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Church of SS Peter & Paul, Aston facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
St Peter & Paul, Aston juxta Birmingham
Aston church Birmingham.jpg
Building details
Record height
Tallest in Birmingham from 1838 to 1855
Preceded by Unknown, most likely a church
Surpassed by St Martin in the Bull Ring
General information
Estimated completion 1480
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Evangelical
Dedication St Peter & St Paul
Height 198 feet (60 m)
Parish Aston and Nechells
Diocese Birmingham
Province Canterbury
Vicar(s) Interregnum period

The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul in Witton Lane, Aston, Birmingham, England, is a parish church in the Church of England.


Background The origin of Aston and its parish church is uncertain. A 2013 archaeological excavation on the site of the original village suggests there was a British Roman settlement, ref [1]. The Doomsday Surveyor (1086) gave Aston (Estone) 5 times the value of nearby Birmingham. Aston Hall was constructed in 1618. The area was wealthy during the agricultural era. It was overtaken with Birmingham’s rising wealth from industrialisation. During the 19th century the area became residential and industrial. Generally the area prospered until the slum clearances in 1960s, the construction of the A38(M) and the collapse of British industry in the last quarter of the 20th century. Aston is now one of the most deprived areas in the UK.

The church is in the Aston Hall and Church Conservation Area and is located between the A38(M) and Villa Park, the home of Aston Villa football Club.


In the dark ages Aston was part of the Kingdom of Mercia and documentary evidence from this period is scarce. The church was probably planted in the 9th century. The original building would have been wooden and this was recorded in the Doomsday Survey. The Parish was huge. There were chapels of ease in Yardley, Water Orton and Castle Bromwich. It would have been impossible for these to be serviced by one priest and it is probable that Ss Peter & Paul was a minster church.

The first masonry structure was completed in 1120. It was the 2nd largest church in the West Midlands, the original Coventry cathedral was larger. There was a major reordering in 1480. The tower and spire remain from this church although the spire was renovated by John Cheshire (1776 – 77).

The Church was again reordered in 1879. The architect was JA Chatwin a Birmingham architect who specialised in both Neo-Gothic and Neo-Classical styles. In recent years the building has been subject to gentle change the most noticeable intervention was in 2008 when a masonry platform was constructed incorporating a unique cruciform immersion baptistry.

Notable Monuments

The church has many high quality monuments dating from 1360 to 2018. These include 3 chest tombs commemorating the Arden family who were ancestors of William Shakespeare. There is also a Shakespeare window.

Two tombs are associated with the Wars of the Roses. The William Harcourt memorial (died 1483) is wearing English Armour and said to be the best example in the country. Sir Thomas De Erdington d1449 is another fine memorial, Sir Thomas gave his name to the Erdington district of Birmingham.

There is a 19th century bust commemorating John Rogers MA. Born in Aston in 1500 he was burnt at the stake in 1555. His crime was that he was responsible for the Matthew Bible that is the first translation of the complete Bible from the original Greek into English. The King James is the best known edition of the Matthew Bible.

The most recent monument was installed in 2019 commemorating the lives of Charlene Ellis (18), and Letisha Shakespeare (17) who were killed in a drive by shooting in the early hours of January 2nd 2003. The community was outraged and led by the girls’ mothers there is an ongoing crusade against gun and knife crime. The mosaic monument was originally installed at St Georges School in Newtown and was moved to the church when the school closed. The community was involved in the construction of this outstanding monument.

The brass eagle lectern is a memorial to Joseph Ansell the founder of the Ansell Brewery who was churchwarden from 1867 to 1883. The memorial was manufactured by Jones and Willis a notable Aston firm specialising in church furnishings.

There are some outstanding windows from the Victorian era. The recently renovated Plevins window in the south aisle contains 4 episodes from the nativity story.


The church had a 3 manual pipe organ. The original pipe organ was mounted in the tower of the 1480 church. It was replaced by the present organ that is located to the north of the chancel. The manufacturer was Banfield in 1901. It was rebuilt by Nicholson in 1967 with electric bellows and additional stops ref [5].

List of organists

  • Thomas F Thomason c. 1912


The churchyard is closed to burials and maintenance is the responsibility of Birmingham City Council. It was partly cleared in the 1950s as a memorial to Rt Rev Henry McGowen a former vicar. Some parts are overgrown. Notable monuments are

31 Commonwealth war grave memorials

Alfred Wilcox VC (north of the church)

The Ansell family vault, (north east of the church)

Henry Johnson (1809 – 1890) (south of the church) was erected by the ‘Bell Ringers of England’ to commemorate his work creating the Central Council of Church Bellringers.

The Aston War Memorial dedicated as a peace memorial in 1921 a grade 2 listed structure south west of the church.

Aston Hall from the Walsall road near Birmingham - 1775 - Anon
As can be seen in this 1775 watercolour by an unknown artist (now part of the British Library's King George III Topographical Collection), Aston Hall and the church were originally situated in open countryside.

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