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  • Diana Wells

Heating problems in St Mary’s 100 years ago

Heating the large space enclosed in stone walls and with metal-frame windows has been a cause of much angst and expense in most church buildings over the years. So here are some excerpts from the Parish Magazines of 100 years ago when the Vicar, Rev. Prebendary Henry Prosser, wrote: We greatly deplore the discomfort which the congregation has suffered during the severe winter (i.e.1916-17) which we have experienced.


In July 1917 he added, I and the Churchwardens much regret that during War time we should be compelled to make an appeal to the Parishioners for a somewhat larger capital outlay, but all who worship at the Parish Church will agree that the need is pressing. The heating apparatus in the Parish Church was put there some fifty years ago and is completely worn out. The result is that many people cannot attend the Church, and those who do are in great discomfort; last winter not a few of the congregation may fairly attribute serious illnesses to this cause, the Church being little better than an ice-house”. 


In August, an appeal was made for contributions towards the estimated cost from Rosser & Russell of £240, plus builders' charges,[1] such that in February 1918 he was able to write: We hope the congregation will find the new heating apparatus satisfactory. We are glad to say that sufficient funds are in hand to meet the expenditure”. And in December the heating of the church was further improved by the addition of an anthracite stove “kindly given by our generous friend, Mr Watkins”. The latter lived in Heatham House in the London Road and was Churchwarden from 1902 to 1920.




And the company archives at The National Archives, Kew.



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