So Much More Than Just Thomas’ wife

Mary was born into relative privilege in 1832, something she never took for granted as her later life would show. She Married Thomas William Rogers and they went on to have 4 children, her younger adult life was dedicated to raising her family.

Mary was a member and Sunday school teacher of Hagley Road Baptist Church; she was very sympathetic to causes of the poorer classes and that of young girls and women caught up in the growing problem of prostitution within the city. In 1878 a friend and magistrate suggested that Mary may help in setting up a reform home for “Wayward “girls, several of which had been set up in other major cities around the country.

The Rogers had a large circle of friends which included the Chamberlain, Kenrick, Martineau, Cadbury and Osler families all of which were supporters of the Civic Gospel which saw social reform as an actual expression of the Christian faith.

Mary together with many other women from her circle of friends were concerned with “moral reform” they regularly visited brothels, courts, workhouses and prisons in an attempt to stop women falling into prostitution. She was even known to sit in the cells of women before their trials to comfort them. Many of these were young girls who would enter Mary’s reform home where they would receive teaching and training in things like cooking, cleaning, and the Three Rs, this allowed them to improve their own social skills and standing. Mary’s daughter in law would go on to start a girl’s night shelter in 1888, this would remain open until the 1990s.

One of, if not the greatest of Mary’s achievements was to found Birmingham’s First Women’s Hospital, this was set up in a house in Sparkhill and offered eight beds. Two stained glass windows from this house now reside in the current Women’s Hospital

Mary was heavily involved in the Suffragette movement becoming Honorary secretary of the Birmingham Suffrage Society, sadly she would not live to see this movement succeed.

Mary Showell Rogers died in 1884 and is buried with members of her family in Key Hill Cemetery (Section C, Plot 17), where the inscription on the broken gravestone simply reads “Mary, wife of the above Thomas”.

Unburied Treasures Audio Tour – Mary Showell Rogers (written and performed by Nicki Collins)

Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project


We are loving the summer weather and all the opportunities it brings for outdoor events, including theatre and music.
On 28th August we're having an 'Acoustic Afternoon' in the catacombs at Warstone Lane Cemetery and are looking for musicians! Interested?

We have welcomed Oscar Wilde and @dontgointothecellar to the catacombs in Warstone Lane on this fine summer evening.
Want to join us for a unique theatre experience? Tickets now on sale for Strictly Sherlock on Saturday 21st August:
@jq_bid @jewelleryquarter

Just what we’ve been waiting for @madebycooper

Our Key Hill badges have arrived and they are spot on 🤩

You can get yours by donating to our @crowdfunderuk to support the @friendskeyhillwarstonelanecem in raising essential funds for restoring gravestones.

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#crowdfunder #jewelleryquarter #jewelleryquarterbirmingham #birminghamheritage

We love wildlife but it sure is hard to capture on camera! We can't wait for this workshop to get some tips from Lizee Oliver on 24th July at 10am.
No experience or DSLR needed, just your enthusiasm and your phone! Tickets £3.
Book now:

This project is possible because of funding from: