a common interest in Birmingham and its history. While here, please follow a few simple rules. We ask that you respect other members, thank those who have helped you and please keep your contributions on-topic with the thread.

    We do hope you enjoy your visit. BHF Admin Team

John Leland and the Deritend Chapel 1538

Thylacine

master brummie
In about 1538, the poet and antiquary John Leland visited Birmingham. This short but interesting visit is perhaps best described in his own words (observe that he spells the name of the town in three different ways in the space of a few short paragraphs):
I cam thoroughe a praty strete or evar I enteryd into Bremischam toune. This strete, as I remember, is caullyd Dyrtey [Deritend], in it dwelle smithes and cuttelers, and there is a brooke [Rea] that devydithe this strete from Bremisham. Dyrtey is but an hamlet or membre longynge to [Aston] paroche therby and is clene seperated from Bremischam paroche.

There is at the end of Dyrtey a propre chaple and mansion howse of tymbar [Old Crown], hard on the rype [bank] as the brooke cummithe downe, and as I went thrwghe the forde by the bridge, the watar ran downe on the ryght hond, and a fewe miles lowere goithe into Tame rypa dextra [by the right bank].

This broke risethe, as some say, a four or five miles above Bremicham toward the Blake [Clent] hills in Worcestershire. This broke above Dyrtye brekethe into two armes that a litle benethe the bridge close agayne.

The bewty of Bremischam, a good market towne in the extreme partes that way of Warwikeshire, is in one strete goynge up alonge almoste from the lefte ripe of the broke up a mene hille by the lengthe of a quartar of a mile. I saw but one paroche churche in the towne. There be many smithes in the towne that use to make knives and all maner of cuttynge tooles, and many lorimars that make byts, and a greate many naylors. So that a great parte of the towne is mayntayned by smithes.

The smithes there have yren [iron] out of Staffordshire and Warwikeshire and see coale out of Staffordshire.​
The "propre chaple" that Leland passed as he travelled along the "praty strete" was the Chapel of St John, built in 1375-1381. Below are two 19th century conjectural pictures of Deritend Chapel as it was supposed to have looked in the 14th century. The pictures are very similar, but differ in some significant details. I would guess that they are derived from a common original drawing or painting. My sources are fairly reticent on this point, but the author of Memorials of Old Birmingham mentions an "original drawing" without going into detail. The second picture is seen on numerous websites, including Bill Dargue's History of Birmingham Places & Placenames ... from A to Y.

Does anyone know any more about the pictures and the original from which they were derived?

Sources:
Leland quotation: John Leland (editor Lucy Toulmin Smith). The Itinerary Parts IV and V. London: George Bell and Sons, 1908. Page n107.
Picture [1]: Toulmin Smith. Memorials of Old Birmingham: Men and Names. Birmingham: Sackett, 1864. Page n5.
Picture [2]: Robert K Dent. Old and New Birmingham. Birmingham: Houghton and Hammond, 1880. Page n24.​
 

Attachments

Last edited by a moderator:

Christina

master brummie
Hard to visulise how Digbeth and Deritend use to look all those years back when you think of it now. As my Hanson/Redding side of the family all came from that area, 1645 onwards I'm very much interested in it. There are quite a few books out there with good photographic/etching illustrations. Use as many as I can in my family tree to show the areas they lived in. Thanks for the photo's, it must have been quite lovely.
 

Thylacine

master brummie
William Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire Illustrated (London: by Thomas Warren, 1656). Pages 644-645 (somewhat edited):
Deretend.

This place (antiently written Dury-yate-hend) though it be within the Parish of Aston, is parcell of the Lordship of Bermingham; so that of it self there is nothing farther memorable than a certain Chapell, erected about the beginning of King Richard the second's time [1377-1399]; wherein by an Agreement made 13 June 1381 ... betwixt the Monks of Tykford in right of their Rectorie of Aston before specified, Richard Shobenhale then Vicar of Aston, and Sir John Botetort Knight, Patron of the said Priorie of Tykford, on the one part: And Sir John Birmingham Knight Lord of this Hamlet, Geffrey Boteler, Robert Greene, and others, Inhabitants here and in Bordsley, on the other part; by the consent of Robert de Stretton then Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, the said Inhabitants of these two Hamlets, partly in respect of the danger by flouds, especially in Winter-time, and their great distance from the said mother-Church of Aston; and partly that their Children might not want Baptisme, in case of necessity, there should be a Font in the said Chapell, and that they might have libertie to find at their own proper costs, a fitting Priest to celebrate divine Service therein, as also for Churching of women. Provided that the same Inhabitants should repaire to the said mother-Church of Aston, on Easter-day, Christmasse-day, All-Hallown-day, and the days of the Dedication of the said Church, ... S Peter and S Paul, hapning next after the Feasts of the Nativity of S John Baptist, and Purification of the blessed Virgin; then and there to render and pay to God and the said Parish Church, all their Tithes, great and small, with Oblations, in such sort as they had antiently used, and were of right to do to the same Church. Which Priest so serving in this Chapell, was by the before specified Agreement in case the Vicar of Aston for the time being, or his Parochiall Priest could not attend it, to visit the sicke of these two Hamlets, and to administer unto them, as also to confesse and absolve them, so as they should shrive themselves once a yeare to the said Vicar of Aston, or his Parochiall Priest, as of right they ought.​
Pictured below: the Deritend Chapel as seen in Hollar's "Prospect of Bermingham from Ravenhurst" [Dugdale, page 655.]
 
