Stonnall people and places
John Mellor Remembered
by Julian Ward-Davies BA Hons
The New Chapel of Ease in Stonnall
William Tennant Esq.
Thus, in the early 1820s, William Tennant donated the 1 acre of land that would accommodate the new St Peter's Chapel of Ease in Stonnall and £100 towards the cost of its construction. Sir Robert Peel of Tamhorn would contribute a further £80. Among the many others who gave smaller amounts, John Mellor contributed £5. Subscriptions towards the cost of the new chapel commenced in November 1821 and a total of £623/19s/0d (£623.95) was gathered by this means.
St Peter's Chapel of Ease, Stonnall, shortly after its construction.
After the building contract was awarded to Mr Yeomans of Fazeley under the auspices of the lawyers, Hinckley's of Lichfield, Mr Mellor acted as overseer for the construction phase and the new chapel was completed and consecrated by 1823.
The first two chapel wardens were William Tennant and Samuel Clarke Adcock. By 1826, John Mellor had replaced Mr Tennant who, by that time, had probably moved back to London, his place of origin.
The National School
The National School, Stonnall, from a drawing by Alan Heywood.
John Mellor appended his name to this contract as a witness. The school and house would be constructed eventually out of materials recovered from the demolition of the nearby Thornes Hall.
The Tithe Map of the Parish of Shenstone
In parallel with this task, a fair apportionment of rents needed to be devised in order to replace the ancient tithe system that had existed since Anglo-Saxon times. In the Parish of Shenstone, this work was entrusted to John Mellor and it is his handwriting that we see in the resulting document, the Book of Awards.
These two documents, the map and the book, provide us with a snapshot of the Parish of Shenstone as it emerged from the late mediæval period into the age of the Industrial Revolution. For this reason they are of monumental historical importance, providing us with invaluable data relating to land usage and the names of families, fields, roads and places.
A New Parish and New Parish Churches
Rev James Downes BA, the first Vicar of Stonnall..
to augment it with the annual rent from a local field, provided that two sermons were preached in Stonnall every Sunday - a condition with which the new vicar happily and, no doubt, gratefully complied.
With a neighbouring new church and new parish, the parishioners of Shenstone were not to be outdone and their new place of worship was completed by 1853, replacing their mediæval and tumbledown parish church.
The old parish church of St John's, Shenstone.
Having become a churchwarden in Shenstone, there can be no doubt that John Mellor took a keen interest in this project and his name is commemorated on one of the foundation stones of St John's Church.
For many years John Mellor lived in a cottage on the corner of Forge Lane and Walsall Road, Little Aston. He died in 1870 aged 84 and is buried on the south side of the church in Stonnall.
© Julian Ward-Davies 2014
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