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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Procter was himself answerable


free and open to all. It now became my duty," observes Mr. Procter, "to secure to the Foresters in perpetuity these extraordinary blessings which Divine Providence was progressively granting to them. This could only be done by consecration, and to authorize such an act, an endowment being considered necessary, another public appeal was made in June, 1813, for assistance to place amongst these poor people a clergyman who would not only publicly preach, but reside, privately visit their cottages, disseminate the Scriptures, and assist the master of the National School in impressing upon the minds of the children the principles of the Christian religion," as, "without a resident clergyman, an experience of fourteen years convinced him that all efforts would prove abortive. It had likewise become necessary to discontinue using the chapel as a school-room, since the doing so had been found to lessen the reverence due to the sanctuary in the minds both of the parents and children. A new schoolroom was therefore immediately built of the best stone, with two fireplaces, and a partition in the middle; over the door is the following inscription,--'The Forest Day School, for Boys and Girls, on the National plan, established 1812, supported by voluntary subscriptions.'" The cost of erection was almost 300 pounds, and the expenses of conducting the school averaged about 70 pounds per annum, for two-thirds of which Mr. Procter was himself answerable, and only dependent on annual donations.

With the view of forming such an endowment for the church as would make it eligible for consecration, a freehold estate near at hand was purchased in the month of November, 1816, although the price of it exceeded the sum subscribed by 200 pounds, but which amount it was expected the Parliamentary Commissioners would repay. Thomas Morgan's house, garden, buildings, and lands adjoining the chapel were also purchased for nearly 400 pounds, the former being partly preserved in the back part of the present parsonage-house. Thus the property appropriated to the new church consisted at this time of the five acres of Crown land, the purchased freehold, and Thomas Morgan's property, on which, as an ecclesiastical endowment, the consecration of the church, under the name of Christ Church, took place, on Wednesday, 7th July, 1816, by Bishop Ryder, and was duly conveyed to the following gentlemen as trustees, viz., the Right Honourable N. Vansittart, Lord Calthorpe, James Jenkins, George Baring, T. T. Biddulph, Esqrs.; Reverends J. Hensman and E. Mansfield.

[Picture: Christ Church, Berry Hill]

The body of the building forms a parallelogram 50 feet by 42 feet; the tower, upwards of 60 feet high, was built some years afterwards, at a cost of 1,000 pounds. Unfortunately, serious inconvenience ensued to Mr. Procter by his having caused the whole of the above-named endowment property to be conveyed to the church previous to its consecration, since, on presenting the memorial to the Board for the payment of the accustomed Parliamentary grant, the case was pronounced "irregular," rendering Mr. Procter liable to a debt of 950 pounds, although 500 pounds of the amount was eventually paid by Pyncombe's Charity and Queen Anne's Board. The sum of 2,000 pounds was granted, however, by the Parliamentary Board to be laid out in the purchase of land, yielding in the mean time an interest of 4 pounds per cent., and raising the total income of the living to 118 pounds 10s. 6d., or thereabouts. Mr. Procter died on the 8th May, 1822, aged 52, worn out by excessive devotion to his pastoral duties, and was succeeded by the Rev. T. R. Garnsey, who, after a life of similar usefulness, expired in March, 1847. His funeral sermon was preached on Sunday, the 14th of March, by the Rev. H. Poole, from Hebrews xii. 2. The church was densely crowded, many could not obtain an entrance, and all appeared deeply to feel the loss they had sustained.


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