One hundred and forty years have passed since the spire of Wentworth’s new parish church rose high above the tower of the old church to become a landmark visible for miles around. The building of the new church was begun on June 14th 1873 with the laying of a ‘memorial stone.’ The solemn occasion was described in vivid detail by a local versifier in lines which might well have been written by William McGonagall, of “Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay” fame if it weren’t for the fact that they couldn’t have been. In his autobiography McGonagall, who is widely regarded as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language, said this of himself: “I may say Dame Fortune has been very kind to me by endowing me with the genius of poetry. I remember how I felt when I received the spirit of poetry. It was in the year of 1877, and in the month of June, when trees and flowers were in full bloom.” Strange, then, that it was only a few weeks after that, on July 31st, Wentworth’s new church - a building the laying of whose foundation stone had been recorded in a manner worthy of McGonagall himself, and a the fine examples of English gothic revival architecture - was consecrated by the Archbishop of York.
On Sunday July 31st 1887 the tenth anniversary of the church’s consecration was observed, and the two sermons preached on that day (one of which was quite hard-hitting) have survived. On Sunday July 31st 1898 the church’s ”‘Coming of Age” was celebrated, and a special hymn, probably composed to be sung to the tune of “Onward Christian soldiers” was sung. But neither occasion could compare with the centenary celebrations which ran from June 1st to Sunday July 31st, taking in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee on the way. Those two months will be remembered by many.
This year we shall mark the 140th anniversary of the church’s consecration with a day of celebration and thanksgiving on Sunday July 30th. The preacher at the 10.45 Sung Eucharist will be The Ven. Christopher Cunliffe, Archdeacon of Derby – and a historian. Evensong will be at 4.00pm and, instead of a sermon, will include (weather permitting) the “clipping of the church.” This is an ancient ceremony in which the congregation embraces the church building by completely encircling it. The larger the church the more people are needed to achieve the clipping, and in Wentworth we have a very large church. So please come, and encourage as many as you can, whether residents or visitors, to join the regular congregation in marking this milestone in the life of the village. It’s a good way of showing your love for, and appreciation of, the wonderful building which stands in its midst, and which has been associated over the years with significant events in so many people’s lives.
For most of the day there will an exhibition of plans, photographs, parish magazines, orders of service and other memorabilia (including the above-mentioned poem) connected with Wentworth’s new parish church. Mr Roy Young has kindly made these items available from his extensive collection. The barn at the Rockingham Arms has been reserved by the church for a celebratory Sunday lunch for a maximum of seventy-five people. Further details can be found in church and tickets will be available on a first come first served basis. It should be a day to remember.