Time for historic find as church is refurbished

Janice Faris, minister of Innerleithen Parish Church.

Janice Faris, minister of Innerleithen Parish Church.

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WORKMEN carrying out the major refurbishment at Innerleithen Parish Church made a fascinating discovery when they took away the old pulpit.

On lifting up the three-ton stone base, they found a recess had been cut into the bottom and a metal box placed inside.

Douglas Watt with the time capsule which has been found during the extensive renovation works to Innerleithen parish Church.

Douglas Watt with the time capsule which has been found during the extensive renovation works to Innerleithen parish Church.

Once opened, it turned out to be a time capsule containing a number of historical artefacts dating from the end of the 19th century.

The church’s fabric convener, Douglas Watt, told TheSouthern it was at the beginning of the year that the £500,000 refurbishment works programme began at the church.

“Most the work so far has been on the roof. But when the builders were moving the pulpit base, they came across what has turned out to be a metal box about nine inches by six, with a small slit in the top.

“Once it was opened, we found it contained various items including a selection of newspapers from the day the capsule was buried, which was March 30, 1889.

“There were copies of the Peeblesshire and County Advertiser, the Glasgow Herald and the Scotsman, as well as the Scottish Border Record and the Scottish Leader.

“There was also various coins and several sermons.

“But how they got all that into a box that size is a bit of a mystery. They must have really had to squash them in and then solder it shut, I would think.”

Mr Watt says the plan is to have the newspapers copied before

reburying the capsule in the church, together with a modern equivalent.

The church minister, the Reverend Janice Faris, said that is something local schoolchildren could be involved with.

“It would be nice to match all the items in the time capsule with their modern equivalents – including a copy of The Southern Reporter, naturally!” she said.

“It is hoped to have a small rededication ceremony for the church about the beginning of September, so we would probably be looking to rebury the time capsule and a new one some time in the autumn.

“It would also be nice to include something unique to our times so that people in perhaps a hundred years’ time would find that interesting.

“It is perhaps a project that we can involve local scholchildren with.”

It is hoped the church will reopen about the end of July when services will be held again, while the internal work progresses over the next few years.