A forgotten time capsule dating back to 1876 has been discovered by builders beneath a memorial at United Reformed Church in Macclesfield.
The stone jar, containing newspapers, sermons and a photograph of the minister from more than a hundred years ago when the church was built, was discovered under an enormous granite slab during renovation work at the Park Green site.
Minister Marion Tugwood and church archivist Margaret Southern were on hand to dust away the cobwebs and open the tightly sealed jar.
Marion said: "It was so exciting. I was really surprised because we had absolutely no record of it and nobody knew about it. We had no idea what was in it, it could have been anything, gold coins would have been nice! The stonemasons thought it was ashes but I knew it couldn’t be because there would have been a stone. We had a paper expert from Liverpool advising us over the phone because we didn’t want it crumbling when we pulled it out, but it was in really good condition."
The mum-of-two added: "What we found is wonderful, it’s a piece of history. There’s a real sense of history that goes with this building and a number of families have been coming for generations."
Back in 1876, the church was called the Park Green Congregational Church and the jar was secreted away under the memorial stone by the Mayor of Macclesfield Thomas Brocklehurst.
It also contained a poster advertising the grand ceremony, five different newspapers, including the Macclesfield Courier and Herald from September 9, 1876, a photograph of the minister Reverend George Allen, a copy of the first sermon preached there by Rev Samuel Bowen and architect’s drawings of the church.
Marion explained the memorial stone and pod will now be built into a new community building behind the church, along with a new time capsule.
"We are going to put it back and do one of our own, the children are very excited about what we can put in it," she said.
And one day in the distant future this story may be dug up too.
"We will definitely be putting a copy of the Macclesfield Express article in with it so they can find out the story of how we found it," Marion added.
On Saturday, May 8, the newly-renovated church will be open to visitors from 10am until 4pm, and folk band Whitewater will perform with soloist Rebecca Lea for a special celebratory evening from 7.30pm. Tickets cost £8, available from Frasers Travel.
A special church service will take place on Sunday, May 9, at 10.45am.