Victorian time capsule arrives safely in the present day

There was more than the usual measure of enthusiasm at theGeneral Church Meeting at Lichfield Methodist Church recently. Theroutine business was interrupted by the arrival of a time capsulefrom 1891 that had been unearthed during building work. The glassjar contained newspapers, church documents and coins.

The capsule was discovered by builders repairing stonework onthe church and was opened for the first time in over 100 years atthe General Church Meeting on 3 May. Rev. John Atkinson,superintendent of the Tamworth and Lichfield District, was amazedto find a collection of papers and coins that had remained hiddenthroughout the whole of the 20th century.

The glass jar contained two local newspapers - the LichfieldMercury and the Lichfield Herald and City Times -dated Friday 7 August 1891. There was also a copy of theMethodist Recorder dated 6 August 1891. Three coins - apenny, halfpenny and farthing - also carried the 1891 date. Thefinal items were a copy of the local preaching plan for the Circuitand a list of the Trustees.

Mr Atkinson says that the capsule was buried when work began onbuilding the church. The Mayor of Lichfield laid the foundationstone for the church on 12 August 1891, and it has served thepeople of the town since.

When the capsule was buried, Queen Victoria was on the throne,the prime minister was Marquis of Salisbury and Blackburn Rovershad recently won the FA Cup. 1891 was also the year when the firsttelephone link between London and Paris was opened, and whenprimary education was made free and compulsory. 

The church plans to return the capsule to its hiding place afteradding some modern documents. Says Mr Atkinson: "We hope that somefuture generation of Methodists will discover it again, and thatthey will share our delight and fascination about what the past canreveal."