No. 423 - The Bell Post Hill Church at Cressy - "In a twinkling the church was emptied"

Cressy is small country town south of Longford which was established in the 1840’s. Its name is derived from the ‘Cressy Company’ which was formed in England in the 1820’s to run large agricultural farms in the colony. There were only two churches established at Cressy (a Wesleyan-Methodist and an Anglican church) but up to 6 churches were established in the hamlets of the surrounding district. Most of these have disappeared leaving little record. The Bell Post Hill church, which lay about a kilometre south of the town (situated on Woodburn Lane), was demolished well over a century ago and no trace of it remains.

The only significant reference to this church is found in an article in the Daily Telegraph from 1904, by which time the church had already been demolished:

“The first Anglican church at Cressy dates back many years ago, and - was situated at Bell Post Hill. Services were held in a house erected there by Mr William Brumby, which he presented to the church, additions being made to it as the needs of the district increased”.

"Nothing remains of the old building now, but the spot where it stood still retains the name of 'Bell Post Hill.’ An incident regarding the church may be recalled; it occurred on Sunday morning over sixty years ago during the sermon, when a whisper, went round that [William] Priest, the bushranger, had been captured, wounded, and was then being brought down the road in a cart. In a twinkling the church was emptied, and this was the only occasion known that ever the Rev. Davis, who was loved by all, preached to empty benches”.


The reliability of the source is somewhat questionable as it is based on local memory but the reference to the bushranger William Priest and Reverend Davies enables the incident mentioned to be dated to 1845. Reverend R.R. Davies was rector at nearby Longford between 1830 and 1853 and served the district around Cressy. A report in the Cornwall Chronicle in 1845 mentions the capture of the bushranger William Priest:

“The capture of the notorious bushranger, William Priest, who has kept the country in a state of alarm for nearly four years, is a source of satisfaction to the residents in the interior”.

The church, (or converted house) was probably established in the late 1830’s or early 1840’s and the building may have existed up until the late 19th century. The image used in this entry is used for illustrative purposes only and the photograph below shows the approximate site of the church.

No image of the Bell Post Hill Church exists.  Illustration Duncan Grant 2019

The approximate site of the church near Woodburn Lane outside Cressy - Photograph- Duncan Grant 2019

Sources:

The Cornwall Chronicle, Saturday 27 September 1845
Daily Telegraph, Monday 25 January 1904, page 7 

A Guide to The Churches and Graveyards of the Norfolk Plains - Compiled by Ivan Badcock, et. al. - The Northern Midlands Council (undated)



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