An Amazing Find

Liz Randall of the South Petherton History Society heard on the 21st February 2017, that a 'time capsule' had been found at Castle Reclamation (at Parrett Works, Martock). A stone-cutter found it whilst cutting up a large stone with a weathered inscription on one side; he removed a sealed glass bottle from the cavity and took rolled pieces of paper from the bottle. Although the papers were in a very poor state, he could see they related to the South Petherton Methodist Circuit. A friend of hers in Stoke told her about the find, which has also been reported to the press. 

Liz went with Sheila and Ron Kenway to view and photograph some of the scraps of paper, to see whether she could find out any more about the building in which the stone had been inserted and what people intended by putting the capsule in the stone.  Little did they know the circumstances in which it would be found 137 years later!

Two newspapers in the bottle had a name in the corner, 'John Nicholls, Gas Works', who Liz subsequently found in the 1881 and1891 censuses as the resident manager of Crewkerne Gas Works.  Also, studying the worn and cut lettering on the outside of the stone, you can just see 'Crewkerne'. So Liz asked Terry Dance at Castle Reclamation if he knew whether the stone could have come from somewhere 'Methodist' in Crewkerne.  He can recall getting some stone from the demolition of the Methodist Church extension; and stored it in his yard for use later. He thinks it must have been there for 15 or more years.  Of course he had no idea that there was a time capsule in one piece of stone, until they came to cut it this week.

The items which Liz saw there were: 

The 'capsule' bottle with a stopper and sealing wax on top  

A letter dated 1864 asking supporters for funds to clear SP Circuit's debt so they could afford a third preacher.

A "Chapel Debt Scheme" poster from 1867 about public meetings in the SP Circuit 

(Scraps of) an architect's plan of a building (possibly the church extension?)

(Scraps of) a written description or specification for the construction of a building

Two newspapers dated June 4th 1880, "The Methodist" and "The Methodist Recorder", both with John Nicholls name in the top corner

A newspaper dated Tuesday June 8th 1880, 'Pulmans Weekly News' 

A sheet showing 'Plan of Wesleyan Methodist Services for the South Petherton Circuit' for the quarter ending July 18th 1880.

 

Liz kindly photographed the items and got in touch with Crewkerne Methodist Church. 

Here are more images of the items found in the capsule, and the stone in which it was found. 

The report of finding the capsule is on Castle Reclamation's Facebook page. Also on newspaper websites: 

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/stonemason-finds-150-year-old-9905726 

http://metro.co.uk/2017/02/23/stonemason-makes-incredible-19th-century-discovery-after-finding-secret-chamber-6468205/

Castle Reclamation have since returned the items to Crewkerne Methodist Church 


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