Chance discovery leads to 124-year-old trowel’s return to Haverhill

Christopher Gurteen, right, holds the trowel as he stands next to the foundation stone. With him is Rev Leslie Shorten

Christopher Gurteen, right, holds the trowel as he stands next to the foundation stone. With him is Rev Leslie Shorten


A trowel that was presented to a prominent figure in Haverhill at the laying of a church’s foundation stone has passed back into his family again - 124 years later.

The silver trowel was given to Daniel Gurteen Junior JP on November 19, 1890 after he laid the stone at what is now the West End Congregational Church in Withersfield Road.

Where it subsequently went is something of a mystery, but a few weeks ago Mr Guteen’s great great nephew, Christopher Gurteen, was told by a friend that he had spotted a number of items connected to the family name in an auction lot.

Mr Gurteen takes up the story: “What happened was, It was put into an auction and I only had one days notice so I just bid for the thing.

“I got it together with some other stuff but I only wanted the trowel.”

The building that the foundation stone was laid for by Daniel Gurteen Junior was the beginning of the construction of the new Market Hill Sunday School rooms.

At the same time the stone was laid about 50 Sunday school teachers and scholars also laid bricks, inscribed with their initials, around the stone. They can clearly be seen today.

The school rooms were soon followed by the adjoining church, which opened on May 18, 1891 and was renamed the West End Congregational Church because at that time the buildings stood at what was then the extremity of the western side of Haverhill.

Rev Leslie Shorten, the Minister for West End Congregational Church explained that the church was born when a group broke away from the Old Independent Church in Hamlet Road and started meeting in a room adjacent to the Bell Hotel.

The Gurteen family then built the Market Hill Chapel in what is now Chapmans & Son.

The congregation soon outgrew the chapel and, with the help of funding from the Gurteens, the new Sunday School room and church were built in Withersfield Road.

Now it is back home, the trowel will be displayed in the museum at the Gurteen factory site in Weavers Mill.

Mr Gurteen said: “It’s just nice to get it back into the family. I’m going to try and find out where it came from because it could have been lost member of the family.”




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