The New Tower of Great Wigborough Church
Newspaper cutting in Great Wigborough Church files, from Wormell Collection. From Essex Standard.
Transcription by Anne Taylor

A very interesting ceremony, and one which has not been witnessed for many years in this neighbourhood, took place on Friday last, September 4th, when Mrs Watson (wife of the Rev. Frederick Watson, Rector) laid the foundation stone of the new tower of Great Wigborough Church. The old tower was much shattered by the earthquake of April 22nd, 1884, two of the pinnacles having been thrown down at the time. Mr Joseph Clarke, of No 13, Stratford Place, Oxford Street, London, St Alban's Diocesan Architect, and Architect for the Diocese of Canterbury, was consulted, and he at once said that to the best of his belief it would only be throwing away money to spend anything on the old tower. It was therefore settled by the Rector and Churchwardens to rebuild the tower. Mr Letch's estimate of £614 was agreed upon.

Soon after half-past three o'clock, the time named for laying the stone, the rain, which had been falling since eleven o'clock ceased, and the sun shone brightly during the ceremony. The Clergy robed in the Vestry, and proceeded to the spot where stone was about to be laid, and where the Choir stood, with the harmonium, singing the processional hymn, "Brightly gleams our banner, & c." Hymn No 394 in the New Version of Hymns Ancient and Modern was sung -

"O Lord of hosts, whose glory fills.
The bounds of the eternal hills, &c."

Mrs Watson then laid the foundation stone, saying in a clear, audible voice, "I declare this stone duly laid in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

The Rev. F. Watson delivered a short address, concluding with the hope that our Heavenly Father would favourably approve their work, and asking those present to pray for His blessing on their undertaking. He then offered up a few appropriate prayers from the Prayer Book. The Choir sung with much feeling and most impressively "The Church's one foundation". The Rev. Frederick Watson pronounced the Blessing, and the Clergy retired during the singing of Hymn 379 - "Now thank we all our God." - Miss C.E. Harvey and Miss Alen accompanied the Choir on the harmonium.

Mr. Letch provided a handsome silver-plated trowel, and a well-carved mallet and level made out of the oak of the old tower. The foundation stone is a piece of Portland Stone. The inscription on it is as follows -
"This Foundation Stone of the Tower of the Church of St. Stephen, Great Wigborough, was laid in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, by Emily Ann, wife of the Rev. Frederick Watson, M.A., Rector, on the 4th day of Sept, 1885."

There was a large attendance of neighbours and parishioners, which would have been more numerous if the weather in the morning had been more favourable. It was gratifying to see a good number of the labouring population present (Mr Chas Harvey and Mr Chas Hutley) and their families; the Rev. F.J.R Laurence, Mrs and the Misses Laurence, the Rev. T., Mrs, and Miss Musselwhite, the Rev. F.J. and Mrs Ball, the Rev, T.E. and Mrs Cartwright, the Rev. E. and Miss Musselwhite, the Rev. T.O. and Mrs Price, the Misses Blyth, Miss Bean, Mr Tibbet (clerk of the works), Mrs and the Misses Abbott, Mrs Henry Abbott, Miss Barrett, Mr. and Miss Alen, Messrs and Misses Cause, Mr Balls, Mr and Mrs Cooke, & c. The interesting scene was enlivened with a number of flags hung on the scaffolding and the trees around.

Read More;
Great Wigborough Parish Church - a short history
The earthquake of 1884 - Gt & Lt Wigborough

Date: 12 September 1885
Image: Mersea Museum
Image ID GWG_CHC_101