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

A comparison of the two schemes

St Mary’s was designed for a thousand sittings by a professional architect, who carried out the building work. St Paul’s was designed by a surveyor and was also for a thousand sittings, but the latter did not include a steeple. Eykyn and Kempson managed the scheme initially, but builders were brought in to complete the job. The estimated cost of St Mary’s is £4700 and of St Paul’s about £6000. On the face of it St Paul’s should have cost less, but many of the actions of the trustees were affected by the difficulty in raising funds and the seven year rule, and it is suggested they influenced, heavily, the figure that the builders were able to charge to guarantee a satisfactory completion date. On subscriptions St Mary’s seemed to get off to a flyer, with two donations totalling £1700 a great help for reaching the target the trustees had set of £3000 to start building. Then the momentum was with them and the subscriptions totalling £4530 plus the proceeds of the Music Festival paid the cost and more, although not without some difficulties along the way. It was always going to be difficult to maintain the momentum into a second chapel. Those keenest for their own sitting will have gone to St Mary’s, where the site itself may have been more appealing than the one almost in the country. The trustees of St Paul’s must have been disappointed with the slow progress in reaching the £3000 mark, with the momentum lost, and with the consequences that brought. There is no record of the take up in sittings by the time of the consecration, nor of what the trustees had themselves to contribute. They had guaranteed the cost of the builders, guaranteed the £800, and the cost of building the parsonage, as well as paying the £30 cost of becoming a trustee. Certainly there was nothing spare after the consecration as the collection for the communion plate will attest.

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