Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Reades' ministry: Blackgang and Punrooty

Another Blackgang, Isle of Wight, story: "Mr. Charles Reid, at Blackgang, in the Isle of Wight, is indefatigable in calling the sinner to sobriety.” notes the author of Drink: the Vice and the Disease, in the October 1875 London Quarterly Review. This one-liner spins off into an unusual saga of 19th century missionary activity by unlikely people in unlikely places.

Firstly, the anonymous author of Drink: the Vice and the Disease hasn't fact-checked: it's Charles Reade, not Reid (not to be mistaken for Charles Reade, the novelist and dramatist). A look at the broader story finds that the temperance angle refers to the the Isle of Wight Temperance and Band of Hope Union: the local chapter of a wider 19th century temperance organisation that still exists, rebranded as Hope UK. It wasn't, however, the sole angle of Reade's work, and furthermore his daughters are in many ways the more significant figures in the story.

Charles William Reade was by career an administrator in the Madras Civil Service in colonial India, his tenure spanning the eras when India was directly ruled by the East India Company through to the time it was under the British Raj - rule by the British Crown - following the Indian Rebellion of 1857.  He'd been educated at Harrow and Haileybury, a public school near Hertford ...
Reade, Charles William (The Head Master's). Cricket XL 1833 ; left 1833 2. Haileybury Coll. 1834-5; Madras C.S. [Madras Civil Service] 1835-71 ; Magistrate and Collector of South Arcot; of St. Catherine's Hall, Blackgang, Isle of Wight. DIED April 27th, 1884.
- The Harrow School register, 1800-1911, 1911, Internet Archive harrowschoolregi00harruoft).
.... and after starting out in 1835 as ...
... head assistant to collector and magistrate, Canara.
- page 7, List of the East-India Company's Covenanted Civil Servants on the Fort St. George Establishment, The East-India Register and Directory for 1842, Google Books zwYLAQAAIAAJ.
... by 1862 he had reached the rank of Collector (chief administrator and magistrate) for the populous agricultural region of South Arcot.
        At some point during his stint in India, Reade got religion (according to the below Sunday Magazine piece by Rev. W. E. Boardman, after reading the same Rev. Boardman's 1872 Gladness in Jesus). Although he wasn't allowed to evangelise on duty, he quit the post for health reasons, and before returning to England he set up a Christian mission at the town of Trivady, near Punrooty, now Panruti, Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu. An account by Miss Reade hints at an interesting story behind the founding, but it seems we're not destined to get it:
This little Mission was commenced in May 1871 by my father Mr. C. W. Reade, M. C. S., who was led to it in a remarkable way but too long to enter upon in detail here.
- Punruti Mission, Miss C.M. Reade, The Missionary Conference: South India and Ceylon, 1879, Volume 2, 1880).
Once back in England, Reade, and his equally devout family of wife and two daughters, made what seems a very strange decision given the lack of population at the southernmost top of the Isle of Wight: to set up a mission at Blackgang, Isle of Wight.
      The Sunday Magazine for 1875 has an informative article about the circumstances of the Blackgang mission's founding and building in  (you'll have to tune out the preaching, and ignore the well-trodden cod etymology about Blackgang’s name deriving from a "black gang" of ruffians haunting the ravine).
      "The Tap", outside which the Reade ladies began their preaching, refers to Blackgang Chine Hotel's old taproom and stables, now the Ship Ashore Tearooms just outside the entrance to the theme park. As a public house, "Blackgang Tap" was renamed The Ship Ashore Inn in 1963, and rebadged as a tearoom in 1995 (ref: page 149, Island Life magazine, April/May 2010).

Asked of God, Rev. W. E. Boardman, The Sunday Magazine for Family Reading, London: Daldy, Isbister, & Co., Volume 6, 1875, pages 196-199.


