ShrewsburySt Chad’s Church
St Chad's Terrace
Shropshire SY1 1JX
 
 
 
St Chad’s Church is a well-known landmark in the Shropshire county town of Shrewsbury and well worth visiting. This unusual Georgian church is round with a high tower, and has a beautiful galleried interior supported on slender cast-iron pillars. Its location facing Quarry Park and the Dingle affords superb views down the slope to the River Severn.
 
The church is dedicated to the 7th century St Chad, the first Bishop of Mercia and is the parish church for the centre of the town of Shrewsbury, along with its sister church, St Alkmunds.
 
Apart from its beautiful architecture, the church has a number of connections with famous Shrewsbury identities and events such as Charles Darwin, Thomas Telford and the 1984 filming of A Christmas Carol.
 
It is also the civic church of Shrewsbury and therefore holds special services such as Mayor Making, and annual Remembrance and Battle of Britain memorial services. The vicar of St Chad’s is also the chaplain to Shrewsbury Town Council.
 
Opening Times
The only days that the church is closed are 25 December (open for services only) and 26 December. Other Public Holidays the church is usually open from approximately 11:00.
 
Monday to Saturday: 08:00 – 16:00 (17:00 Wednesdays)
Sunday: Open between services.
 
Services
Services are led by a robed choir and visitors are welcome to attend. Services are held on Sundays at 08:00, 10:00 and 18:00.
 
Please be aware that the church is frequently used for services, meetings, concerts, and other public events. Whilst many of these often do not preclude visiting, they may affect your visit. To avoid disappointment, please telephone before your trip.
 
Disabled Access
The main body of the church and the churchyard are accessible to wheelchairs. The organ loft and balcony of the church are NOT but there is a stair lift to gain access to the upstairs Meeting Room.
 
An induction loop operates during services and large print service booklets are available.
 
A guide to the church is also available in large print or in braille.
 
History
Old St Chad’s
Since the 13th century there has been a church in Shrewsbury dedicated to St Chad, By 1788 the large but ageing building had fallen into disrepair, and cracks had appeared in the tower. Architect and aspiring engineer, Thomas Telford warned that the church was in imminent danger of collapse; his reputation was made locally when the parishioners awoke 3 days later. to find they had a pile of rubble but no church.
 
Current St Chad’s
The Design
After much argument a new site was found on the derelict town wall, and the Gaelic-speaking Highland-Scots architect George Steuart was commissioned to build a new church.
 
He submitted various designs including one for a modern circular church. The Parochial Church Council preferred a rectangular design and rejected the circular one. However, “...due to a misunderstanding” Steuart actually completed the rejected circular plan. Time was short, so it became the final design. Stones from old St Chad’s were used as foundations and the foundation stone was laid on St Chad’s Day, 2nd March 1790.
 
The church is built of local Grinshill white sandstone, and was opened in 1792 on the 19th of August.
 
St Chad’s design differs from typical Georgian buildings. It mixes Ionic, Doric and Corinthian styles in its facade and interior. The entrance hall, with a sweeping double staircase to the gallery, is more like a country house than a church, as is the decoration on the ceiling of the nave. The delicate banisters and the slender pillars supporting the gallery are early products of the Industrial Revolution that was beginning in Shropshire.
 
Interior
The entrance hall has many wall tablet memorials relating to campaigns of the 53rd Regiment of Foot, and its successor regiment the King's Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI).
 
The KSLI Regimental Chapel
On the right hand side, St Aidan’s Chapel has been converted into a memorial chapel for the local Kings’ Shropshire Light Infantry Regiment. This conversion has resulted in an enlarged apse, new altar, rood screen, rails and chairs. Here, in separate cases, can be found the books of remembrance of the KSLI war dead from both World Wars. In 1952 and 1966 the Regimental colours were also laid up in the chapel.
 
The circular nave is unique, with pews arranged like a maze. Originally the church had an intrusive three-decker pulpit which was replaced by an Arts & Crafts style pulpit in brass and copper which gives an unobstructed view of the Sanctuary.
 
The Sanctuary is bordered by Corinthian pilasters and columns and contains a splendid reredos fitted after World War I. The new reredos, altar and wainscot were fitted as a memorial to the parish fallen of the war. The light oak reredos was repainted in gold leaf and cobalt in 1951.
 
Other treasures in the Sanctuary are two Robert Thompson “Mouseman” stools. Look for the beautifully carved mice confirming their authenticity.
 
The Font
In 1809 Charles Darwin was baptised at St Chad’s in a silver christening bowl. At that time there was no font but the bowl was replaced with the current oval font in 1843. Despite being baptised an Anglican, Charles and his mother, Susannah attended the Unitarian Chapel in Shrewsbury.
 
Stained Glass
Most of St Chad’s windows are of painted and enamelled glass by the renowned Shrewsbury firm of Betton and Evans. The Sanctuary window is a copy of a triptych by Rubens in Antwerp Cathedral; it was made in the 1840s by David Evans, a local stained glass artist.
 
Bentons had begun making facsimiles of medieval glass in enamels and crude pot-metal during the 1820s and had been reasonably successful. In the mid 19th century stained glazing techniques changed from using leadwork to create neat rectangular or square panes to leadwork that followed the outlines of the figures and features of the painted scene. Benton’s partner David Evans was one of the few artists whose work pioneered this development.
 
He was not very good at drawing figures so he chose to copy established masterpieces. His themes for new windows stayed quite painterly, with designs adapted from favourite original Renaissance paintings by Raphael and Rubens, but often with medieval borders and frames. He used strong vibrant colours that glowed and was particularly fond of ruby red, emerald green, midnight blue and an amethyst purple.
 
Windows by David Evans are important because they illustrate the transition from the painterly to Gothic Revival, and those in St Chad’s repay careful study.
 
Music
Music is a strong tradition at St Chad's. The church organ is a large three-manual pipe organ, built by Norman and Beard. It is regularly restored, most recently in 2011. The church hosts lunchtime organ recitals and other concerts which are very popular. For more information go to  Web: St Chad's Church/ concerts  
 
Facilities
There is a permanent gentle ramp from the church car park. There is an accessible toilet on the left as you enter the church outer vestibule. A wheelchair is available for use whilst in St.Chad’s. Please contact the church if you wish to book the loan of this for a particular occasion.
 
The Churchyard
Although no longer available for current burials, the churchyard contain some very interesting graves.
 
- Charles Bage
In designing the first ever iron framed building at the end of the 18th century, Charles Bage can be considered the inventor of the modern skyscraper. The technology he developed to build the Ditherington Flax Mill in Shrewsbury makes him a pioneer of what would become modern sky scraper know-how.
 
‘Ebenezer Scrooge’ Headstone
In 1984 Shrewsbury became a film location. Exterior scenes for Dickens’ A Christmas Carol were shot in the town’s medieval streets and St Chad’s churchyard.
 
The fake gravestone for Ebenezer Scrooge created for the film can still be seen in the disused graveyard. According to the Shrewsbury Town Crier, Martin Wood, the headstone is not a fake but an actual period headstone, on which the original inscription had deteriorated to the point that the movie production people asked the church if they could use it and inscribe the "Ebenezer Scrooge" words on it. You can still see some of the original inscription on the bottom part of the stone.
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)1743 365478
Mail   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Getting There
- By Car
Parking
Visitors are welcome to park in St Chad’s car park on a first-come, first-served basis, for which there is a commercial charge.
 
Pay & Display parking bays are available in the road outside the church and Disabled Badge holders may be able to park there without charge, subject to the terms of their permit.
 
Google Map - St Chad's Church