Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Blackmore: Rededication of Church 1902 (1)

Recently I was generously given this photograph by someone clearing out a home in Blackmore. Here, seated in the back garden of the then Vicarage, are local worthies from the early twentieth century. Someone had the presence of mind to write in pencil on the back “Re-opening of Church & Presentation of Illuminated address to the Vicar. 9 June 1902.” From research I had already done on the history of Blackmore – and published in ‘Blackmore; A Short History’ - I immediately realised the significance of the event. The following is taken from the Essex Chronicle (13th June 1902), found in the Cuttle collection held at the Essex Record Office [ERO T/D 181/2/11].

“Blackmore Church Restored
Presentation to the Vicar
“One of the Bishop’s Cheery Days”

“Monday was a red-letter day among the Churchpeople of Blackmore, it being the occasion of thanksgiving and dedicatory services in connection with the restoration of the Parish Church and steeple. The work of restoration has been going on since 1898, and it has since been of a most complete character. The ancient fabric has been greatly improved, and, where possible, the repairs have been executed so as not to alter the appearance.

“The improvements, which have cost altogether about £2,500, include the entire reframing of the nave roof, which has been provided with a new oak ceiling; the north arcade has been rebuilt, and the chancel rearranged. New choir stalls of oak, a fresh heating apparatus, and a sweet-toned organ have been provided. The aisle roofs have been renewed, the north wall has been entirely rebuilt and the peculiar steeple has been practically rebuilt; the old wood being used as far as could be. All the bells have been rehung, and the tenor bell has been re-cast while chiming apparatus has been fixed. The mausoleum, too, has been removed and fitted as a side chapel, while three painted windows have been placed in the church. One of the windows is to the memory of the late Dr White, for many years the vicar’s warden, and another to the late Mr H J Barrett, who gave £300 to the steeple fund. Mr F Chancellor, of Chelmsford, was the architect. The total amount of subscription received up to the present is about £2,200. Some handsome needlework has also been given to the church by Mrs Wantheuir. A new oak pulpit, lectern and screen are among other noteworthy improvements.

“The address, which was pleasantly executed in colours by Mr F W B Stocker, of Chelmsford, recorded in thankfulness the good work of Mr Petrie’s ministry, noting especially his successful efforts in obtaining a vicarage-house and a church hall, and in carrying out the restoration of the church. It continued: “We value deeply our well-appointed and well-cared for free and open church. We are deeply sensible of the zeal and love which you have shown in the furtherance of your Master’s work, both by your pastoral labours in the church and in our homes, and we are not unminded by your kindly efforts in connection with the social side of our church life. We trust that divine blessing may rest upon your work, and that you and Mrs Petrie may long enjoy health and strength to continue your labours among us”. The presentation was organised by Miss Hull, assisted by Mr F Scrutton, Mr G White, and Mrs Knightsbridge. There were 240 subscribers, including almost every parishioner, and the subscriptions ranged from one penny upwards. The contributions were most willingly given Mr and Mrs Petrie being exceptionally popular.

“Mr Petrie, who was greeted with applause said he was more than delighted at the kind expressions of his parishioners, and he could not thank them adequately. He had only honestly tried to do his duty (Applause). It was an honour to have a hand in the repair of the ancient Priory of Blackmore. In the initial stages of the work he was considered to be a man of weak intellect (laughter) and pressure was brought to bear on him to build a new church and leave the old one as a ruin. The skill of the architect had been ably displayed by the renovation. He (Mr Petrie) believed that the right judgment had been followed. One great difficulty was the churchyard, but Mr T R Hull voluntarily gave a strip of land for its enlargement (Applause). Among the many who had extended ready assistance were Lord Salisbury, Viscountess Cranbourn, Mrs McIntoch, Miss Hull, Mrs Petrie, and the late Mr Barrett. There was also a large donation from an anonymous friend. One very poor woman gave him, unasked, threepence (Applause). Between £300 and £400 had been realised by sales &c. In conclusion, the Vicar said he and Mrs Petrie would value the testimonial as long as they lived (Applause).

“The health of the Churchwardens (Captain Wellesley Pigott J.P., and Mr F Scrutton) was drunk, and Mr Scrutton responded, saying it was a “treat to do anything for our Vicar” (Applause).

“Mr G Crowe, a Nonconformist, asked to be allowed to speak a few words. He said he attended the function because of the love and respect he had for the Vicar (Applause). He had never before given his mite with so much pleasure as he did to Mr Petrie’s testimonial (Applause). He (Mr Crowe) was not ashamed of his Nonconformity – (hear, hear) – but he was willing to “agree to differ”. He never knew a clergyman so assiduous as Mr Petrie. He had known Mr Petrie to walk miles to visit a poor person and also act as nurse (Applause).”

The challenge now is to name all the people.

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