On 13th September 2015, St Anne's Church celebrated the 150th Anniversary of the dedication of the church building. 2015 was a hectic year and began with a team of 5 people planning events to celebrate 150 years of worship at St Anne’s . The first event planned was an exhibition of memorabilia through the ages. Both the local community and people who had enjoyed connections with the church were encouraged to bring photographs and other resources to add to the displays. The exhibition was held from Monday 27th July until Friday 18th September. People were able to visit Monday to Saturday between 10am to 1pm each week. Displays included items from the local mining industry, of which Chasetown owes its existence. A piece of the original cable that fed electricity to the church from ‘The Fly’ coal mine at the west end of Church Street in 1883 is part of the churches heritage. (This had been salvaged when excavation work was carried out several years ago.) Although disputed, many local people claim St Anne’s Church was the first church in the country to be lit with electricity. It is reported that the power was very weak and only gave a glimmer of light.
One room in the church was temporarily known as the ‘Wedding Room’ because it housed items from weddings and baptisms that had taken place at St Anne’s Church throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries. The church was first licensed to hold marriage ceremonies in the late 1880’s and a certificate of one of the first couples to get married at St Anne’s in the late 19th Century was exhibited. This was the wedding of Mr and Mrs Hindley, whose Great Great Grand-daughter is a regular member of St Anne’s congregation. Mrs Hindley was a talented seamstress and below is a photograph of a coat she made. Notice the embroidery on the coat sleeve and also the lace at the hem of the christening robe.
A display of one of our church members showed his talented gift of straw work. You can see below some of the items he has made. Can you spot a chess board, 3D pictures and celebration cards, and a straw boater? This is only just a few of the magnificent items on display.
A further display was of the crafts made by The Quilting/Sewing Group who meet on Tuesday afternoons in the church and enjoy doing a variety of items. Sometimes their skills are to make things for their own use, but most of the time the items made are sold for charity or are requests from people who pay for them and the money raised is for St Anne’s Church funds. At the moment the items being made are to be sold at the church’s Christmas Market.
Another exhibition showed the artistic talents of local people who attend the Art class held in church on Monday afternoons.
There were also photographs of the robed choir through the years. Until 1940 the choir was boys and gentlemen, but in 1940 ladies were allowed to join the men. Later in the late 1980’s the first girl choristers proudly took their place in the choir stalls. The church organ is the original Walker Organ built in 1864. Although damaged when the roof caught fire in 1950 and had to have some restoration work carried out, it wasn’t until 2004/5 that total refurbishing was needed at a cost of £28 thousand. The organ was rededicated on the 12th March 2005 by The Venerable Chris Liley, (Archdeacon of Lichfield). Paul Spicer, a well known organist and composer, honoured St Anne’s when he came and played a recital on the organ at the rededication.
On Sunday 13th September a special service commemorated the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Consecration of St Anne’s Church as a place of worship and the re-dedication of the New Roof. The service was conducted by The Right Reverend Clive Gregory, (Bishop of Wolverhampton), which was followed by a tasty lunch. The weather was superb and although the church had hired a marquee, many people were able to sit at tables and chairs in the church grounds. On Monday 14th September, (the actual date of the opening of the church), at 11 0’clock, a short service of prayer took place to mark the actual time and date.
Finally the celebrations concluded with a “Home Grown” talent show on Saturday 20th September. The evening was thoroughly enjoyed by both participants and audience, from the youngest participant to the eldest.
To complete 2015, we are licensing a new Team Vicar at St Anne’s Church. St Anne’s congregation have worked hard and pulled together as a team for more than two years without a vicar and it has not always been easy. We may not have grown in numbers, but we have grown in the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our new Team Vicar, the Reverend Richard Westwood, will be licensed on 5th November at 7pm. We welcome Richard and his wife Rose with their family into our warm and friendly church family.