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The Re-opening of St Oswald's Church in Bidston


Liverpool Mail - Saturday 28 June 1856


The parish church of Bidston, situated in the beautiful and picturesque village of that name, was re-opened on Thursday morning last, when a large and respectable audience assembled for divine worship in the once old ivy-covered church.” The weather was delightfully fine, and long before the hour of service (half-past eleven o’clock) the roads leading to the village of ham and egg” celebrity were crowded by the gentry, farmers, and others residing in the locality. There were also many persons in attendance from great distance. It had been announced that the Lord Bishop of the diocese would preach the opening sermon, and this circumstance of itself was sufficient to draw a large congregation, owing to his lordship’s deserved popularity. At eleven o’clock the old bells chimned a merry pearl, and gladdened the hearts of the villagers, who, owing to the rebuilding of the church, had not met for worship within its walls since the early part of September last. In the Mail, of the 30th May last, we published a sketch of the architectural alterations and improvements, resulting in the almost complete restoration of the building, which have been effected by the recommendation of the architects, the Messrs. Hay. We will now briefly recapitulate what we then stated. About two years ago John Hartley Hind, Esq., of Ashville, and Mr. Robert Hampson, of Moreton, were appointed churchwardens, when they set about enlarging the churchyard, and got a grant of 1000 yards of land from the lord of the manor, Robert Tyner, Esq, of Gauthy-hall, Lincolnshire. At the Easter vestry of 1055, Mr. J. H. Hind consulted Messrs. Hay, the architects, upon repairing the church, when they reported that a restoration of the church was absolutely necessary. A committee was appointed to camr out the designs proposed by Messrs. Hay, and on being applied to, Mr. Tyner handsomely offered to subscribe very liberally (fully one-half), provided the parishioners would raise the remainder. Mr. J. H. Hind, assisted by the Rev. C. Graham, succeeded in raising the requisite amount in less than six weeks. Lady Oust has provided the fittings of the chancel, and her daughters have made a gift of the encaustic tiles for the floor. Mr. William Hind (brother to the churchwarden) and Mr. Blythe have made a gift of the chancel window, in stained glass, the work of Mr. Watson, of Dunfermline, at a cost of one hundred guineas. The committee have also made a gift of a handsome stone font. The church is seated for 400 worshippers, with plain and massive benches of red Baltic deal, varnished; the old triplet roof with nave and aisles, fine polished stone pillars and arches, most effectively moulded and chamfered, divide the nave and aisles; and the old arch on the east side of the tower opens up the window on its west front. All the stones have been carefully rebuilt into the walls, without any external chiselling; the floor has been thoroughly drained, together with an open drain round the outside, and a powerful heating apparatus has been introduced by Mr. Alderman Bennett. The windows are filled with beautiful tracery, such as the church is supposed to have originally had. The old tower still remains untouched, but it is intended to put it into thorough state of repair so soon as the funds will admit of this being done. The works have been most satisfactorily completed by Mr. Henry Fisher, of Birkenhead, contractor for the mason and carpenter work; the plumbing, painting, and glazing by Mr. James Holt, of Liverpool; and theplaster and slater work by Mr. William Goodall; Mr. Edward Towell, clerk of the works, and Messrs. J. W. and J. Hay, I architects. Captain C. R. Egerton has presented the church with a handsomely'bound pulpit Bible and Prayer-book and the Prayer-books for the communion service have been the gift of Miss Etheldred Oust and Mrs. C. Egerton. In the forenoon, Mr. J. H. Hind, churchwarden, met the Lord Bishop at the Birkenhead railway station. His lordship was then driven to Bidston, and at the entrance of the churchyard he was met by the Venerable Archdeacon Jones, of Liverpool, the Rev. J. Tobin, the Rev. C. Graham, and other clergymen, who were attired in their clerical robes. Amongst those present during divine service were the Venerable Archdeacon Jones, the Rev. C. Graham, Rev. B. Arthure, Rev. J. Tobin, Rev. F. Haggart, Rev. Mr. Fowell, Rev. R. L. Jones, Rev. E. Batty, Rev. Mr. Moore, Rev. G. Salt, Rev. J. England, Rev. Mr. Barton, and other clergymen ; Messrs. J. H. Hind and R. Hampson (churchwardens), J. R. Shaw, W. Rowson, W. Hind, T. M. Blythe, H. Bell, J. Highton, J. Hay, T. R. Golborne, V. King, T. Royden, J. Overend, T. Houghton, Gate, Esqrs., &c. The church was crowded. The prayers were offered up by the Rev. Mr. Graham, and the lessons were read by the Venerable Archdeacon Jones, in an impressive manner. The Lord Bishop chose for his text the 54th Psalm, part of the fith verso, offering of a free heart will I give thee,” from which he preached an eloquent and impressive discourse. His lordship said that the spirit of true religion, in all times and in all places, was the offering of a true and willing heart. It was in this spirit that the faithful servants of God acted under the old dispensation, in the times of Moses and of David —in the days when the tabernacle was erected in the wilderness, and when the temple was built in Jerusalem. The same principle of free, voluntary gifts for God’s service, for the maintenance of his minister and for the glory of his name, had continued to prevail amongst Christians under that dispensation of grace under which we were blessed. the time when churches were built in this land all the property of the country