This title is the inscription upon the front of a hall at Blackgang on the Isle of Wight, and is the epitome of a very sweet story.
        The ministry in that hall is of the sort of which the prophet Joel must have had a vision when he said, "It shall come to pass in the last clays, saith the Lord, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your daughters shall prophesy,” for of a truth the Lord is there fulfilling this promise in a wonderful way. The Spirit is poured out upon many more than all the local population of Blackgang, and it is our daughters chiefly, though not exclusively, who do the prophesying.
        It is quite a household affair, for there are five members of one family who each take part in the services, and four of them are women.
        The hall itself is neat and convenient, and it is very comfortable for an assembly of four hundred people. And it is in use every Sunday all the day long, for services of one sort or another, for grown folk or children, as well as at stated times on other days of the week, and is filled with the presence of Him who dwelt in the temple of old.
        Yet the hall is not the main feature of the work of God there by the ministry of his daughters. A great help it is undoubtedly, and a delightful monument to the faithfulness of the Lord to his promises, but it is only the new in-door feature of what was begun and is continued mainly out of doors, under the glory of the presence of Him who dwelt in the bush and in the cloud long, long before the temple was built.
        Blackgang was not named by its own people, but by others, as expressive of the estimation in which they held its inhabitants. It seems that in the olden time, when wrecking, smuggling, and piracy were lucrative, and by no means so disreputable as now, the gentry of this ilk nested there. And whether from their complexion, bronzed as they must have been by the sun and the wind, or from the colour of their deeds of darker hue, they became known as the black gang, and this soubriquet for the people fastened upon the place of their abode. Dark names do follow deeds of darkness, you know, and are apt to stick with Ethiopian tenacity.
        The drive from Shanklin—another awkward name for a lovely place—over the hills by the sea, to Ventnor, and along the under cliff from there to Blackgang is one of the loveliest in any country. The blue above and the blue below, with the green hedges, and grand old oaks, elms, ashes, and limes. And the curious nooks, dells, and corners, and the beautiful houses of every variety in form, and the grounds under such thorough and tasteful cultivation, make every hill-top and hollow, and each turn of the road an agreeable surprise.
        Blackgang itself is a little scattered village, perched here and there upon the broken declivity, not over steep, of the high undercliff overhanging the sea, with an outlook in the rear upon the face of the bold upper-cliff lifting itself far above in an uneven line along the sky. The upper cliff, however, breaks down just there, and falls off into a broad and beautiful valley, which extends from end to end of the isle, thus affording an onlook over the valley, covered with farms admirably improved, to the opposite line of hills terminating at the sea end in "The Needles." The view, whichever way you look, is charming, and it must be confessed that the piratical crew, whether they appreciated it or not, did choose a most delightful nest for themselves and their viper brood. Of course they have long since given place to better people. Yet it is said that until this work commenced a year or so since, the place has never been praised for its godliness. There is indeed a church about a mile away, and has been for hundreds of years, and the children have been christened, the dead buried, and the living joined in wedlock in a Christianly way—but then, what more?
        One among the chiefs of the parish said, in reference to this matter, when a stir began to be made in the way of the what more, ''Your children are christened, and your dying have the sacrament of the Lord's Supper administered to them, and what more can you ask?"
        This would certainly seem to show the urgent need for asking and receiving some light from above to dispel the gross darkness covering the people.
    A great light has come upon them. A wonderful transformation is in progress. And everything in it and about it would bear the same inscription as that written upon the front of the hall in everything but the dates. Each thing has been asked, and one by one they have been received in answer to prayer.
        Franke's Institute in Halle of Germany, and the Ashley Down Orphanage at Bristol in England, and the Home for Consumptives on the Highlands of Boston, America, do not testify one whit more truly for God as the hearer of prayer than this work at Blackgang.
        The simple story of some of the leading things in this work moved my soul so deeply to ask and expect in future greater things than ever before, that I feel constrained to tell it to others. May it do more good to many, many thousands than it has even done to me.
        To begin at the beginning, the household engaged in this work is that of Charles W. Reade, Esq., and consists of his wife and her sister, with himself and two daughters. The first notable thing after the facts already stated, is the way in which this family was led to Blackgang. They lived many years in India. Then Mr. Reade's health failed, and they returned and tried the vicinity of London. It soon became evident that this would not do, and he thought of Wales, which his physician recommended. At this point his eye fell upon the advertisement of a house at Blackgang, for rent at a moderate price, which called to memory a visit there before he went to India, and how he had been charmed with the spot. At once the doctor was consulted, and instantly said, "Ah ! that is the very place for you."
        Then Blackgang was visited, and the house found to be in every way suitable, and all things seemed favourable save one. But that one thing, as it appeared to him and his household, presented a very serious drawback indeed. It was just this, there were few there to be saved.
