As the day draws closer, arrangements to celebrate Wentworth’s St John’s Anglican Church’s 150th anniversary next Sunday, May 23 are in full swing.
Memorabilia in the form of old wedding photos, newspaper clippings sourced from the archives in Wagga Wagga and even a baptismal gown worn by Wentworth resident Jenny Wheeldon, circa 1940s, has been loaned for the historical display being set up on the day for people to view.
People will also be on hand to explain what the different places in the church are, including the baptismal font, the alter, the pulpit, the bell and the prisoner’s pews! Local legend has it that if prisoners wished to attend church, they would sit at the back of the church in the ‘enclosed’ pews.
Prisoners who were being held in the area, even dating back to before the building of the Wentworth Gaol was completed in 1881, regularly went to church, no doubt seeking redemption.
There are some other fascinating stories relating to the church’s history, with a great mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the original foundation stone, laid in 1871, by visiting Judge Francis.
The foundation stone for the Anglican Church of St. John the Evangelist in Wentworth has been an ongoing mystery for some time, as the foundation stone, complete with inscription, cannot be found.
Numerous references in historical records to its existence have been found, but no detail on its actual location.
Historical records from the Regional Archive revealed a call for information about the position of the foundation stone in a 1954 newsletter; no new information appeared to come to light.
Further to that, there is a time capsule buried at the church and it is said to be where the foundation stone was moved to or covered over many years ago when rectification works were carried out after a big flood damaged the building.
The Wentworth Historical Society has provided materials from their records, and in a newspaper article in the Adelaide Observer of May 27, 1871 were the words:
“A bottle containing a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald of the day, a copy of the Adelaide Advertiser, and two silver coins, was placed beneath the stone”, but no indication as to where the stone was laid.
A metal detector has been employed with no results.
There are some great activities planned for the Sunday from 10am.
The blessing of the new commemorative foundation stone and a church service will be held at 3pm, which will be conducted by Griffith based Bishop, Donald Kirk, who is visiting from the Archdiocese of Riverina.
No event would be complete without the wonderful contribution made by the ladies of the CWA, who will be hosting one of their famous morning teas.
The local scouts will be running a fundraising barbecue, there will be live music, and the Wentworth Makers will be holding a market in the church grounds as well. It promises to be a lovely occasion and everyone is welcome.
Anyone with memorabilia relating to St John’s Anglican Church is asked to contact Mary-Ann Crisp on 0427 092 509.