St Edmund's Church
Dudley’s ‘Bottom Church’ is dedicated to the Anglo-Saxon martyr King Edmund of East Anglia, killed by invading Danes in AD870. Legend has it he was tied to a tree and shot full of arrows. The early dedication and the fact that St Edmund’s was the parish church suggests this area was Anglo-Saxon Dudley’s focal point.
The earlier church on the site was demolished during the Civil War when Colonel Leveson at the castle ordered that the church be destroyed so that the enemy could not use it to protect themselves. The present church rose from the ruins in 1724. It was built by Moses Hinron and paid for by two brothers, Richard and George Bradley. The tower roof structure is built from trees felled in 1723. The architect is thought to be Thomas Archer who also designed what is now St Philip’s Cathedral in Birmingham. It is now a Grade II* listed building and remains central to the spiritual life of the town.
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The church was built using funds provided by George and Richard Bradley with the hope that, as George’s memorial relates, “one sinner by its means might be converted from the error of his ways”.
Lieutenant Colonel John Beaumont, second in command to Colonel Thomas Leveson who held the castle for the King, suffered two personal tragedies during the Civil War. The first was the death of his infant daughter Frances in 1644, recorded by the grave slab in the vestry and in the church register: “Mr John Beaumont had a daughter borne and buryed on the 13th day”. The second tragedy was during the 1646 siege of the castle, with the death of his wife. Since St Edmund’s had been demolished, Dorothea Beaumont had to be buried at St Thomas’s and a temporary cease fire was called to allow this to happen.