MSCC logo

Main Street Community Church, Frodsham

: Practice faithful presence

Mystery Slot 2002

January 2002 — Mysterious Happenings

Do you know what it’s all about? Word had gone out that a meeting was to be held in the upstairs room at Main Street Community Church (MSCC). There were no messages left on the notice board. The only ones were by word of mouth. A meeting had been arranged for 17 October at 7.30pm. Who were these people who would be meeting on this night? More to the point, what would they be doing? A suitable case for Miss Marple or Sherlock Holmes. (Well no, not quite!)

During the summer months, I arranged for a series of questions and answers relating to the history of MSCC to be in the news letter. Since completing the quiz, I have discovered that St Dunstan’s was constructed from a kit.

What is it all about? A group of friends had their first meeting last October. What to call the group was possibly first on the agenda. Lyn Fallows came up with the name. He had been asked what the meeting about, “It’s a mystery, really.” That is how the name came about. We’re now called the “Mystery Slot”. What is about to be unravelled will no doubt contain many mysteries. The first meeting went very well indeed.

Ahead of the next meeting on 20 March at 7.30pm, there have been letters printed in the local press with an invitation extended to our friends at St. Laurence who might wish to join us in this venture. It is hoped that at the March meeting we will have someone who can talk to us on copyright.

I will update you on a regular basis through the Chapel magazine. It will be wonderful to discover how the word of the Lord has evolved here in Main Street Community Church. I wonder if Charles Cotton could ever have
envisaged the huge advances that have taken place at Main Street Chapel? It really does make you think just what the next 10 or 15 years might bring. Exciting isn’t it?!

Judith Shore

May 2002 — Mystery Slot Revealed

The second of these occasional meetings was held recently. We are aiming to find out more about the history of our chapel: it was built in 1880 and known as St Dunstan’s. We are asking older people to talk about their memories of the chapel. So far we have heard about the Nativity plays, the choir, church workers and monthly united services held on Churchfields during the Second World War.

We have been investigating the origins of our local church, how the present site became available and why the name St Dunstan’s was chosen.

The church in Frodsham was strong in numbers during the 1940s and 1950s. St Laurence’s supported a Church Army worker, Mr Oates, who often led the worship at St Dunstan’s.

We would like to contact others who were involved at the chapel before the time of the present congregation.

Martin and Margaret Ansdell-Smith

September 2002 — History of the Chapel

Some of us in the “Mystery Slot” have been attempting to find out about the history of St Dunstan’s Church, as Main Street Community Church was formerly known. We have been studying some extracts from old newspapers of the 30’s and 40’s which mention St Dunstan’s.

It is interesting to read about life among the churches in that
period. Various special services that took place at St. Dunstan’s are described, especially the tableaux at Christmas — the equivalent today of a special Christmas Service with the Sunday Clubs all doing ’their bit’.

The church had its own lay reader, Mr A E Oates (affectionately known as Titus), and choirmaster, Percy Jones, with his assistant, Bill Halfpenny. Arthur Turner was the organ pumper. We don’t know if there were regular morning services at the church in the 30’s, there was certainly a Sunday School, but during the war the evening services were transferred from St Lawrence’s, as it could not be blacked out, and continued at St Dunstan’s. Eventually Mr Oates retired and services dwindled, leading to the church closing (either intentionally or unintentionally, but that is another story). At least two churches closed during that time, also for lack of support: The Rock Chapel, which was in what is now the library. Its pews and pulpit were installed in the new Methodist chapel at Blake Lees, Kingsley, and the Bridge Mission, which was down near the Bridge Inn. There seemed to be a fair bit of ’churches together’ including a Free-Church Council which was pleading for more unity between the churches even then, and saying there would be no growth without it. There was even an equivalent of Wellspring, in that during the war both the Parish Church and Trinity ran canteens to feed and entertain Service personnel which were open every day until 10.00pm.

Overall,one gets the impression that church life was not quite so different from today as we might think. But things did not carry on for ever as they were, they had to adapt into what we have today. Maybe this history has some lessons for us for our future.

We hope to publish what we find in a history of the church. Martin Smith is going to make all our material available on a web page. Do come and join us if you would like to join our researches or if you have any historical information for us.

Andrew Faraday on behalf of the “Mystery Slot”

November 2002 — Christmas at St. Dunstan’s

Researching the history of the church that has met in this building, we of the Mystery Slot have read about many activities and events that have taken place over the years. With Christmas approaching, I felt you might be interested in learning how St. Dunstan’s was decorated. Some of us have been studying old copies of Parish Magazines in the County Record Office in Chester. Here are a few example extracts which tell us a bit about St. Dunstan’s (or the Iron Church as it is often called) in the past.

December 1881 Christmas decorations

No pains have been spared to make our Iron Church compete favourably with many of its more elaborate neighbours. It is no mere figure of speech to say that a result has been arrived at, the decorations are quite up to their usual standard of excellence. A large crimson scroll high up on the chancel wall runs the inscription of “There shall come a Star out of Jacob.” Either side of the chancel window on rich flowing streamers are the words “The Word was flesh and dwelt amongst us.” On the aisle wall, the text “The Son of Righteousness shall arise with Healing in His wings” attracts attention by the extreme delicacy of the letters which are all wrought with consummate skill in a mixture of evergreens. At the west end of the Church, on a large scroll is inscribed the words of the Angels of old, “Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy.” The Church was further adorned with bannerettes suspended from the ceiling.’

Baptisms were a little different in the past!

August 1893

’It does not seem generally understood among parents that the sacrament of Holy Baptism is administered at the Iron Church on the 3rd Sunday of every month at a quarter to six, notice being given to the Clergy or the Vicar. In order that no inconvenience may arise, we would ask those bringing children to be baptised at the Iron Church, to be there punctually at the times appointed.’

August 1901

’NB: Parents wishing to have their children baptised at the Iron Church before the service on the 3rd Sunday of the month, are requested to give notice to the Apparitor, Mr Smith, a day or two before in order that he may make the necessary arrangements.’

O, for such attendances, but what about the giving?

October 1898

’On the following Sunday evening the Iron Church was crowded to its utmost capacity, though it can hardly be said that the offerings were in proportion to the numbers present.’ (The collections for all the Sunday evenings in the month totalled £5/2/8)

December 1904

’A week’s mission at the Iron Church. Daily evening services plus two for women on Monday and Thursday which were well attended. A meeting for men on the Wednesday (St Andrew’s Day) with about 400 assembled in the desired to have a similar meeting every year.’

And finally …

August 1905 [and still waiting!]

It is certainly to be wished that a large swimming bath could be made in Frodsham.’

Andrew Faraday on behalf of the Mystery Slot