Umberslade Baptist Church

Hockley Heath, Near Solihull | Listed Grade II*

History and Architecture

Umberslade, dating from 1877, is now the sole survivor among grand chapels associated with the rise of Birmingham Nonconformity. As a Nonconformist "estate" chapel it is also highly unusual.

Umberslade Baptist Church was founded and paid for by George Frederick Muntz, a successful industrialist of German origin, and a Baptist convert. It lies in Umberslade Park, his coutry estate, though today a motorway separates the main house from the chapel.

The building is the last surviving major chapel of the Birmingham architect, George Ingall (1868–1910). Ingall deployed the Decorated gothic style, enriching the church with pinnacles, finials, buttresses, and a slender tower and spire, complete with carillon and clock, in winter visible from the motorway. The church is constructed in a grey sandstone. Inside, the timber furnishings are largely intact and include a large Gothic central pulpit. In front of it is an open baptistry for total immersion baptisms, finished in marble.

Many of the benches retain their gas lamps and there is an organ in the south transept. The stained glass is geometric and the memorial to the founder inside the church is is cast in 'Muntz metal', an alloy he patented to great commercial success. Muntz's grave is in the burial ground.

A free brief guide, ideal for reference when visiting the chapel, can be downloaded here.

Repair and Regeneration

HCT completed an urgent repair programme costing £500,000 in 2008. The repairs include renewing the two-coloured slate roof and extensive stonework repairs.

Plans have been drawn up to restore the interiors of the church and install facilities, subject to successful fundraising.

The church currently has no heating or electric light but is available in the summer months for events by arrangement. Burials are available in the burial ground - contact us for details.