Last edited:

Thylacine

master brummie
Pioneer Birmingham historian William Hutton provides an interesting account of the later history of the Deritend Chapel.

William Hutton's History of Birmingham (Sixth edition. Birmingham: James Guest, 1835). Pages 257-258 (somewhat edited):
St John's Chapel, Deritend.

This, though joining to the parish of Birmingham, is a chapel of ease belonging to Aston, two miles distant. Founded in ... 1382. As soon as the chapel was erected, William Geffen, Thomas Holden, Robert of the Green, Richard Bene, Thomas de Belne, and John Smith, procured a license from the king, to enable them to endow it with lands ... to support a priest; who, with his successors, seem to have exercised the usual functions of office, as singing, eating, preaching, and sleeping, till 1537, when Henry VIII seized the property as chantry lands. ... Two priests, who officiated at Aston, then possessed the pulpit, and divided the income.

I am inclined to think, by interest made to the crown, Henry returned the lands; for in 1553, we find John Mole and Edward Keys, incumbents of Deritend ....

In 1677, Humphrey Lowe, of Coventry, bequeathed a farm at Rowley-Regis, called the Brick-house ... to support the chapel. This bequest is held, in trust, by six of the inhabitants of Deritend or Bordesley.

Solicitations were made in 1707, for Queen Ann's bounty, but ... they were rejected.

This chapel does not, like others in Birmingham, seem to have been erected first, and then the houses brought round it. It appears, by its extreme circumscribed latitude, to have been founded upon the site of other buildings, which were purchased, or rather given, by Sir John de Birmingham, Lord of Deritend, and situated upon the boundaries of the manor, perhaps to accommodate in some measure the people of Digbeth; because the church in Birmingham must, for many ages, have been too small for the inhabitants.

Time seems to have worn out that building of 1382, in the windows of which were the arms of Lord Dudley, and Dudley empaling Berkley, both knights of the garter, descended from the Somerys, Barons of Dudley castle; also a whole figure of Walter Arden Esq, of an ancient family, often mentioned Lord of Bordesley. The present building was erected in 1735, and the steeple in 1762. In 1777, eight of the most musical bells, together with a clock entered the steeple. ... The building is of brick, and will accommodate about seven hundred persons. The incumbent is elected by the inhabitant householders of the hamlets of Deritend and Bordesley.​
Pictured below: the Deritend Chapel circa 1780. [Hutton, facing page 257.]

Note added: the clock installed in 1777 was made by eminent Birmingham clockmaker George Donisthorpe (died 1802).
 
Last edited:

Thylacine

master brummie
The later history of the Chapel of St John, Deritend, is rather sad. In 1939 it merged with St Basil, Deritend, and the site was sold to the city authorities. By 1943 it was in use as a furniture warehouse. After being severely damaged by bombing in WW2, it was demolished in 1947.

Pictured below: the Deritend Chapel in the 1920s (Replacement)
 

Attachments

Last edited by a moderator:

Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
Not to be left out of this terrific debate, Leland also noted the more secular side of Deritend, mentioned on the Moor Street Prison thread (cough)

"When Leland visited Birmingham in 1538 he approached from the south, and would have been traversing the parish of Aston in the hamlet of Bordesley and until he crossed the Rea, for Aston circled eastward of Birmingham, and even in the 19th Century it had a goal in Bordesley behind the Brown Lion Inn. The goal, consisting of only two cellars, was known as ‘Brownell's Hole’ after W.D.Brownell, the goaler, whose wife Jemima kept the Inn.” We know now that the original site was in Bordesley under the Lamp Tavern. I understand that there will be an article on the excavation and findings in the Mail soon from Dave Cross. Sounds cool from what he told me as a trailer. I know. Blundering about off topic as usual. Apologies.
 

Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
Getting back on track, it is interesting to note that in the opening years of the 16th Century, a nearby lorimer's son became a pupil of the Gild of St John at the Church, before Edward Vi founded his grammar school, and after going up to Cambridge some time later, became a priest. Then together with William Tyndale and John Frith, they translated the Bible into an English version known as the 'Matthew Bible'. His name was John Rogers. The Birmingham Martyr. He was also associated with Bishop Ridley and Bishop Latimer, and in 1554, he was burned at the stake alongside them for his trouble by Mary Tudor. There were two small plaques commemorating his contributions to Birmingham History on a wall at Cranes Screw Factory at some time. Still there when I last looked.
Much more on him at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rogers_(Bible_editor_and_martyr)
 
Last edited:

Thylacine

master brummie
Thanks for your contributions.

