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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Erected on the hill above Cinderford Bridge

_Curates_.--David Jones, M.A., Oxon.; --- Dixon, B.A., Oxon.; --- Revel, M.A., Camb.; --- Stewart, M.A., Camb.; --- Mountfort, M.A., Oxon.; --- Malpas, M.A.; --- Cardew, B.A.; --- Ponton, B.A.

[Picture: St. John's Church and Schools, Cinderford]

The next effort made to meet the spiritual wants of the increasing population of the Forest was commenced by Edward Protheroe, Esq., M.P., who erected and opened, July 1, 1840, "on Cinderford Tump, where the old holly grew," large and substantial school-buildings, for the benefit of the families connected with his adjacent collieries, and consigned them to the care of Mr. Zachariah Jolly as their master, an office which he ably filled for several years. The attendance was large, sometimes exceeding 280 children of both sexes. In the first seventeen years, to July, 1857, nearly 1,400 young persons were admitted into the schools, at ages ranging from four to twenty-two years. There was also an evening school for adults, some winters numbering ninety, patronized by the South Wales Railway Company, who subscribed liberally to it. By the Act of July, 1842, dividing the Forest into ecclesiastical districts, its south-east section was constituted one of them, and a stipend of 150 pounds per annum provided for the minister, so soon as the church intended for it should be built and consecrated. Aided by large donations from the Crown, Charles Bathurst, Esq., the Rev. Dr. Warneford, and others, the new church, erected on the hill above Cinderford Bridge, at a cost of 3,109 pounds, in the Early Pointed style of Gothic architecture, on the plan of a Latin cross, with a belfry turret, and capable of seating 800 persons, was consecrated under the name of St. John the Apostle, by Bishop Monk, on the 22nd of October, 1844. There was a large attendance of clergy, and upwards of 1,100 persons were present, many others being unable to obtain admission into the church. The Rev. R. Davies preached from St. Matt. xii. 34. The Rev. T. G. Smythies, who had been residing for some time in the district, became the first incumbent. This appointment he continues to hold, and by the aid of the Crown, the late Bishop Monk, Dr. Warneford, and the Gally Knight Fund, has built an excellent parsonage conveniently adjoining the church.

Following the course of ecclesiastical and educational progress in the Forest, it only remains to record the most recent step taken, namely, that at Lydbrook. The erection of a church there, although contemplated for several years previously, was deferred for some time, until the assiduous exertions of the Rev. J. Burdon, and the munificent donation of 2,000 pounds from Mr. Machen and his relatives, secured its accomplishment. {172} The cost of the building, including the site, which lies on the north-east slope of the Lydbrook Valley, close to the original school-room, was 3,500 pounds, to which the following public bodies thus contributed:

Her Majesty's Commissioners of 250 pounds Woods, &c. ,, Church Building 100 Commissioners Incorporated Society 230 Diocesan ditto 200 ---- 780 pounds

The rest was given by private persons, the principal being Messrs. Allaway and Partridge, who contributed 250 pounds.

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