was, comparatively speaking, in the hands of few. There was large upper class of powerful landholders, to whom all the property belonged, and all the people in the country were more or less dependent upon them; but happily the persons who held this great mass of property in their hands were sensibly alive to the responsibility which property always brought with it. They felt it to be their duty to make a proper provision for the public worship of God throughout the land, and for the religious instruction of the people. Accordingly, they built churches on their estates-they placed resident ministers in those churches—and they provided for their maintenance by a fixed and permanent endowment, and thus they gave in that way a perpetuity to their own acts to make that provision reach beyond their own time, down to our own age and time, and be trusted, through God’s blessing, it would last for generations to come, and as long as the world would last, conferring a benefit upon our services, the ministers, and the people. A voluntary free offering was, after all, at the very root of everything connected with our church. It was what had originated our church establishment. No doubt it was in this way in which the church of that parish in which they had then met was built. But in the long course of time the church that stood there had become, as everything will become in the course of time, very much dilapidated—he believed he might say dangerous an unsafe—so that it was found necessary to take it down to the foundation, and rebuild the body of the church from the ground. That had been done in a way that was very gratifying and delightful to every Christian heart, and he begged to say that it had given great delight to his own heart. The churchwardens of the parish had exerted themselves in a most zealous and indefatigable way to get the good work accomplished. He knew that was not the place for any man to waste the time of a congregation in empty com pliments—God forbid that they should so forget what had brought them to his sanctuary ; but he thought it right for a Christian people, and especially for the bishop of the diocese, to express his grateful sense of what the churchwardens and the many friends in the neighbourhood had done to build the church. Now, the funds for the restoration of the church had been provided by that voluntary principle of which lie had spoken. The greater proportion of the required sum had been most kindly given by that most excellent gentleman who was the greatest landed proprietor in the parish. He was not a resident; but he had shown that had a kind and benevolent heart. He had furnished more than one-half of the whole expense that had been incurred. The other part of the expense had been raised by voluntary contributions from many kind residents in that place, and from some friends who did not live within the parish. His lordship wished to speak in grateful terms of what had been done by them. They had given freely, largely, liberally; the great landed proprietor had given munificently; and he hoped that Almighty God would bless and accept their gifts. _ It was not, however, the magnitude of the gift at which God looked it was at the gift from the heart. If it was the offering of free, willing heart, however small it might be, it would be sure to bring down God’s blessing in return. It was a great pleasure to him to see the church so beautifully restored. All this part (the body of the church) had been rebuilt from the foundation, apparently in the most solid and substantial manner, and all the internal arrangements of the church had been greatlv changed and improved. The ornamental architecture of the external walls had been also greatly improved; but he owned that it was a pleasure to himself and his friends, as one approached the place from a distance, to find that the church still looked something like its former self. There was still the old tower standing firmly as before, with its sober-tinted stones, recognised as an object long familiar and always welcome to the eye. He hoped that the church would long stand, not only as an ornament in the landscape, but to be a source and centre of spiritual blessings, of spiritual life, and comfort to all the families mat dwelt within the bounds of the parish. His_ lordship then made an earnest appeal to the congregation on behalf of the funds which were still required to meet the expenses of rebuilding the church. The money was not wanted to pay for any of the ornamental parts, for most of them had been the gifts individuals, and had not been included in the building fund. The beautiful window at the east of the church was a gift of two gentlemen—one of them the brother of the churchwarden, Mr. Hind ; the other a younger gentleman (Mr. Blythe} resident in the parish, and who took a great interest in the parish, and be trusted that God would j bless him. After sneaking in high terms of the ministraj tions of the Rev. Mr. Graham in the parish, he enforced the principle that all our gifts and contributions ought to come from a free and willing heart. i After the sermon a collection was made, which amounted ' to £2B 14a. The service having been finished, the Lord Bishop, accom- , Kfd by the Venerable Archdeacon Jones, the Rev. Mr. am, and other gentlemen interested in the prosperity of Bidston Church, adjourned to the residence of Mr. J. H. Hind, I Claughton-park,and partook of luncheon. On their route to the dwelling of the wortny churchwarden, the company passed through Bidston-park and Claughton-park, and his lordship : expressed himself highly pleased with those beautiful grounds. I Sermons will be preached in this church to-morrow(Sundaj; the Rev. W. F. Taylor, of St. John’s, in this town, and the Rev, Or, Blakeney, Christ Church, Claughton.


Accessed 8th May 2018

Bidston Village