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Showcase

This showcase features records from UC 2, material relating to the New Meeting House, Moor Street (1690 - 1861), subsequently the Church of the Messiah, Broad Street (1862 - 1973), subsequently the Unitarian New Meeting, Ryland Street (1973 onwards)

The Lower Meeting congregation had been in existence in Birmingham since the year 1692, following the passing of an Act of Toleration, 1689, which granted increased freedom of worship for Nonconformist congregations. The congregation is believed to have been served by one William Fincher, who had been licensed to preach in 1672. It was founded largely to accommodate the increasing number of Nonconformists who wished to worship in the Old Meeting House (for records of this church see UC 1), but could not due to its insufficient size. Another of its early Ministers, John Sillitoe, married a daughter of William Fincher.
The Lower Meeting's place of worship was apparently situated in a tan-yard in Deritend, which suffered some damage during the rioting of 1715. As the city expanded a new site on Moor Street further west was purchased by the Trustees in 1727 for £40, located on the northern side of a narrow lane which became known as New Meeting Street. The New Meeting House opened in April 1732. In 1764 the Trustees purchased three houses and land situated between the church building and Moor Street. These buildings were subsequently removed to create an open space in front of the chapel.
Dr Joseph Priestley joined the New Meeting congregation in 1780, preaching a sermon that year, 'On The Proper Constitution Of A Christian Church', which led to the establishment of a more formally organised Vestry Committee (see UC 2/3/3). He had previously been the minister of the Hospital Street Chapel at Nantwich, Cheshire, between 1758 and 1761. He became minister at the New Meeting House in Birmingham during the turbulent political backdrop of the late 1780s and early 1790s.

To see the catalogue for this collection, type in UC 2 under ‘RefNo’ in the advanced search option.

Subscriptions book


There is a printed seating plan attached to the back pages of the volume, showing the main floor and gallery of the Church of the Messiah, Birmingham, with seat numbers and some annotations in red ink regarding the value the seats of each row were worth.
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Fazeley Street Missionary's diary

The diary comprises an itinerary of the Missionary's visits to various houses in the neighbourhood of the church, and provides a powerful account of slum life in central Birmingham during the mid-nineteenth century and the feelings of those who worked with some of Birmingham's poorest families, the condition of some of the houses and some details about the nature of assistance that was granted.
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Sunday Schools scrapbook


The scrapbook begins with a frontispiece print of the New Meeting House, Birmingham. A handwritten note on the first page states that the scrap book was compiled by the undersigned Herbert New, Edgbaston, Birmingham (and signed off on 7 October 1923) 'for the use of the Officers & Committees of the above mentioned Schools'. The material includes hymn sheets for the benefit of the Sunday Schools dating back to 1791; Annual New Years Eve Service programmes; programmes on classes and social activities organised by the school; copies of printed articles from the press relating to religious instruction; notices regarding meetings of the Sunday School Committee; copies of sheet music and a revised printed catalogue of the Church of the Messiah Sunday School Library, dated 1894. At the back of the scrap book is an attached blank Sunday School certificate of merit awarded to pupils.
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Dr Priestley's letter to the younger Part of the congregations at the New Meeting

Printed letter detailing his response made to 'your very affectionate Address' on the part of that section of the congregation of the New Meeting House, Birmingham.
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A Schedule Inventory and appraisement of the value and amount of the Household Goods and Furniture, Plate, Linen and China, Pictures, Prints, and Drawings, wines & other Liquors , Cloaths and wearing apparell belonging to the Reverend Doctor Priestley


Slim notebook with coloured covers, labelled 'No. 281' on front cover. The inventory gives a room-by-room description listing the types of items described in the title, and whether the items were lost, damaged or undamaged, and the total cost of any damage or loss per room (deducting costs of material salvaged), with total amounts tabulated at the back of the volume. There are descriptions of the laboratory, library and even the servants' quarters, describing the clothing and other items owned by them. There is a small postcard at the back of the notebook with a typescript caption listing the title of the notebook in an abbreviated format.
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