The following is a copy of an article extracted from the Somerset & Wilts Journal of 28th August 1858, by Cecil Smith who lived at Gaer Hill from his birth in 1904 until his death in 2002. The old church stood on the site of the Old School House and was thatched. Although still marked on the OS map as a church, the building is now a private residence.
Consecration of the new Church 24th August 1858
On Tuesday last this little collection of cottages which bears the name of a village only by courtesy and which is known to most of our readers only by a report of an extensive fire unprecedented in the memory of the oldest inhabitant. The occasion which drew together such an immense assemblage of people ( about 600 ) so the villagers thought them to be was no less than the consecration, by the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells of the New Church and Burial Ground with which they have just been blessed. Six miles to the south of Frome and just within the border of Somerset, stands which is henceforth to be known as the Church of St Michael, a building boasting of four stone walls with an abundance of freestone garniture, a steeple and an overwhelming mass of red tiles which can be seen from a great distance. With the latter material it is of the opinion of many that the church is overdone, but time will soften it down. The interior of the Church is neat and effective, containing as usual a font, a pulpit, a chancel and choristers seats, also a handsome stained glass window, representing Christ Blessing little children presented by Lady Bath. It is fitted with seats designed conveniently to seat 150 persons, as many probably as ever will be assembled in any one time.
Tuesday was looked forward to by the cottagers with eager anticipation and many preparations had been made. The parties who in every species of conveyance, from my “Lords Carriage” to a farm wagon, wended their way up the hill, passed under arches of evergreens inscribed “Welcome”, none the less real and hearty because the letters were askew and every post and gate was crowned with flowers and branches. At half past eleven the service commenced by a procession through the ground, comprising the Bishop, 24 of the neighbouring clergy and the lay clerks of Frome who had come over to assist the local choir in conducting the musical portion of the service.
On entering the Church the Bishop commenced by the solemn words of the 24th Psalm “The earth is the Lords,etc” which was recited as the procession advanced through the Church to the Chancel. The ordinary service of consecration was then gone through, the Bishop reading the principal portion, assisted by the Hon and Rev R Boyle, the Rev Mr Giles, the Rev Mr Meade and the choir who conducted the musical part of the service in a manner highly pleasing especially to the rustic villagers. The deeds conveying the title of the premises were read. The sermon (was) delivered by the Bishop was attentively listened to. His text was 2nd Chronicles, chapter 7 verse 12 “And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice”.
At the close of the service, the Communion was partaken of by the distinguished company present and the clergy among whom was recognised the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Cork and Orrery and the Countess, the Rev. R Boyle, his lady and family and the Rev Messrs William of Horrington, Horner of Mells, Dr Griffith of Elm, Meade and Carick of Castle Cary, Brown of Witham Friary and Daniel, De Gex, Horton, Dove and Bradford of Frome. The Bishop and clergy then walked the Burial Ground from which a magnificent view is obtained in procession chanting psalms and the ceremony concluded by a hymn and the benediction.
In the afternoon 140 of the poor of the place sat down to a hearty dinner provided in a tent in a field adjoining by the liberality of the Rev. R Boyle and the day was spent in sports and pleasures.
We believe the cost of erection is £1300
Foundation Stone Laid October 1857