Other Activities


Computer classes

We have free computer classes using the kind donation from The Secret Millionaire.

They run on Friday afternoons 1.30 – 2.30pm

Trips out and other educational activities

We are planning to run another week long Summer School this year.  Last summer our Summer School had First Aid Awareness training, run by the British Red Cross, Creative Writing, extra English classes, a Safety Workshop run by the West Midlands Fire Service and of course our Trip to Stratford. Please see what we got up to on the What’s New page. Or visit our Facebook page to see all our photos. We have also worked with a national charity called English PEN and obtained funding from thee Near Neighbourhood Fubnd to our FUN English classes, find out more on our FUN English page.

Table Top Games

We have chess, drafts, card games and many other games available at the Sanctuary.

Small Library 

We have a small library on many themes ranging from the classics to geography.

Summer School

From 30th July to 3rd August we ran our 2nd annual Summer School.  We had plenty of activities which everyone enjoyed!!

Card making

Cathedral Tour

Trip to Tamworth

We were made to feel very welcome by the Mayor of Tamworth and the parisheoners of St John’s RC Church.  Our visit appeared on the Tamworth LIVE website!



Thanks to the staff of St. Chad’s Sanctuary for this delightful trip.

Its happy memories will last for long in the minds and hearts of the group of asylum seekers and volunteers.

Grow your Own Food

Guitar Class


Canal Boat Trip



Sister Walsh and the staff of St. Chad’s Sanctuary arranged a trip to the city of Tamworth, on the 1st.of August 2012 , for a group of asylum seekers and immigrants. At 11.15 am. a coach ,nearly filled ,started its journey to Tamworth. In nearly 30 minutes we reached our destination.

Tomtum, the original Saxon settlement, strategically placed at the confluence of the rivers Tame and Anker, became the capital of the Kingdom of Mercia. It was twice invaded by the Danes . In 1345 a great fire destroyed much of the town. Rebuilt, its prosperity increased following granting of two Charters ,in 1560 and 1588 by Elizabeth 1. These were later renewed by Charles 11 in 1663.

The town main industries were coal mining, tape mills , brickworks and ceramics. The old main industries have virtually disappeared , but new industrial estates have been created , with a large population expansion in the 60s and 70s. Having large amounts of clay , a local company utilised this clay into pottery works . The company provided large Greek style urns in the Tamworth castle grounds, ornamental stonework in the fronts of the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Law Courts in Birmingham.

Tamworth is mentioned in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Richard ,the third,  in a scene set on a plain near Tamworth, where Henry Earl of Richmond ( later becoming King Henry v11) rallies his army the night before the battle of Bosworth Field.

The Borough Coat of Arms crest shows the Tamworth Shield supported by the crowned lion, representing Staffordshire , and the chained bear representing Warwickshire. Tamworth was situated in both counties until 1889 . The crest is headed by a representation of Tamworth Castle , behind crossed swords, standing for the office of Champion of England, held by the Marmion family.

After arrival , our first stop was St. John RC Church ( The Parish of St. John the Baptist of Tamworth). This is a beautiful large church , situated on the corner of St. John’s Street and Orchard Street, which holds a history worth of remembering . After the Reformation , in the 16th.century,  Catholics were persecuted and prevented from performing Catholic Mass, suffering much in the of fines, imprisonment, and banishment for their faith. Those who appeared regularly on the recusancy lists, for the refusal to attend a church of England service ,faced the risk of being denied a decent burial upon their death. To be a catholic was almost to be a social outcast, one could not hold any public office or even vote at election. Nor could one buy or inherit landed property. Until the passing of the Relief Act of 1778, the penalty for saying Mass could be death or life imprisonment, and informers were given a reward of 100 pounds. Catholics , despite persecution continued to perform Catholic mass , secretly in houses of wealthy people in secret rooms, although at sometimes at long intervals. In 1572 , the Moat House  of Thomas Comberford ,allowed Mass to be said in his house. With the passing of the last Comberford in 1705, the celebration of Mass became less frequent. A local man ,Mr.Birch ,allowed his house to be used for the purpose of Mass. When he died , he left in his will a small plot of land where a chapel was built. This first chapel was the beginning of the parish of St. John the Baptist. Unfortunately this only lasted 5 years when mass once again , had to be celebrated in a private house.

