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

The Music Festival

St Mary’s chapel was consecrated on August 24th 1774, but the chapel had not been completed and there was still work to be done and money to be raised. What better way than to hold a Music Festival in September on the pattern of that held in 1768 to raise funds for the General Hospital? The advertising in the weeks before the festival was quite extensive, appearing in the Birmingham and Oxford newspapers every week and also in the St James’s paper, the London Evening Post, and Lloyd’s Chronicle. It was advertised as raising funds for the completion of St Mary’s chapel, and typically the festival started with Handel’s Grand Dettingen Te Deum, Jubilate and Coronation Anthem at St Philip’s in the morning of the first day and Alexander’s Feast at the New Theatre in the evening. The next day it was Judas Maccabeus at St Philip’s followed by a Grand Concert at the Theatre in the evening, and on the third morning it was Messiah at St Philip’s. On two of the evenings there were Balls which were described in the Gazette as “uncommonly splendid, and were honoured with the presence of many persons of the first rank and distinction in this Kingdom”. The trustees decided that the profit from the Balls would go to the General Hospital and it is reported in the Gazette that the musical entertainments would produce about £800 to go to the completion of the chapel.

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