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  historical photographs  
Top: Fairfield Chapel, 1835
Middle: Recasting the bells, 1923
Bottom: The present Church, 2003
 
historical photographs
Top: the Vicarage, 1915
Middle: The Church Hall, 1932
Bottom: The Churchyard in winter, 2005
 
Photographs and material on this page are copyright 2011 David Owen.
Reproduced by kind permission

William de Gretton was instrumental in building the first Chapel in Fairfield which was founded in 1260 by the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield. Up until this time Fairfield was in the ancient Parish of Hope. The relevant legal documentation is still in existence today in the British Museum. It explains that the “village of Fairfield is so distant from its Parish Church of Hope, in winter time when the rain, snow and other bad weather abound in those parts that they cannot attend Church without peril of their bodies".

In 1595 Thomas Dakin of Bailey Flatt, Green Fairfield and others petitioned Queen Elizabeth I for the provision of a minister to the Chapelry and for assistance with the church building which was in a poor state of repair. The Fairfield people made out a case in support and requested that an Almshouse be built for six poor men who lived in Fairfield. The resulting grant stated that there was to be one perpetual Chapelry in Fairfield and that it should be named the Perpetual Chapel of Fairfield and that "in future and forever there may be and shall be six discreet and honest men of Fairfield who shall be Governors of the Chapel and Almshouses". This established the Governors who are still involved with the appointment of incumbents today. In 1650, the Parliamentary Commissioners proposed, “that Fayrefield parochial chapelry of Hope, is fit to be made a parish church, and “the following hamlets also being members of Hope, shall be included; Pigtor, Cowlow, Baylie Flatt and Lowfoot".

By 1815 there was a petition to build a new church. In 1837 Fairfield was made a separate parish from Hope, having full parochial rights from 1852.Little happened until 1838 when the Reverend George Mounsey, Curate of Fairfield who was also Schoolmaster of the Fairfield Free School along with Joseph William Swann, Schoolmaster, led an appeal for the total rebuilding of the church and within ten months demolition began. Fairfield Church retains its own Vicar, a Vicarage and its own ecclesiastical identity, ministering to a population of over 9,500

Led by the remarkable personality of Joseph William Swann, the present church was built in 1839. Previously the village blacksmith - a position he had given up due to ill health - Swann designed the church and was the driving force behind the project.The scheme to add transepts, a chancel, organ chamber, new vestry and south door porch was launched in the 1880s at an estimated cost of 3,000. In 1893 a new organ was installed and the porch was built in 1897. On November 12th 1901 the foundation for the enlargements was laid, and on All Saints Day 1902 the extension was consecrated. It was at this time that a painting of a cherub was found hidden in the enclosed parts of the ceiling. This may have been part of a mediaeval Madonna scene and was probably concealed during the persecution under Queen Mary 1553-1558. It is on display in the church today. Many new internal fittings were provided at this time.

In 1959 serious defects, including dry rot and woodworm, were found in the south transept and the roof trusses. These had to be replaced and the new beams were carved with the date 1959 in gold. Scaffolding was in place for most of that year and 1960.

In 1978 the staircase to the belfry and balcony was altered and the ‘Chapel of the Holy Spirit’ was established in the North Transept. A number of pews were removed to provide a play area at the back of church and the font was moved from under the gallery to its present position. The font was sited in the original chapel and dates back to the 13th century.One of the largest recent projects was the restoration of the century-old organ in 1994 at a cost of 25,000.

Other recent improvements include the provision of a new choir vestry in the south transept, a lavatory in the lower tower, and a kitchen. In 2000 the millennium window was installed and in 2002/3 30,000 was raised to effect repairs to the tower roof, and the electrical wiring.

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