After the lapse of nearly 300 years since the Reformation , it was in 1826 that Tamworth had a priest specially appointed to serve the town. Father John Kirk was appointed to look after Catholics in Lichfield, Tamworth and Hopwas. A small plot of land was given at Coton and on 15th.August 1815 a small chapel was opened. In 1826 Father James Kelly came to Tamworth, land was bought from Sir Robert Peel and a new church and presbytery were built on the present site. The church was officially opened on the feast of St. John the Baptist in 1830 by Bishop Walsh

Fathers Henry Norris, Walter Ireland ,Yeo , Walsh, Patrick O’Conner and Michael Gaffney , each in his time , continued further alterations and additions to the church. During the second WW ,the congregation grew vastly with evacuees from Liverpool and London and the arrival of American soldiers to Whittington Barracks. Rebuilding work started in 1954, with further alterations and additions. Today, the church is one of the most majestic modern buildings in Tamworth.

The coach stopped in St. John street , in front of St. John Church. We were welcomed by kind and friendly members of St. John Parish. The inside of the church was impressive . A member of the church gave us a brief talk about the church. After a short stay contemplating about the church and the Catholic community through more than 300 years of hardship and suffering , we moved out towards the castle and then went on to the Town Hall. In front of the town hall there is a bronze statue of Sir Robert Peel, dating from 1852, he was former Tamworth MP and twice Prime Minister . He delivered his famous ‘Tamworth Manifesto’ from the window of the Town Hall in 1834. The Town Hall was built by Thomas Guy in 1701. He was MP for Tamworth , although born in London, he was educated at Tamworth Grammer School. Thomas Guy is also known for building Guy’s Hospital in London. The building once housed the Butter Market and was used to store  the town’s fire engine. In 1817 Mr. John Robins donated a clock ,which was mounted in the front wall of the Hall. We went up to the meeting room of the Hall in the first floor. We were welcomed by the staff of the hall and we took our seats on either side of the large room. The tables before us were prepared for lunch with fine and tasty food. The Mayor of Tamworth Cllr Tina Clements came and greeted us , shaking our hands and taking photographs with  members of the visiting group. Her official dress and the Mayoral Chain and Badge were magnificently beautiful . Her kind manners are equally impressive.  In the Mayoral office we saw  the two Borough Maces and the Borough Loving Cup.

After lunch we left the Town Hall to Tamworth Castle. With over 900 years of history , 40 owners and 6 noble families from Baron Robert Marmion to Lord John Townshend , the prominent Norman keep was part of the Motte and Bailey castle dating back to 1070 AD .The castle was purchased by the Borough Council in 1897 for just 3000 pounds. The lodge gatehouse was added to the Castle in 1810. The Castle incorporated a timber drawbridge over the Castle’s dry moat or ditch which separated and defended the Castle from the town.

We went inside a large hall inside the Castle where there were members of the staff demonstrating the different weaponry. We saw the swords, and tested the weight of helmets and different metal protective dresses , different types of arrows and their uses were explained , and the different spears used to inflict different injuries and death to the enemy. Wars in the ancient times were far more exhaustive physically and daring than wars at the present time . Wars are awful , and entails horrible suffering to human beings.

At the base of the castle mound stands a monument to Aethefleda, daughter to King Alfred the Great. Known as ‘Lady of the Mercians’, she governed the Kingdom of Mercia from 913-918AD and led attacks on the invading Danes. She is depicted with her nephew Aethelstan , who later became the first King of all England.

Leaving the castle , we went through the city park. It is a large and beautifully designed land with vegetations and playgrounds. I was pleased to see the families enjoying the park restful green and joyful playgrounds.

I missed visiting the Ladybridge , the Railway Arches , St. Editha’s Church, the Methodist Church , the library and few other monumental houses. The people of Tamworth have the right to be proud of the past and the present of their beautiful town.

At 4.30 pm we started our journey back to Birmingham.

Thanks to the staff of St. Chad’s Sanctuary for this delightful trip.

Its happy memories will last for long in the minds and hearts of the group of asylum seekers .

The historical and geographical facts  constituting  most of this article, are taken from pamphlets issued by St. John the Baptist Parish and Tamworth’s Borough Council.

Mahmood Alnaimy

Smethwick , Birmingham

15th.August 2012