The Building of St Paul’s Church, Birmingham in the 1770s

An estimate of the expenses and receipts in building St Paul’s chapel

Up to May14th 1778 HK had paid out, excluding payments to the builders, £1236, most of it for building supplies. This figure is near enough confirmed by his cash withdrawal figures. Together with the £4200 for the builders, the minimum recorded cost was therefore £5436. Other costs probably outside the scope of the builders could have included the communion table, the altar rail, the bell, and an organ, but little in the way of vestments and internal decoration, and no clock or communion plate. A total cost estimate of about £6000 would seem reasonable. Before the end of 1776 a meeting of the trustees had decided that HK should “receive and pay all moneys relating to the Business (i.e.) first paying the same into the Bank & fetching it out as wanted. The Bills to be first allowed by the Trustees”. The system HK was to operate followed these instructions, namely all the cash he collected had to be paid in, and separately cash was withdrawn to pay the bills, once the trustees had approved them. HK kept a record of the cash he collected and paid into the bank, which was Taylor and Lloyds, founded in 1765, the first bank to open in Birmingham, and who acted as treasurer for the original Committee. Records of cash withdrawals and of every payment, to whom, usually for what and how much were also made. HK also records when three of the calls for 25% tranches of the subscribed amount were made. The first call must have been made in June 1776, as collecting started in December 1776. If £3000 had been subscribed before building started then the first call, at 25%, should have yielded £750. By plotting out the information in HK on cash deposits it can be shown that:- the first call, for 25%, produced only £250, the second call, another 25%, produced £600 the third call, for the third 25%, produced £950. So by March 1778 the total cash collected was £1800, supposedly for three quarters of the subscriptions. The final call was made in April 1778 and there the records cease. Without the subscription books it is impossible to understand what this is all about. With an anticipated completion date of March 1st 1779 the trustees had a year to raise at least £4200, from existing subscriptions, new subscriptions, events such as the Music Festival and their own guarantees. There had to be an enormous surge in the payments of subscriptions in response to the last call, and in new subscriptions if the trustees were not to be very heavily burdened. Yet at that at the meeting in 1774 a cap on fundraising had been set at £8000! One source states that 1000 people subscribed £5 to buy a sitting. If they had subscribed this amount, the £5000 plus £1000 would have delighted the trustees. There is no evidence of any sort in HK that this happened.

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