Top Church (St. Thomas and St. Luke’s Church) has been situated at its current site at the top of the hill for almost 850 years.
The church was originally constructed between 1175 and 1182 on the orders of the Baron of Dudley, Gervase De Paganel. The building was designed specifically to be a chapel to Thomas a’Beckett, the Archbishop of Canterbury assassinated in December 1170, allegedly on the orders of King Henry II. The dedication of the church to such an enemy of the King was an act of significant defiance. The church was rededicated to St Thomas the Apostle in 1540 on the orders of Henry VIII who disapproved of the symbolic defiance to the crown.
In 1815, led by Rev. Dr Luke Booker, the Vicar of Dudley, the original church building was demolished despite strong opposition. Construction of the new building concluded in 1818 and it is this new building that stands to this day.
In 1972, the nearby St Luke’s Church was unfortunately closed. On the basis that "two saints are better than one", the decision was made to re-dedicate St Thomas Church as St Thomas & St Luke’s Church. However, the local population of Dudley have for many decades always affectionately referred to the church as "Top Church", the church at the top of the hill, exactly as Gervase De Paganell intended all those centuries ago.
Fast forward to today, and we are working to conserve our precious building so that it can be enjoyed by many generations to come. We have secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) to undertake a number of assessments into the condition of the building and to identify how it can be conserved. We aim to submit a second application to the NLHF to secure funding to carry out much needed conservation work, as well as share the story of Top Church with the wider community. Watch this space for updates.