St Leonard's Church
St Leonard's is a beautiful 15th century church with a community hall and picturesque churchyard; it is often referred to as ‘Frankley Church’ due to its location in Frankley. Although over the border into Worcestershire, it is a real jewel in the crown of Bartley Reservoir and has served the local community since it was built. Originally a Roman Catholic Church until the The Protestant Reformation (1500's) where it became Church of England.
The Parish register is rare in that there is an unbroken line of priests since 1236 to the present day, where it is now led by Reverend Jane Platt., the first woman vicar to do so. A large proportion of the congregation now comes from the Bartley Green Ward of Birmingham, and most people in the area and surrounding wards will have some connection with the church whether it be family members being christened, married, or buried there. It's a beautiful place to relax, and we encourage people to visit and explore the church on your walk around the reservoir. Be sure to use the off-road trail that starts at the junction of Scotland Lane/Frankley Lane and provides a safer route to the back of the church.
Like most ancient church buildings St Leonard's is a combination of additions made over time. Historic England records the current structure of St Leonard's Church as a Grade II listed 15th century building, but reference is made to the church in historic documents from 1216. The west tower replaced a wooden structure in 1751, which was again replaced in 1931 and 1947 following fires. The fire of 1931 gutted the tower, destroyed the organ, and caused damage to the nave, and the old bell from 1588 was melted away from its position and destroyed the font when it fell. Along with the repairs that followed, a vestry was added, a new organ installed, and the bell pieces were sieved from the ashes, melted, and recast. The bell was again damaged by the fire of 1947 and once again the fragments were melted and recast.
The churchyard is also remarkable with many tree species growing in a relatively small space around the church and amongst the gravestones. The Yew Trees are especially old and thought to be around 300-400 years old. The trees and wild grassland behind the church attract a wide variety of colourful birds such as Robin, Goldfinch and Goldcrest, and birds of prey can be seen hunting, including the Kestrel, Common Buzzard, and the migratory Hobby if you are lucky. The churchyard also tells the history of the local area with key local people being buried there, such as previous residents of nearby Ley Hill House (now demolished) that include Charles Henry Palethorpe (who was the biggest sausage manufacturer in the world at the time), and Christian Kunzle and his family (of Kunzle Cakes).
For more detailed information regarding the church's history and architecture, click here, or purchase 'A Short History' for £1 from inside the church of which some of the information in the above is taken.