St Agatha's Church, Sparkbrook
The Church of St Agatha
() is a parish church
in the Church of England
It was designed by W. H. Bidlake
and is now a Grade I listed building
Made of brick and decorated with stone, building started in October 1899. It was funded by the sale of the site of Christ Church
, New Street
which was demolished the same year to make way for shops and offices - Christchurch Buildings. That site later became Victoria Square
after Christchurch Buildings were demolished in 1970. St Agatha was consecrated in 1901 by the Bishop of Worcester
) as Birmingham was in the diocese of Worcester
until 1905 at which time Gore was made the first Bishop of Birmingham
. A parish was assigned to the church in 1902 from Christ Church, Sparkbrook
, and St Paul's Church, Balsall Heath
. The font and only bell came from Christ Church, along with its foundation stone dated 1805. In 1959, the church hall received a licence for public worship.
The building has had an eventful history; the sanctuary end was completely destroyed by a German bomb in 1940 and the entire roof was lost in a fire in 1957. From 1940 to 1960 parts of the building were bricked off and the sense of lightness that the interior now has was temporarily lost.
The church was slightly damaged by the Birmingham Tornado
on 28 July 2005. However the adjoining Ladypool Primary School
was extensively damaged and lost its distinctive Martin & Chamberlain
Major restoration work took place from 2002–2005, mostly funded by the National Heritage Lottery Board. This included the stabilisation of the tower. The restoration work was designed by Apec Architects. The restored church was officially reopened in January 2005 by Prince Edward
and the Countess of Wessex.
File:Design for St Agatha Sparkbrook Birmingham - W H Bidlake.jpg
File:St Agatha's Church 1.jpg
File:St Agatha's Church 2.jpg
File:St Agatha's Church 3.jpg
Vicars and priests-in-charge
St Agatha's as a church
From its beginning St Agatha's was strongly part of the Anglo-Catholic
movement. Although situated in the Diocese of Birmingham the church is under the oversight of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Provincial episcopal visitor
and is a part of Forward in Faith
. Until the 1950s there was a ring of similar churches around inner-city Birmingham - the so-called 'Biretta Belt'. Many of those churches have closed but St Agatha's itself remains open despite being in an almost entirely Muslim ward of the city. The church's priest is shared with St Barnabas' Church, Balsall Heath
The church is noted for its music - supplemented by a recently restored three-manual Nicholson organ -its liturgy and diverse congregation, and is well known beyond the parish and the city.
Celebrants have included the Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend David Hope
at the centenary Mass in May 2001.
The church hall is used by the Birmingham City Amateur Boxing Club, originally Ladywood Amateur Boxing Club, founded by Frank O'Sullivan.
SourcesAll About Victoria Square, Joe Holyoak, The Victorian Society Birmingham Group,
[http://www.saintagathas.org.uk/building.shtml St Agatha website]
[http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=22976&strquery=Sparkbrook#p31 British History Online: Churches built since 1800 - St Agatha, Sparkbrook], A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7, 1964.
Category:Churches completed in 1901
Category:20th-century Church of England church buildings
Category:William Bidlake buildings
Category:Grade I listed buildings in Birmingham