Charles Vince was born in 1823, in Farnham, Surrey. He was born into a Congregationalist background. His father was a carpenter and a builder. Charles attended a local school of a nephew of Charles Cobbett who was an English pamphleteer, independent journalist and Member of Parliament. He then became an apprentice to Mason and Jackson which was the company that his father worked for. Sometime later, he joined the local Mechanics Institute.

Engraving of Charles Vince (The Baptist Encyclopaedia)

After a baptism convention, he studied at Stepney College in 1848. He was then allocated to the Mount Zion Chapel, in Graham Street, Birmingham. This made him a well renowned religious leader and Baptist minister who was described as being a “charismatic preacher”.

Mount Zion Chapel was opened in 1824 and was close to the heart of Birmingham, on the edge of the Jewellery Quarter. It had an octagonal brick structure with a pedimented front and a recessed Doric portico (a porch that leads to the entrance of the building). It seated about 2,000 people. It was first used by the Presbyterians for two years before their migration to a smaller chapel in Newhall Street. The chapel started doing baptisms in 1827. From 1844 the popular ministry of George Dawson made the chapel one of the most popular in Birmingham, before he left to form his own independent congregation at the undenominational Church of the Saviour, built in Edward Street.

Engraving of Mount Zion Chapel (Birmingham Museum Trust)
Lithograph showing Interior of Baptist Chapel Graham Street Birmingham (Birmingham Museum Trust)

Charles Vince successfully rebuilt the congregation which had dwindled when Dawson left and became very popular as a preacher and an important figure in the city. Vince had a hand in developing Birmingham’s social organisations. He was a member of Birmingham’s first school board. He was also a figure of the Birmingham “civic renaissance” (or “civic gospel”). He spoke for causes including the Reform League, the National Education League, and the Liberal Association. He defended the radicalism of George Edmonds in an 1868 funeral sermon for him, is also buried at Key Hill cemetery.

Charles Vince died on the 21st of October 1874 at the age of 51, following a serious illness. He is buried in Section K, grave 284.

The Baptist Encyclopedia (1881) includes an account of his funeral:

How well he served the community in the esteem of his fellow-citizens was testified at his funeral by the representatives of all classes and parties and sects. The chief magistrate of Birmingham, and deputations from all the public bodies, the ministers of the various Nonconformist churches, several of the Established clergy, the Jewish rabbi, and one of the dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church, assembled around the grave to express not only their personal respect, but the universal sense of an irreparable loss. Baptists from all parts of the country were like wise present to mourn with their bereaved brethren of the neighbourhood.

Mount Zion chapel where Charles Vince had been minister closed in 1913 and the chapel was later demolished. In the 1950s, an OS Map of the area shows a warehouse on the site.

Graham Street in the 1920s. The Mount Zion chapel is the Octagonal building. OS Map via Edina Digimap
Graham Street in the 1950s. There is now a warehouse on the site of the chapel. OS Map via Edina Digimap

Further Reading

Rev. Charles Vince, The Baptist Encyclopaedia, page 1194-5, archived online here

A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7, the City of Birmingham, Places of Worship, available via British History Online

Victorian Do-gooders: Charles Vince by Jewellery Quarter Research Trust

Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project

Instagram

On 25th November 2021, Olivia Swinscoe @oliviagracephoto ran a photography workshop for Year 10 pupils from City Academy @corecity_acad. The group were each given a disposable camera with 27 shots, to capture themes of life and death such as 'movement and stillness', 'light and shadow' and 'public cemetery, private grief' while exploring Key Hill and Warstone Lane Cemeteries.
This video contains just a selection of the best photos taken by Year 10.
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Explore the Gothic side of the Jewellery Quarter with Tour Guide Ian Braisby before warming up at the Shakespeare Inn & rounding off the afternoon with a candlelit tour of @coffin_works museum.
A unique experience on Sun 5th Dec from 2pm-6pm. Tickets £20:
https://the-coffin-works.arttickets.org.uk/the-coffin-works/2021-12-05-jewellery-quarter-gothic-walking-tour
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Is it too early to talk about Christmas?
We hope not because we're getting really excited about 'Christmas Classics at the Catacombs' with @voiceofthetown choir on 2nd December at 4.30pm
Free event - Christmas songs, project thank yous & festive raffle!
https://cemeteries.jewelleryquarter.net/event/christmas-classics-at-the-catacombs/
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Explore the Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries & discover the stories which link the area to the world, through the history of the British Empire.

Carrying on the work begun during the #2Visions2Legacies project, we have a new tour exploring Colonial Connections in the Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries. Join us for FREE on the 27th or 28th November:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/-210984920577
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This project is possible because of funding from: