Tour of Lost Birmingham Nᵒ.59: St. Martin's Parsonage (Smallbrook Street)

St. Martin's Parsonage, from a drawing by David Cox and engraved by William Radcliffe, published 25 March 1827. Hand coloured later.

St. Martin's Parsonage was demolished in 1826. The image above was drawn in about 1825 or 1826 by David Cox, and the original drawing is held by Birmingham Museums (see here). The Parsonage housed a long line of the rectors of St. Martin's, and stood a little distance from the church, up Edgbaston Street and at the base of Smallbrook Street.

It was described in 1830, not long after its demolition, as an 'ancient, half-timbered edifice, coated with plaster' and that the 'entrance was through a wicket in the large doors of a long range of low building[s] next to the street'. The building had originally been encircled by a moat, as seen in snippets from the 1731 map of Birmingham below, but only dried-up parts of the moat remained when it was demolished despite the engraving including the moat filled with water.*1* An Act of Parliament was required for its demolition and acquired in 1825, which described the building as 'a most ancient and inconvenient building' which was 'very ill-suited for the residence of the rector'.*2* Parts of it were very ancient indeed.

Snippet from 1731 map showing St. Martin's church and parsonage.

Snippet from Bernard Sleigh's version of the 1731 map showing St. Martin's church and parsonage.

Close-up of the Parsonage from  Bernard Sleigh's version of the 1731 map.

The engraving was copied by Charlotte Brontë in about 1832.*3* Brontë never visited Birmingham.

Charlotte Brontë's copy of the 1827 engraving, c. 1832. Private collection.

*1* An Historical and Descriptive Sketch of Birmingham (1830), p. 108.
*2* Graphic illustrations of Warwickshire (1829), p. 116. 
*3* Christine Alexander, 'Charlotte Brontë, Her School Friends, and the Roe Head Album', in Brontë Studies, 29, pp. 1-16 (p. 4).
~ MS 1452/2/119/108-109 : LS 908* : L/F/05/31 Local & Private Acts/Vol. 6/17763 : MS 1280/16

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