This Saturday we entertain Birmingham Moseley. The match kicks off at the earlier time of 14:00 after the traditional silence for Remembrance Day. Do not be late.
These days Moseley is a suburb of Birmingham and therefore in the West Midlands - but traditionally it was part of Worcestershire. Those who suggest going back to the traditional counties should be asked to draw the boundaries of Worcestershire and its surrounding counties - it was a mess of enclaves and exclaves reflecting medieval land ownership. When Counties only provided courts, this was no a major issue, but when County Councils were created with administrative tasks, the patchwork became problematic and most of the borders were simplified though a series of parliamentary orders. Though Dudley remained an exclave until it became part of West Midlands in the 1970s - something that my school teachers would tell us on the end of year outing to the zoo, presumably to ensure our trip was educational.
Moseley appears in the Domesday Book as a hamlet associated with the manor of Bromsgrove, twelve miles to the South West. We do not know the origin of the name, but the Doomsday spelling of Museleie suggests a clearing the size of a mouse. Bromsgrove and its outlying hamlets formed a Royal manor, hence neighbouring districts of King's Norton and King's Heath.
The parishioners of Moseley had to make the difficult journey to mass until the 1405, when Pope Innocent VII signed a document instructing the Bishop of Worcester to provide a fit person to say mass in St Mary's chapel. The fact the papal document names the chapel suggests the chapel may have already existed, but no earlier evidence exists, so this is the date the church takes as its foundation. As a royal manor, various kings took interest in the church. Henry VIII instructed that stone from the garden walls of the parsonage at Bromsgrove be brought to build the tower, while his son Edward VI - the first truly Protestant King of England - sent commissioners to remove traces of popery. In the Civil War, Moseley was a hotbed of puritanism, on the Restoration,two of the curates were expelled for refusing to agree to the moderate Anglican form of worship.
Throughout this period, Moseley is still a small village and the chapel still subsidiary to that at Bromsgrove. The curate at Moseley was paid a stipend, but tithes still funded the parson. Traditionally whenever a new parson was appointed the first years tithes were sent to the pope, obviously after split with Rome these went to the crown. Queen Anne, realising that the population of towns were growing, dedicated this money to buy land to fund new parishes and Moseley benefited from Queen's Anne's Bounty to become a parish in its own right - suggesting that the village was growing.
Birmingham, three miles North - was growing as a centre of fine metal work. Iron smelting was mainly further up into the Black Country while Birmingham made buttons, jewellery, toys and guns. One manufacturer of such items John Taylor bought Moseley Hall - In 1765 Taylor went into Banking with his partner, a Welsh Quaker Sampson Lloyd. John Taylor's son also called John, like many intellectuals and radicals of the time supported the ideals of the French Revolution and in 1791 attended a dinner to mark the second anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. The dinner was met by a mob claiming to support Church and King. They sacked four churches and 29 houses associated with dissenters, including the home of Joseph Priestley and Moseley Hall.
Moseley remained rural until the coming of the railway in the 19th century. The Camp Hill line opened in 1840 and for 100 years provided a link to Birmingham New Street. The passenger stations were closed as a cost cutting measure during the second world war - though the line is still used for through trains. The newly elected Mayor of Birmingham is looking reopen the stations - but not in time for this season.
Moseley gained further links with dissenting churches when Spring Green College, a training for Congregationalist Ministers moved into a new Gothic revival building on the edge of the village. In 1871, the University Tests Act permitted non-conformists to take degrees and the college moved to Oxford to become Mansfield College. The building were initially taken over as a hydrotherapy centre but were soon bought by Birmingham Corporation for use as a boys grammar school - the boys of course played the rugby code and would have filled the ranks of the newly formed football club.
In the 1880s, the Taylor family had left the Moseley hall and are looking to sell or lease their land. They agreed to rent a field south of the Hall known as the Reddings to the football club. The first match at the Reddings was against Leicester. The Hall was sold to Richard Cadbury - who with his brother was building a model village for the workers at their factory a couple of miles to the South West. Cadbury donated the Hall to corporation and it is now a hospital.
The club remained at the Reddings until 2000 - their last game at that ground was a victory over Worcester. However, while successful on the field, off the field professionalism had taken its toll and the struggle to remain successful had led to administration and the grounds were sold for housing. A brief period playing at the University followed before they moved to their current ground at Billesley Common and regained a place at level 2. They remained in the Championship until 2016. The relegation coincided with a change of name to Birmingham Moseley Rugby an attempt to attract more support from the wider city.
Last season they finished 5th. This included a record win over Cambridge at Billesley Common, they also won the game at Granchester Road - so we are still looking for a first win. This season they are sitting 8th, one place and five points ahead of Cambridge. They have won their last two games, at Fylde and against Loughborough Students. Moseley 2nds came to Cambridge to take on the University on the 1st Nov - losing 27-24 to the Light Blues. Blood and Sand old boys Tom Fiddler and Chris Leathem played in that game. Both are struggling for game time. Hopefully we will see them on Saturday.
The 2nds have the week off and the 3rds are travelling to Haverhill for a league match. Haverhill are struggling this season, having lost the first eight games. The 3rds won the home fixture 77-5 and will be hoping to repeat the performance this week.
Updated 15:29 - 9 Nov 2017 by Marcus Streets