Seghill church does not feel as if it is in Seghill – you drive through the town, waving at the Methodists well located on the main street, cross the level crossing on the freight line, turn left at the P&G roundabout, and find the church down the end of a lane – NZ296751. You can buy a 24 page “Short History of Seghill Parish” or a longer “History of Seghill Parish” – I went for the short version! This was a huge mining area in the C19 and the parish of Earsdon had eight townships, but only the parish church of St Alban and a family chapel for Lord Hastings beside Seaton Delaval Hall. Between 1827 and 1845 the nonconformists had established 14 chapels in the parish … . Time for the Anglicans to fight back!
In 1846 the Reverend Thomas Henry Bunbury was appointed as “Perpetual Curate”. He worked with the Carr family who owned Seghill Colliery to raise the money and appointed John and Benjamin Green of Newcastle to be architects. The church opened in 1849 – they worked quickly in those days. By 1902 there was a vicar, two curates, two lay readers, a lay worker and a Church Nurse. Note the “f” on the pew – free sitting, anyone can sit here, no one has paid for this pew.
The church was refurbished in 1910 – apparently it reopened for Harvest festival. “By evensong two harvest mice had manage to damage a new white altar frontal”. World War 1 saw some stagnation in the coal trade as the Baltic closed to shipping, 100 miners were recruited from Seghill Colliery, and church going dropped. The altar table and oak panelling are a war memorial, and there is another for the Co-op and the school.
The Miners’ Strike of 1926 and the depression were not easy times, then their vicar died just before the start of the Second World War. His replacement did not have good health either. Mr Purdon came in 1947 and served until 1965. During this time the area changed, less mining more dormitory, and two of the four churches in the parish closed. For about a decade in the late 60s early 70s there were lots of plans to build one new church, presumably closing this one. Eventually minds changed, the new meeting room was added to this church, and life continued. More recently, a good disabled ramp has been added – and a new kitchen is planned.
Some lovely furniture – presumably Robert Thompson. I do find the emergency escape sign a bit silly – is it really necessary? (They are in good company – Historic Royal Palaces have plastered similar signs either side of the royal throne in the Banqueting House at Whitehall).
Now Father Phil does a 9 am here and a 10.30 am in Holywell. They have produced an excellent leaflet “Re-joicing, Re-newing, Re-dedicating; Churches fit for Parish” which was recently delivered to every house in the parish, and they have enjoyed a Mission Weekend.
You flick through the magazine, idily counting the number of baptisms (3 in June), weddings (1), and funerals (12). Then you note that one of those who died was aged three weeks and one day – may Darcey rest in peace, and may her parents find strength and comfort.