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Chapel Lane 

Great Barr 

Birmingham 

West Midlands 

B43 7BA 

 

Tel: 0121 357 1390

Our History

The earliest reference to a ‘Chapel’ at Great Barr is from around 1250 AD but there are strong grounds to think that a building may have been on the present site since the 1100s.  Then it was a Chapel-of-Ease to the local Manor House and was part of the overall Parish of Aldridge.  The Manor of Great Barr actually dates back into Saxon times and it is possible that there might have been an early preaching Cross at Barr for in the medieval records there is reference to a ‘Richard ad Crucem’ (Richard at the Cross) who lived at Great Barr.  Such a cross might date back to Anglo-Saxon times when the humble Chad and his followers made Lichfield their centre in 669 AD and set out from there on many preaching tours.

People from Great Barr would most likely have visited Lichfield, especially after Chad’s death, when his tomb had become a place of pilgrimage.  Bede described how ‘his sepulchre is covered with a wooden monument made like a small dwelling house, having an opening in the wall, through which those who come there for the sake of devotion are wont to put their hand and take thence some of the dust, which when they have put it in water and given it to sick beasts of burden or men to drink, the grievance of this infirmity being presently removed, they return to the joys of desired health’.

Nearly 1,400 years later we are still here, Christians at worship and inviting each and all to  

         ‘Come follow Christ in the footsteps of St Chad’.


Our Vicar is also a Prebendary – why?

Preb Rutter in Gaia Minor Seat

Today this is mainly an honorary appointment to mark service to the Diocese and has the Cathedral as its focus as ‘mother church to the Diocese.  Cathedral titles vary and some have ‘Prebendaries’ and other have ‘Honorary Canons’.

The Rev. Martin Rutter was appointed as a Prebendary of Lichfield Cathedral on St. Chad’s Day, 2nd March 2016   “to mark all your faithful service in the parishes and diocese”, as the Bishop of Wolverhampton read in the citation.

Martin has been appointed to the stall of Gaia Minor.  Gaia was a hamlet in the Parish of St. Chad in Lichfield.  There is still a Gaia Lane just to the north of the cathedral.  In 1140 the prebend was split to provide two seats – Gaia Major and Minor.

Gaia Minor Seat

 

What is a Prebendary?

In the early days of the Church a Bishop would oversee a wide area with many congregations.  However, he would have a base, a church that contained his chair or ‘cathedra’.  It is from this that our cathedrals derive their name and origin.

St. Chad was sent to the Midlands in 669 AD as Bishop to the Mercians and set up his base at Lichfield, which then became the centre of the Diocese of Mercia.  Chad died in 672 AD but his work went on and the Cathedral grew.

Many Cathedrals were also monasteries and the monks took care of the daily worship but 13 were not, including Lichfield.  So from the 9th century a number of Prebendaries were appointed to help lead the daily round of worship.  According to the changes at Lichfield under Roger de Clinton in 1129, the number became 30, each with his seat in the Choir Stalls.  These clergy had their own parish duties as well as the work at the Cathedral and so to pay the additional costs various parish put up a sum of money or ‘prebend’, hence the title.

Prebendaries today have no responsibilities for the areas their Prebendal Seats once represent.

They continue to hold their existing roles in addition to their new Cathedral responsibilities.

Today there is no extra income but the honour of the Seat remains.  Each Prebendary is a member of the Greater Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral and is summoned by The Queen to vote for a new Diocesan Bishop whenever there is a vacancy.  In addition they have a say in the governance of the cathedral and are invited by the Dean and Chapter to take a share in the cathedral’s ministry and mission, including preaching and leading worship and taking part in important services.