ID ECS_1882_NOV25_005

TitleRe-opening of West Mersea Church 23 November 1882
AbstractRE-OPENING OF WEST MERSEA CHURCH. On Thursday last a special Service was held in the Parish Church of West Mersea, to celebrate the reopening of the Church, after its having undergone extensive internal restoration. The work was under the control of the Vicar, the Rev. T.R. Musselwhite, and the Churchwardens, Mr. Hugh Green and Mr. H. J. Eagle, and they entrusted its execution to Mr. Joseph Grimes, of Colchester, who has satisfactorily and economically carried out the alterations. The most prominent improvement has been the removal of the three galleries which formerly completely occupied the West end of the Church, and hid the old Norman arch of the tower which has now been brought into view, greatly improving the general appearance of the sacred edifice. The floor of the tower itself has been arranged so as to seat and accommodate the School children. The whole body of the Nave has been re-floored, and the old unsightly square pews have been converted into neat-looking open benches, which are to be stained and grained to represent old Church oak. The Pulpit has been lowered and re-fixed, and a new Reading Desk and Lectern provided. In the Chancel a decided improvement has been made by removing the old plaster ceiling, and the oaken roof has been restored and panelled between the rafters, so as to expose the timbers. The Font has been removed to the Western end and placed under the Norman arch, while the old-fashioned heating stove, which formerly stood in the centre of the Church, has been taken away. The interior of the Church has been cleaned and coloured, and altogether the alterations have been decidedly for the better, and have effected a vast improvement in the interior of the Church. The cost has been between £200 and £300. It is in contemplation to erect new Communion rails; and to pave the floor of the Church with tiles; and in addition it is proposed to illuminate the Chancel walls. Not the least important change that has taken place is the substitution of a handsome new and sweetly-toned organ, built by Mr. A. C. Pease, of Newington, the cost of which approaches closely to 120 guineas. The compass is 4 ¾ octaves, CCC to F; it is fitted with the following stops :- Open Diapason 8ft.; Dulciania 8ft.; stop Diapason 8ft.; Lieback Gedact 8ft.; Principal 4ft.; Harmonic Piccolo 2ft.; 12th, and Gemshorn 4ft. On the pedals there is an open Diapason, with coupler joining the great organ to the pedals. All the stops, except the open Diapason, are enclosed in a swell box.

There was a good congregation at the Church for the opening Service, at which the following clergy attended in their surplices to meet the Bishop of Colchester, who had undertaken to preach the Sermon : - The Revds. T.R. Musselwhite, Vicar of West Mersea ; E. Musselwhite, Salcot Virley; N.P. Gepp, St. James', Colchester; W.F. Clements, St. Paul's, Colchester; J. Pilditch, Abberton; A. Pertwee, Brightlingsea; W. Parkinson, Langenhoe; F. Watson, Wigborough; W.H. Goddard, East Mersea; H.N.C. Hewson Fingringhoe; and J.M. Gatrill, Mistley.

The First Lesson was read by the Rev. F. Watson beginning at the 60th chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah; and the Second Lesson was read by the Rev. J. Pilditch, beginning at the 19th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke, v. 37. Special Hymns and Psalms, and an Anthem, "Oh Lord how amiable," were sung by the village Choir, Mrs. Musselwhite presiding at the new organ. The Sermon was preached by the Bishop of Colchester, who took his text from Psalm cxxii. 1, "I was glad when they said unto me, I will go into the House of the Lord." His Lordship asked, why should they have a House of the Lord; and why should they not be content to worship Him under the canopy of Heaven since the Heavens and the earth were an image of His power, goodness, and love; why should they have special places for the worship of God? He answered because they would never do that which they could do any day, and because they would never worship God if they had not these special places to remind them of it. Then again the house of God ought to be a centre of spiritual life and unity. Of old the various tribes of Israel gathered together from all quarters to the House of God at Jerusalem, which was to them a centre of unity. So long as the temple lasted the nation was bound together with a unity which, perhaps, had seldom or ever been witnessed in any other nation, but when the temple was destroyed, because the nation had ceased to do the work God required, that national unity was broken up. Now the Church of Christ ought to be a centre of unity. Their Cathedrals, situate in the midst of the Dioceses were the centre of life for each particular Diocese; and what the temple of Jerusalem was of old to the Jews, what the Cathedral was to the Diocese, such should the Parish Church be to the parish. After remarking that the Church had undergone many changes, and that it was necessary she should change unless she was to be entirely left behind, his Lordship said no one would deny that the Church was the same in essentials as the Church of Christ which existed in the time of the Apostles. In conclusion, the Bishop said that this renovated, repaired, and restored Church was a token of the vitality of the Christian Church; they had been taking part in a good work in assisting to inaugurate that renovation, and he urged them to give their best in order to clear off the sum of £20 or so, which was required to defray the expenses which had been incurred.

Upon the conclusion of the service the Bishop and Clergy walked in procession to the Vestry, the Hymn "I love the House of God" being sung by the Choir as a Recessional.

The offertory amounted to over £11.

Shortly after the service, a company of between 40 and 50 sat down to an excellent luncheon, served in the school-room of the parish, by Mrs. Guiver, of the George Hotel, Colchester. The Rector occupied the Chair; in addition to the Bishop and Clergy who were at the Church, there were also present - Messrs. H.J. Eagle and Hugh Green, Churchwardens; J. Grimes, (Colchester), J. Mustard, Alexander Bean, J.A. Pledger, Cooper Green, W. Cockrell, Charles Harvey, A. Sanders, and a number of ladies.

Upon the conclusion of the repast, the Vicar gave the toast of "Church and Queen." (Applause.) In reference to the first portion of the toast, he said he did not believe they knew how deeply they loved their Church; he then proceeded to refer to the improvements effected in the Parish Church, and commented upon the archaeological associations connected with the Church and the parish. In reference to that part of the toast referring to Her Majesty, he remarked that in Colchester that day brave men were being feasted who had done service to their Queen. (Applause.)

The Bishop then proposed the health of the Vicar. (Applause.) He must congratulate the parish upon what had been done; it was a beginning, but it was a good beginning. This parish was fortunate in having a fund which was applicable to the repair of the Church, in addition to the contributions of those who were willing to give. With regard to the galleries, he supposed the children who occupied them must have been children of a high standard - (Laughter) - who worshipped at 30 ft. above the level of the sea - (Renewed Laughter.) - he meant above the level of the land, though the difference between those two levels was not so great at Mersea as at other places. He again congratulated Mr. Musselwhite, and the parish generally, upon what he had been enabled to do, to make the Church more fitted for its high purpose, and he asked them to drink the health of the Vicar and Mrs. Musselwhite.

The Vicar then briefly proposed the health of the Bishop of Colchester, which was warmly received.

His Lordship, who was compelled to leave for Colchester, suitably acknowledged the compliment, and then left the room.

A few other toasts were honoured, and a pleasant afternoon was passed.

From The Essex Standard, West Suffolk Gazette, and Eastern Counties Advertiser, Saturday November 25 1882. Page 5.

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West Mersea Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul

Simon Eagle
British Newspaper Archive

Published25 November 1882
SourceMersea Museum