Each month we produce a magazine, "The Over Alderley and Birtles Monthly Messsenger", this being the title used for the first parish magazine produced from 1892 to 1908 by the second Vicar of Birtles, The Revd Henry Waldron Bradley.
Here are some snippets ...
More than 100 years ago ...
July 1901 saw Mr Bradley writing at some length about the confirmation service which had been held at Prestbury. Birtles had an unusually high number of candidates, fifteen male and eleven female. The weather that summer had been very good and the day of the service was no exception.
The Messengers written by Mr Bradley give us a privileged insight into the parish at the end of the 19th and the start of the 20th centuries, recording both the happy and sad times. They also make us realise that life even for the well-to-do was not always easy and illnesses that are readily treatable nowadays could and did easily take lives of both young and old.
Those of us interested in the history of the church building read reports of things from the past that frustrate as we know so little about them. For example, what was the stove which heated the church before the central heating and was taken out of the church for the summer? Plans show it placed in front of the chancel in a line between the pulpit and the vicar’s stall - not the most convenient place!
The July 1901 Messenger has an equally intriguing item ...
"Worshippers at Birtles will doubtless notice an improvement - the addition of six old oak panels three of which are placed in the pulpit. The oak, which is beautifully carved, has been rescued from an old doorway which used to lead into the vestry, but has been lying idle since the heating apparatus was put in."
That raises the question where did the other three go? The earliest known photographs of the interior of the church are from 1908 and so no help. It is easy to assume that the church remained just as it was when built in 1840, but we know that isn’t so as there had been several re-orderings not least the removal of the stairs which led up from the nave to the west gallery. The last major change was around 1910 when the present baptistery was formed from the remains of the private pew. That meant the font could be moved from where it was placed (inconveniently) in the middle of the nave.
Wouldn’t it be fascinating if we could just pop back for a few days to see for ourselves?