Bishop Stamer

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“The object of the charity shall be the relief of sickness by supporting the provision of nursing, convalescent and rest facilities and the promotion of healthy living with a preference for helping the aged and/or infirm of the North Staffordshire area”

BishopStamerPhoto3 Lovelace Tomlinson Stamer – 1829-1908
 

Lovelace Tomlinson Stamer was born at Ingram’s Lodgings, York, on 18 October 1829, the elder son of Sir Lovelace Stamer, 2 baronet, (a Dragoon Guards Captain), and Caroline (nee Tomlinson), the daughter of a potteries solicitor. He was educated at Rugby School and Trinity College, Cambridge, B.A. 1853, M.A. 1856, D.D. 1888. He was ordained deacon in 1853 and served as curate at Clay Cross, Derbyshire 1853-4 and at Turvey, Bedfordshire 1854-5.

He was ordained priest in 1855 and became curate-in-charge at Long Melford, Suffolk, 1855-7. After his marriage to Ellen Isabel Dent, only daughter of Joseph Dent of Ribston Hall, Yorks, on 16th April 1857 and had five sons and three daughters. He soon moved to the Potteries and succeeded his uncle, J. W. Tomlinson, as rector of Stoke upon Trent in January 1858, retaining this position for the next 34 years. He became 3 baronet on the death of his father on 5 March 1860.

BishopStamerPhoto2 St Peter AD Vincula (Now Stoke Minster)
 

Stoke’s Parish church St Peter Ad Vincula, now Stoke Minster, was a middle class church accommodating 1,410 worshippers but as there were only 208 free sittings the poor industrial workers were unable to pay pew rents and, therefore, stayed away. Bishop Stamer realised he had to take the church to the people and he established a mission room at Stoke Wharf for canal boatmen and their families. He opened missions and Sunday schools in Stoke, Boothen and Cliffe Vale and paid the salaries of the curates involved from his own income.

When 92 men and boys from the Talke o’ the Hill Colliery were killed in an underground explosion in 1866 Stamer and Sir Smith Child launched a public appeal and raised £17,000 for their families. They then founded the Coal and Ironstone Workers Relief Society which enabled miners to insure themselves against unemployment caused by industrial injury by regularly contributing to a central fund which gave them a weekly income in the event of injury.

Stamer was a governor of the North Staffordshire Infirmary and in 1872 he established the Staffordshire Nurses Institution in the Sir Smith child Ward. Supported by donations and subscriptions the Institution sent out nurses free of charge to minister to the very poor. Such was the need and the success of the Institution that in 1877 it was decided to erect a permanent home for the nurses at at cost of £2280. The land was given by Bishop Stamer and more than half the cost was raised by donations. An extension was added in 1889 and it became a Nursing Home used for surgical operations. It was later to be taken over by the Military Authorities during the Second World War and subsequently became a Home for the Elderly, officially opening in 1949 and called Stamer House.

In an age dominated by prejudice and religious bigotry, Stamer held liberal views. He was a member of the Discharged Prisoners’ Aid Society and persuaded them to open a Refuge and Industrial Home in Stafford for discharged female prisoners and friendless women.

He allowed nonconformists to serve as pupil teachers in his schools. He was chairman of the Stoke upon Trent School Board from 1871 to1888, where he was responsible for the education of 5000 children. As existing schools only had places for 3600 pupils the board opened six new schools.

BishopStamerPhoto1 Cliffville – shortly before its demolition
 

He was an energetic man who led a very busy life. He lived at Cliffeville, a two storey mansion overlooking the Fowlea Brook valley, built by his grandfather John Tomlinson in 1810. This house later became St Dominic’s High School, although the building was demolished in 1988 to make way for a small housing estate.

On 7th November 1884 the Bishop of Lichfield visited the new Hartshill cemetery, between Hartshill and Penkhull, provided by the Corporation of Stoke, and performed the rite of consecration of the portion allotted to the members of the Church of England, as Archdeacon Lovelace Tomlinson Stamer accompanied him.

In 1888 he was appointed Bishop of Shrewsbury and was consecrated in St Paul’s Cathedral. He used his position to improve housing conditions and attack local government corruption. When ill health forced him to retire in 1905 he went to live in Penkridge but on his death in 1908 his body was brought back to the Potteries for his funeral and burial in Hartshill Cemetary. He was largely responsible for the Stoke Rectory Act of 1889 by which the patronage and endowment of Stoke upon Trent rectory passed from his mother’s family to the bishop of Lichfield, and which provided additional endowments for St. John’s Church, Hanley, St. John’s Church in Longton, Christ Church in Fenton, and other rural parish churches.In his Memoir of Stamer, F.D. how states that the funeral almost baffled description. Bishops, Archdeacons and clergy were present in their hundreds, together with the earl of Lichfield and the High Sheriff of Shropshire, the Mayor and Magistrates of Stoke but the greatest numbers were found in the working men and women of the Potteries who stood in silent ranks, six deep, to see him pass. It was said that it was a day they would never forget and that they looked upon him, in everything but name, as ‘Bishop of the Potteries’.