A tragic accident / St. Peter’s – Foundation ceremony

Before we leave 1837 Nayler found two items of news in sharp contrast. The first refers to a local tragedy on August 15th - An inquisition was held, on the body of William Martin, of Sedgley, who was drowned in consequence of falling out of a boat at Priestfield, in which, with about 100 others, he was returning from Wolverhampton Races. Every effort was made to save him, but to no avail. A Verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned. This would have been a fall from a canal boat. It would not be surprising, if many were disembarking from such numbers, that one fell into the canal, particularly if many were alighting, at the bridge in Gibbet Lane (now Ward Street) before returning home towards Sedgley.

1837 was also the year in which the famed Rev. Charles Girdlestone prepared to leave the parish. He was to be succeeded by his curate William Lewis M.A.

Newspapers recorded the preparations afoot - August 23rd - The dinner-service of plate about to be presented to the Rev. C. Girdlestone by the parishioners of Sedgley is being executed by Mr. Keeley of Birmingham. Each article will have the design of the Parish Church engraved upon it, and the soup tureen will bear a suitable inscription.

So we enter 1838 and Girdlestone’s expansion of the Anglican cause in the old parish was still being realised.

April 14th – New Church at Upper Gornal – The foundation stone of this edifice was laid on Tuesday last by Lord Ward, the day on which his lordship attained his majority. The clergy and gentry having assembled at the Sedgley Vicarage went in procession to the ground appropriated for the erection of the new building, where his lordship met with them, and the ceremony commenced with singing the 100th Psalm. A prayer was then offered by the Rev. W. Lewis M.A., Vicar of Sedgley. Lord Ward, on laying the stone, addressed some appropriate and excellent observations to the people assembled, at the conclusion of which a gentleman proposed three cheers for his lordship, which were most heartily given.

An inscribed plate was laid beneath St. Peter’s foundation stone bearing the words: “The first stone of this Church was laid by the Right Honourable William, Lord Ward, March 27th 1838, being the day on which his Lordship attained his majority, and in the first year of the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria.”

William Lewis, Vicar
Theophilus Tinsley and Isaac Hill, Church wardens
Robert Ebbels, Architect
“Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 3 - 11

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