MEMORY LANE: Laying the foundation for a new Buxton church

The laying of the foundation stone for St Mary's Church, Buxton, by the Duchess of Devonshire, in May 1915.
The laying of the foundation stone for St Mary's Church, Buxton, by the Duchess of Devonshire, in May 1915.

A milestone in the history of a Buxton church has been reached this week as it celebrates the centenary of its foundation.

As the photographs show, a large crowd gathered in Dale Road on Wednesday May 26, 1915, to watch Evelyn Mary, the Duchess of Devonshire, lay the foundation stone of St Mary’s Church.

Crowds gather for a ceremony to mark the laying of the foundation stone for St Mary's Church, Buxton, by the Duchess of Devonshire, in May 1915.

Crowds gather for a ceremony to mark the laying of the foundation stone for St Mary's Church, Buxton, by the Duchess of Devonshire, in May 1915.

Important state business had prevented his Grace from performing the ceremony, the Buxton Advertiser of Saturday May 29, 1915, reported.

According to the paper: “Ideal weather was associated with the happy occasion, and the very numerous attendance of clergy and laity present was eloquent testimony of the deep personal concern that is felt in the project that has grown so wonderfully during the present Vicariate.”

A “striking procession” to the site was led by Mr B Simpson carrying the Cross, followed by various clergy and church choirs.

The church replaced a temporary building of wood, with a tin roof, which was constructed in 1897.

The old St Mary's Church, circa 1906.

The old St Mary's Church, circa 1906.

Work continued during the First World War, but it is reported that at one time only an elderly man and a boy were working on the site, with a cart drawn by a horse called Fanny.

The Duchess, in laying the foundation stone, said: “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we lay this corner-stone of a church to be dedicated to the perpetual service of Almighty God.”

In a cavity in the foundation stone was placed, it was reported, a bottle containing silver coins of the realm for 1915, the current number of the parish magazine, and copies of the local and daily papers, also a short account of the origin and history of the church.

Building work was eventually completed two years later, and plans are being drawn up to mark the centenary of its opening in 2017.

Meanwhile, the church will be holding its annual garden party on Saturday June 27, as well as hosting a number of concerts for the Buxton Festival Fringe in July.

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