In the late 1850s George POOLE (see also) began holding Sunday evening services in a carpenter's shop in due time what was to become Chasetown. Services hadn’t been given there long, before they were transferred to the Cannock Chase Colliery School.
St Anne's Church, Chasetown was built by 1865, to the east of the colliery school, and on the south side of Church Street. It was built under the instruction of John ROBINSON, a Director of the Cannock Chase Colliery Co. who wanted a local church for the benefit of his miners.
The church was designed by Edward ADAMS of Westminster. He was an industrial architect who devoted most of his time to designing railway stations, rather than churches, and the symmetrical design reflects the style of the Romanesque Revival. It was built from polychrome brick with a slate roof. The church consists of an apsidal chancel and an aisled nave of four bays, and there is a bell in a cote over the west end. The interior of the apse has marble panels. The chancel is laid with Minton tiles, while the sanctuary is of stone inlaid with alabaster.
The church was endowed by John Robinson McCLEAN, who was the managing director of the Cannock Chase Colliery Co. The church was designed to seat 750 people, which included “free” pews from the start.
St Anne’s Church was consecrated in 1865.
In 1867, the parish of Chasetown was formed out of parts of Burntwood, Hammerwich, and Ogley Hay. The credit for devising the name is variously given to George POOLE, vicar of Burntwood and Elijah WILLIS, (see also) headmaster at Chasetown School.
John Robinson McCLEAN’s nephew, D. S. McCLEAN was the incumbent. He was the first Minister.
A vicarage was built in 1868.
In 1871, John Montague SEATON (M. A.) (see also) was appointed to succeed D. S. McCLEAN, and the seating continued to be free.
In 1873 when John Robinson McCLEAN died, the patronage of the church passed to his son Frank McCLEAN, and in 1888, to the vicar of Burntwood.
In 1876, Anna McCLEAN, John Robinson McCLEAN’s widow, gave £1,000 to provide an income for keeping the church in repair.
In 1883, St Anne’s Church became the first church in England to be supplied with electricity. The church’s connection with the local colliery led to an electricity cable being laid between Cannock Chase Colliery No 2 Pit. A piece of the original cable still exists, and this can be seen on display in the History Corner of the church.
The patronage was transferred in 1888, and a house was provided for the incumbent by the colliery company.
In 1897, the original burial ground on the north side of Church Street, which was originally ¾ acre, was extended by ½ an acre.
In 1910 land on the eastside of High Street, was provided for the site of a new vicarage. Building work began in 1911.
On the conclusion of the First World War, it was decide to commemorate those servicemen who had left the local pits, fought and lost their lives in the war. Four memorial plaques were made and dedicated to those miners from No. 2 Pit, No. 3 Pit, No. 8 Pit and No. 9 Pit. The plaques were originally located at No. 2 Pit in Church Street, Chasetown. When No. 2 Pit closed down, it was demolished, but the plaques were removed and saved. They were transferred to and added to the exterior wall of the church.
In 1928, the burial ground was again extended by another ½ acre.
In 1938 it is claimed that the church was the first to have been fitted with a bell rung electrically.
In 1947, a bust of John Robinson McCLEAN was installed, the cost being met by his descendants.
In 1960, a Lady Chapel was formed.
In the 1980’s, alterations in the church took place. The work included constructing four meeting rooms, a kitchen and toilet facilities. The alterations inside the church still reflects ADAMS’ symmetrical theme through the stained glass windows and other internal decorations such as the chancel which has an alabaster frieze with a geometrical design. The additional rooms within the church took up space, and so the seating was changed and seats were removed. Seating for 550 people was removed, thus only leaving seating sufficient for 200 people.
In 1985, the west end was reordered; the end bays of the aisles were formed into rooms on two levels, and a stairway was inserted.
Ron BRADBURY of the Chase Heritage Group recalls in 2011:- The Vicar of St Anne’s Church, Chasetown, used to reside in one of the large houses beneath the Chasetown end of Norton Pool Dam. The shell of one of them still remains today. The Rev SEATON, seen below in 1890 decided that the walk to Saint Anne’s Church was too far, and had a new Vicarage built up the top end of the High Street. This is now known as the Old Vicarage, as a later one was built next door years later, and is now a Care Home.
There must have been other reasons why the Vicar moved as his new dwelling is at least four to five times further from the church than the place he left. At least when he walked to the church down the High Street, he must have met many parishioners on his journey, unlike the lonely path from the dam, and across the mineral line that he trod before. In his day, however, there was a sizeable gap in the housing between the farm next door (Now Chasetown Recreational Club) and Sankey’s Corner, so Chasetown and Chase Terrace were two distinctively separate villages. The photo’ of the church below is a lovely one as it shows the ornate lantern that once arched over its entrance. The lamp would have been, presumably, one lit by electricity generated at the No. 2 Pit a few hundred yards up the street. Note the Vicar talking to the white haired and bearded man. The first houses in Chasetown were the cottages near the Uxbridge Public House, and these, thankfully, remain to this date largely unchanged on the roadside frontages. In the photo' below, the chimney at the colliery can be seen with the inevitable smoke coming out of its stack. These would be a familiar sight to those who lived in the Chase Coalfield area.