The Kingswood Chapel Trust                                                                                                                                                 Registered charity no: 1142860
The Kingswood Chapel Graveyard

The Kingswood Chapel Graveyard



Prepared by members of the Chapel

In the early 1660's to early 1700 Britain was a country in turmoil. Parliament wanted to keep the Protestant faith and Catholics were in line to the throne. Plots and conspiracies were rife.

There are tales of priests preaching to the workers from farm windows because they had no official license to preach. Birmingham and its' surroundings became very popular around 1665 when the Five Mile Act was passed, as it attracted many itinerant preachers to the area. Birmingham was exempt from the effects of the Act which forbade clergymen from living within 5 miles of a parish where they were banned.

Amidst all the turmoil several local people decided to look for a secluded place for a Chapel. A site, in Dark Lane, Hollywood, seemed ideal. A Meeting House was erected on Capp Field and the Chapel was opened in 1709. The 119 year old Lease for the land was handed over by one Josiah Bassett to the 17 Trustees appointed to look after the Chapel affairs on the 19 May 1708 - the rent was one peppercorn.

In August, 1715 the Kingswood Meeting House was slightly damaged in the Tory Riots and it is believed the main protagonist Dollax was caught trying to damage the site. He went to trial in Worcester and Dollox was one of six others who were the first to be executed under The Riot Act 1715. The Chapel then became known as Dollox Chapel for a short while.

In 1723 Susannah Collins bequeathed 50 pounds, a substantial sum in those days, as an Endowment to the Chapel and the interest was to be paid to the Minister.

In 1768 a house known as The Porters' was bequeathed to William Ryland who conveyed it to the Trustees of the Chapel for a Parsonage. This was 200 yards west of the Chapel on the opposite side of Dark Lane. The cottage was used to house six scholars who attended the Kingswood School.

In 1791 it is said that the Reverend Priestley and some friends were celebrating the second anniversary of the raiding of the Bastille. There were three days of rioting in and around Birmingham and a successful attempt was made to burn down Kingswood Chapel and the Parsonage in Dark Lane.

As the Lease on Dark Lane was short, it was decided to rebuild the Chapel in Packhorse Lane as land had been bought there in 1776 for 21 pounds 5 shillings and 4 pence. So whilst Priestley fled to America the Chapel was rebuilt at Packhorse Lane in 1793.

In 1798 when Nelson defeated Napoleon in the Battle of the Nile, collections were made around the country to help Widows and Children of the Fallen. It is recorded that Kingswood made a significant donation of 5 pounds.

In 1859 The Chapel was officially licensed to carry out marriages and in 1860 a recess for the organ at the front of the Chapel was built.

In 1869 There were 109 scholars and 17 teachers in the Sunday School and 60 scholars in the Day School. Two Kingswood scholars became Mayors of Birmingham, namely Thomas Weston (1843) and James Baldwin (1853).

The day school was transferred to the Kings Norton School Board in 1875, the Board paying rent until 1882, when the school was transferred to the Board School in Silver Street, Drakes Cross.

In 1890 a new schoolroom was built at Kingswood and The Rev J H Matthews was appointed to carry out marriages in 1899.

Refurbishments of the Chapel were paid for in 1944 when Miss Dorothy Lloyd paid for choir stalls, a Communion rail and updated the Chancel - all in memory of her family.


The following references to the Chapel can be found in various historical documents.

Source: Appendix to "Wythall and St Mary's Church" by the Rev. C.F.SHARPE - June 1972

The original Kingswood Meeting House is said to have been built in 1708 in Dark Lane. It was damaged in 1715 during the Tory Riots and earned the nickname "St.Dollax" from one of the rioters who was injured there.

Hutton's Narrative of the Riots relates further that Dollax was in fact the first person to suffer execution after the passing of the Riot Act.

Kingswood Meeting was subsequently totally destroyed in the Priestley Riots of 1791 being attacked on the morning of Sunday the 17th July by a mob who "proceeded to pull down and burn the Meeting House and in a short time reduced it to ashes." As a result of the riots, two men received the death sentence at the Spring Assizes held at Warwick in the following year."

Source: Old and New Birmingham by Robert K.Dent

"Among grants of compensation made to sufferers of the riots was one to St.Dollax for one hundred and thirty nine pounds and the Kingswood Meeting was rebuilt later in 1792 on a new site in Packhorse Lane.

The present building is a Victorian reconstruction of the 1792 building but much of the old work remains.

Four external facing bricks of 1792 on the south-east corner of the church bear names of members of the Greves family, who at that time, occupied Kilcupps Mill a mile or so to the south."

Source: An Inventory of Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting Houses in Central England Published by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. (HMSO 1986).

"KINGSWOOD MEETING-HOUSE, Hollywood (SP 078770)"

"The Presbyterian (latterly Unitarian) Meeting-House, built c.1707 and damaged in the Sacheverell riots of 1715, was entirely destroyed in the Birmingham riots of 1791 and replaced by the present building opened October 1793. The nickname "Dollax Chapel", also applied to the building, derives from the name of one of the 1715 rioters who was executed for his part in the affair. The Meeting House (32ft by 29ft) has brick walls and a slated roof. It was refenestrated and largely refitted c.1860-74 when a two-storied South porch and a North Chancel were added and the roof renewed. The gabled South front has two brick platbands and a pair of doorways inside the porch."