Toulmin Smith calls the Deritend Chapel "the first church of the Reformation". He is referring here to the proto-Reformation of the 14th century led by John Wycliffe (circa 1328-1384) and others such as West Midlander William Langland (circa 1332-1386), author of the Middle English dream-vision poem Piers Plowman. Hence there is a (more tenuous) connection between the ecclesiastical rebels of Deritend and Bordesley and the Great Rising of 1381 (aka the Peasants' Revolt).

The 16th century sacrifice of Deritend man John Rogers is in keeping with this tradition.

I have been unable to find a 19th century picture of the chapel. Can anyone oblige? (Or 15th or 16th century for that matter!)
 
Last edited:

Thylacine

master brummie
It's all grist for the history mill, Bordesley. But it certainly helps to know what we're looking at. The last picture you posted is apparently based on the 1656 view seen at post #10. Not too bad for an "artist's impression of an artist's impression". It certainly helps the imagination.
 

Thylacine

master brummie
Lovely map, Dennis, which though dating from 1731 still appears to show the old (pre 1735) chapel.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Thylacine

master brummie
Bordesley, I agree that the picture map looks like Bernard Sleigh's (1879-1954) Picture Map of the City of Birmingham in the Year 1730 (Birmingham: Cornish Brothers, 1924). The (old) Deritend Chapel can just be seen (lower left) on the YouTube trailer at time 0:49.

Did you ever get hold of a copy of that map, Dennis? It must have taken Sleigh a great deal of time and hard work.

On second look, Bordesley's picture perhaps isn't from Sleigh's map: the bridge over the Rea looks different. Can anyone capture the frame from the Sleigh video?
 
Last edited:

BordesleyExile

master brummie
I have a real fascination for picture maps, even if they are not completely to be relied on. This picture seems to show the older St Johns Chapel in geographical context. Can anyone identify the picture map?
I think the picture is from Wesleys 1730 East Prospect of Birmingham.
 

Thylacine

master brummie
Thanks for that, Bordesley!

I'd like us to tease out the story of the "New Chapel", especially in the 19th century. There must surely be photographs. Here's a snippet from W B Stephens's History of the County of Warwick (1964):
Sarah Dallaway, by will dated 1820, put in trust all her pews, sittings, and kneelings in the chapel of St John, Deritend, the rents to be used in providing gowns for poor widows of Deritend. In 1835 twenty-four shillings were received from the rent of one pew, and [funds] were regularly used in the purchase of gowns. In 1872-1874 it was said that nothing was apparently then received in respect of the charity.
Contributions please ...
 
Last edited:

Thylacine

master brummie
By the early 19th century, the sad state of the 1735 Deritend Chapel had become a matter of public controversy. The following is a somewhat edited extract from a letter to the editor of the Gentleman's Magazine (June 1818). The author, who signs himself "Orthodox", gives a general history of the Deritend Chapel, and makes the intriguing remark: "A sketch of the building has been preserved as it is said to have stood about the year 1590". After telling us "that the present annual income is generally understood to be about £400", he concludes:
The Chapel is of brick, with stone casings to the doors and windows, and calculated to contain upwards of 1,100 persons conveniently; but, from its situation, incapable of enlargement, although the great and increasing population of the neighbourhood renders more accommodation absolutely necessary. The building, for want of funds exclusively appropriated to its repairs, has been suffered to run into rather a dilapidated state, and probably would now require £1,000-1,500 to repair it thoroughly; and, if delayed much longer, the expenses of such a measure will be enormous: whether other means will be found for these repairs, or whether the inhabitants will bring forward the requiring necessity, and compel the Trustees to expend the rents of the Rowley Estate for the purpose, time will show; but that the necessity does require immediate repairs is allowed by all; and surely it will be unjust towards any succeeding Minister, if he is allowed to find his Chapel dilapidated immediately on election. The necessity imperiously calls upon the Trustees and inhabitants to find other means for the purpose, or upon the Trustees to execute the Trusts created by the original Grantor; and if they wilfully fail in their duty, it is understood that the Estate will revert to the Grantor's heir at law. A sinking fund seems to present itself as a proper mode in future by which the Chapel may be repaired, and the incumbent very little oppressed.

I take this opportunity of submitting to the Inhabitants of Deritend and Bordesley, friends of the Established Church, the propriety, if not necessity, of a new, large, and in part a free Chapel. There is no accommodation for the poorer classes, who are consequently driven to Conventicles; and, if a proper erection was made, many, no doubt, would be retained within the fold, and others reclaimed. Somewhere about the upper end of Bordesley, or Bradford-street, seems a desirable situation, and the present is certainly a most apt time. Very material assistance may be obtained from the National Fund, by early application; and I feel great confidence that a subscription, fully equal to the objects in view, would be readily entered into by the wealthy and liberal inhabitants.
 

Thylacine

master brummie
That's a fine 1940s picture of the 1735 chapel, DW, and only our second 20th century picture. According to post #16 (which has a 1920s view), the chapel was de-consecrated (is that a word?) by the time your picture was taken, and was soon to be a furniture warehouse, and then irreparably damaged in WW2 bombing. Some more information about these declining years would be quite acceptable.

(Replacement)
 

Attachments

Top