St Thomas' and
St Luke Church (Top Church)
The churches of St Thomas ('Top church’) and St Edmund ('Bottom church’) sit at either end of the medieval town of Dudley and were first mentioned in a document of 1182. The medieval building on the site was replaced by the present Gothic Revival church between 1816 and 1819.
Gervase Paganel, Lord of Dudley Castle, probably founded St Thomas’s in the middle of the 12th century for use by the burgesses and townsfolk of his ‘new town’. He also established Dudley Priory and provided income for the monks by giving them control of both the town’s churches.
Some of the medieval church survives today, deep below the present church’s east end where two small interlinked chambers (pictured right) are constructed of what is thought to be medieval masonry. The original medieval church was swept away early in the nineteenth century when it was felt to be too “small and inconvenient” for the area’s growing population. The old building was replaced with the present Gothic Revival church, designed by William Brooks and built by Daniel Evans in a “free” version of the 15th century perpendicular style.
The new church is remarkable in its extensive use of cast iron for details normally carved in stone, such as the window tracery, and for its roof structure where cast iron pillars and spans were used to augment the more usual wooden beams.
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