What’s Inside the Christ Church Belfry?

first_imgBy Rick GeffkenSHREWSBURY – What’s inside the landmark Christ Church belfry at the Four Corners? Well, there could be bats; certainly spiders; the occasional squirrel; improbably ghosts; a 1-ton bell; and most assuredly, a whole lot of history. The last is because the belfry, or clock tower, of the venerable Shrewsbury landmark is now 144 years-old.The 64-foot tower was built onto the front of the then 100 year-old Episcopal Church in 1874. Both the melodious tolling of its bell, and the simple, yet elegant black clock faces have marked the time, the lives, and the passings of Shrewsbury residents for a century and a half.The weather vane and gilded “orb” sitting atop the church spire have their own special history. During the Revolutionary War militia stationed at the Allen House are said to have taken target practice at this symbol of the British monarch, George III. Christ Church occasionally displays the original damaged orb with what certainly look like musket-ball holes.For the last 70 years, repairs to the clock tower were funded primarily out of church funds. A Monmouth County Historical Commission grant helped with some repair costs about 10 years ago. Since the primary mission of the Christ Church has always been the spiritual care of its parishioners, expensive repairs to the venerable clock tower were incidental concerns.Now, Christ Church is asking the general public to help it complete overdue repairs to the clock tower. Buying a $5 raffle ticket could get you a guided tour of this historic clock tower. Three winners, each with up to two guests, will see four levels of the tower from the inside – the clock’s pendulum, the winding mechanism for the clock and the bell, the shafts that drive the tree clock faces, and the huge bell itself. The raffle is co-sponsored by the Shrewsbury Historical Society and Christ Church. All proceeds from the raffle will go toward the repair and maintenance of the clock.Winners will be drawn at the Monmouth County Historical Association’s annual reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Allen House, 400 Sycamore Ave., at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 4. The bells at Christ Church will be ringing just as they did in 1776 to honor the signing of the Declaration.The Christ Church Community was founded in 1702 by Lewis Morris and William Leeds. Morris went on to become the first Royal Colonial Governor of New Jersey. Leeds bequeathed his huge farm in Middletown to the church. Brookdale Community College was built on part of the Leeds estate.Christ Church itself was actually built with raffle money. The Rev. Samuel Cooke held several lotteries, starting in 1758, to finance a new building. Because New Jersey law banned lotteries, the drawing was held on a Delaware River island. Current Christ Church Historian, Robert Kelly Jr., assures that the 2016 raffle follows all New Jersey State and local legal requirements.The $5 raffle tickets are on sale now at the Christ Church Parish Office. Call 732-741-2220 for more information.last_img

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