Church Recording News

This newsletter focuses on the work of the Church Recorders, a joint group drawn from volunteer members of The Arts Society Wrekin and The Arts Society Wolverhampton. Their purpose is to record the wealth of history, heritage and artifacts within churches in our local area, and to produce written descriptions, photographs and drawings as part of a national Arts Society programme. We are lucky to have in Julia Pursehouse, a Church Recording lead in TASW who is passionate about this subject. Julia would love to welcome some new volunteers on her team.

If this is something that you might be interested in - or even if you would like to find out more before making a commitment - then Julia can be contacted either by email ( or by having an informal chat at one of our lecture meetings, there is also more information on our website.

What's it like being a volunteer Church Recorder?

Helen Franklin shares her experience........

It was about nine years ago, and I had recently joined the Arts Society Wrekin, when I heard they were asking for volunteers to join the Church Recording Group. I had always enjoyed looking around old churches and gravestones when we were on holidays, so I thought I might give it a go.

I had absolutely no knowledge of church interiors, and knew none of the church recorders but I just went along to one of their mornings at Badger Church. The group were very friendly and welcoming, all seemed to know each other well, and to be honest, I was even one of the younger ones there! I do remember sitting on the bench outside in the sunshine, whilst one of the senior ladies produced a picnic basket with tea and coffee and biscuits, whilst we watched the ducks swimming on the lake adjacent to Badger church. I thought this might be a good way to spend a morning.

I was asked to work with the other slightly younger lady - with brightly dyed hair, and a wicked sense of humour- we were "doing Windows "! It was fun. Neither of us knew much but with "Inside Churches" book- the bible for Church Recorders, and plenty of help for the others, we managed. What a sense of achievement- and wow it's addictive- the more you learn, the more interested you become.

Now I am not one the youngest, I still don't know as much as I should, but I still enjoy the challenge of describing an item. We are a very friendly team, plenty of drinks and biscuits, sometimes home made cake, lots of chat and comparing notes. Our leader Julia, is outstanding, a very able lady, always encouraging, and never belittles our less than perfect efforts, but quietly inspiring and we all know that when the Record is completed, with Julia's help, it will be outstanding.

If you have an interest in old churches and local history, come along and give it a go. Believe me it is fun!

Julia Pursehouse tells us about presenting the Worfield Church Record

Members of The Arts Society Wrekin and The Arts Society Wolverhampton together constitute a joint Church Recording Group. They make records of the contents and some of the fabric of local churches, producing written descriptions, photographs and drawings. Recorded items include memorials, metalwork, stonework, woodwork, textiles, pictures and framed documents, library material, windows and miscellaneous items such as organs and bells. This is part of a national Arts Society programme which has the aim of recognising, promoting and preserving the rich artistic heritage to be found in our churches.

Once completed the material is compiled into a book and illustrated with photographs.

Copies of these completed records are presented to the Incumbent of thechurch concerned, The Diocesan Record Office and The Church House Library (for Anglicans), The V&A Arts Library and The National Memorials Record Centre.

The result of all the volunteers' hard work is the final bound church record. The Church Record of St. Peter’s Church, Worfield, was presented to the Vicar, Rev. Jeannetta Stokes, on July 27th 2018 (see photograph above). It was presented during the regular ‘café church’ service, whose congregation was increased by the presence of several committee members including our Chair, David Franklin. This is a relatively informal service, held in the Madeley room at the west end of the church.

The Record contains 477 pages, and weighs 8.5 lbs (almost 4 kilos), and represents two years’ work by the joint Wolverhampton and Wrekin Church Recording Group. The Record was presented by the group’s leader, Julia Pursehouse. The group’s traditional gift to the church - a kneeler, designed by Anne Hartill, stitched by some of its members and made up by Kathie Watson - was presented to the Churchwarden by Kathie. St. Peter’s turned out to be a most interesting church with rather a lot of particularly spectacular memorials, where we were made most welcome.

The group is currently embarked on recording All Saints’ Church, Claverley, famed for its wall paintings.

The start of a new project is an excellent time to join the team so if you are tempted, please find out some more. You will be made very welcome.

Follow Julia's regular accounts of the group's activities here for an insight into the work they do - you might even be tempted to join them


Wednesday 13th November


Bitterly cold, even my (recycled) cashmere fingerless gloves not warm enough for Jean!

The checking has begun - Jean on Metalwork, Keith on Memorials and Lin on Paintings etc..  This stage involves checking what we wrote against the objects themselves, which is why they actually had to be in the church.
David did some quick checking on records held in the church and is now wrestling with producing a description of his last window (the insanely large and complicated East window representation of the 'Te Deum' (
"A Latin Christian hymn composed in the 4th century. It is one of the core hymns of the Ambrosian hymnal, which spread throughout the Latin Church with the Milanese Rite in the 6th to 8th centuries, and is sometimes known as "the Ambrosian Hymn", even though authorship by Saint Ambrose is unlikely."  Apparently.))
Paul was scrutinising the fonts.
I was locating information about items from my only slightly disorganised collection of archival sources.  This did include the wording of the 'Te Deum'.


Wednesday 20th November

There is still object checking to do.
Next comes extracting names, with the reference number of the associated object, for the name index in the Introduction, and the number referenced list of items given in memoriam, also for the Introduction.
Happily the latter can be done in the warm.

I have to type up information from sources and remember the 'how to record a pipe organ' form.

I shall be at The Crown for 10.30.  Garry has trusted me with a key, now on a hopefully high-viz Thomas the Tank Engine key ring...  This means that we can access all the areas we need to get at without harassing him.  Thank you Garry.








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