Tuesday, 16 December 2008

“Diary of a Small Village Catholic Church.” Episode 1.

Some years ago I was given access to our parish archives. There exists a number of notice books dating back to the latter half of the 19th century. After reading through them and copying down some notable entries, an interesting snapshot of parish life could be built up. These entries were arranged under headings and some of these I think would make interesting blog material. Entries in the notice books were written in a sort of ‘short hand’ English so they are reproduced here in italics, with some filling in required in non italicised text. So here is the first instalment of a blog series “Diary of a Small Village Catholic Church.” Episode 1.

Our Church was opened in 1860 and the first ‘notice' book takes up the story of the church some eight years later beginning June 28 1868. January 1869 sees the first of many appeals for money. There will be "a collection today to meet the expense of apparatus for heating the church". This collection realised £8.1.11. It is known that the church could seat 500 in the pews that were available to those who paid bench rates (due quarterly). These bench rents were intended, in part, to subsidise heating costs. (Nov 4, 1877) “Bench rents due, very expensive to keep up fire, give a little, 6d sitting. Those not sitting put on plate next Sunday – don’t impose, but suggest. Heating apparatus : unpaid £15.”

Nuns arrived during the year 1870. No mention is made of who, or where, but entries in the notice book tell their own story.

July 10 th : "All those who have not yet made their offering to the Convent, please to do so as soon as possible. The offerings for this purpose will be thankfully received in the vestry".
July 17 th : "Collection to furnish Convent. Nuns arrive on Friday !"
In the absence of other events occurring around about this time, it is reasonable to conclude that an entry for the 23th July refers to the opening of the Convent, - "Last Mass today (10.30 am.) to ask Gods blessing on work this day begun.”

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