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 now embarked on recording All Saints’ Church, Claverley, famed for its wall paintings.

Right: An example of items you might help to research and record. 

This is a funerary hatchment showing the arms of Colonel Edward Gatacre, who died in 1849 which would have been painted on his death, then displayed on the outside of his residence, at second floor level, for between 40 days and a year, and finally removed to the parish church.

This example helps us to learn more about not only the history of a local family but also heraldry, funerary protocol, stained glass and more. We record a very wide-ranging selection of artifacts, that can include (to name but a few) not just memorials but metalwork, stonework, stained glass, textiles, pictures and framed documents.

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 March

Usual time - 10.00
Usual place - The Crown

Progress. Keith is currently revising the Memorial section.
John and Jean are getting into the Metalwork section.
Paul and Howard are doing brilliantly with the Woodwork section.
Caroline and Anne have almost finished the Textiles section. We do need some more work on the two special frontals.
Helen Lin and Helen are getting on well with the Pictures &c section.
David has done sterling work on the Library section. We have (probably) decided how to copy the 30 page index to Claverley Church records held at Shrewsbury R.O. We also have to visit Hereford R.O., which is a long day visit.
I have done some work on the Windows section.
No work has yet been done recording the Stonework and Miscellaneous sections, although information about various items has been collected from Shrewsbury R.O..

We also getting to grips with editing work on dropbox, thus avoiding the need to email to and fro. Thanks to huge efforts by members with non Windows laptops, who are translating my Windows gibberish into their Apple- and Google- speak.