        A great change had been going on in the hearts of this Christian household. Through a little book [“Gladness in Jesus”], Mr. Reade himself had been led into abiding union with Christ, and filled with his peace. And about the same time, the younger of his two eldest daughters, a young lady of twenty, had been brought to the Saviour. A deep sweet tone of love and desire to do good pervaded the family. The two young ladies with their mother and aunt wished much to go where they might hope to win many lost ones to Jesus, and when Mr. Reade returned from Blackgang, with the report that though there was great need of the gospel there among the few, yet the whole population of the village itself did not include many if any more than twenty scattered families, the thought of going there to make home seemed like a quencher to all the bright hopes recently kindled in their hearts.
        No important movement is made by them as a family with out unanimous and cheerful consent. The whole matter was taken to the Lord and committed to Him for decision by the circle as one. Finally, the mother gave counsel in these words, "Let us try it six months and see." To this all agreed.
        The way in which they were cheered and strengthened to expect great things at Blackgang, notwithstanding the very limited extent of the field, as it appeared to them, is very beautiful.
        One day two evangelists called at their house, and when Mrs. Reade met them, she was so impressed with the worn and wearied look of one of the two, that she spoke of it with deep sympathy, and warmly invited him to come to them and rest awhile before going on his purposed journey to Scotland for work.
        The other evangelist exclaimed, "How wonderful! I have been asking the Lord to incline your heart to offer him a room, and we came to see whether you could do it or not, and now you have already invited him before we had time to tell you our errand. Truly God is good."
        The evangelist remained several days, till he had rested and grown strong. Meanwhile, very soon the whole state of the case concerning Blackgang became known to him, and he waited on the Lord day after day about it, until at last he said with a joyful confidence quite contagious, "Go to Blackgang, and the Lord will give you souls there not a few. Ask hundreds, and He will give them."
        This was wonderfully cheering. The problem did indeed still remain unsolved, for how could hundreds of souls be given them in a village of scarcely twenty families all told? Yet the words of the evangelist did fling over the field a sunlit cheeriness if they did not enlarge it.
The Lord, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working, is the great solver of all the problems of faith; and when they went forward, trusting wholly in Him, it was not long before they began to see his solution of this one.
        They came to Blackgang, and the first Sunday after arriving one of the daughters said to her aunt, "Let us go out into the road and speak to any we may meet." This was the more remarkable because they had never done a thing of the kind before. The aunt said, "Yes," and they went. Near the "Tap," across the way, a little up the hill from the hotel to which it belonged, a little coterie of men stood talking, and the ladies approached them, and began—prophesying shall I say? —speaking very earnestly to them the things concerning salvation. At first the men laughed, then sobered, and listened for life, and others soon joined them.
        These all, as the work afterwards grew, and the harvest began to come in, were amongst the earliest sheaves, and they all give that first Sunday as the date of their first serious thoughts.
        The next Sunday, although no notice was given, about twenty assembled in the same place at the same hour, and the ladies spoke to them again, and the following Sunday thrice twenty were there. And so it went on growing until the out-of-door assemblies numbered hundreds, and comprised people from many miles around. Interest deepened every time, and it was perhaps the third Sunday that, after speaking to the people out of doors, the ladies invited them in-doors to hear more. The drawing-room filled, and then Mrs. Reade began speaking to them, as her daughters and sister had already been doing out of doors. Conversions clear and decided greatly encouraged them to go on asking and receiving, speaking and gathering in, and the converts themselves by their joyous testimony aided in extending and deepening the work until there was great joy in all the region round about.
        The numbers eager for the in-door instructions soon became so large that they were constrained to ask for ground on which to build a hall; to ask first of God, then of the only man in the village of whom they might hope for the privilege of purchasing. From this man they received a very decided negative, accompanied by the discouraging words, "You cannot buy a foot of land for the purpose within a mile of the place."
        This answer from the man did not dishearten them, but sent them afresh to the Lord. This was in July. Not a word more was said to the man, yet of his own accord he came and said, “I have concluded to sell you the ground you want for a hall, and to build you the hall too.”
        Then, when told plainly that they were not rich, and had not the money to pay, either for the ground or the hall, his generous answer was, "All right. Take your time. Pay me moderate interest from year to year, and take ten years, if you like, to pay the principal." So it was agreed, and so the hall was built. This was in December. And so it came about that it could be truthfully inscribed upon the front of the hall
"Asked of God July, 1873."
"Received December, 1873."
In the course of the year or so that this work had been in progress £195 in money has been sent to Mr. Reade in aid of it, and much of that from persons wholly unknown to any one of his household. And these things, both the hall and the money, are only incident to the greater things for which they have been asked and received. More than three hundred and sixty people, who before might have truthfully said, "No man careth for my soul," have been won to the confession of Christ as their Saviour; and so a great light has dawned upon the people filling many households with a peace and joy unknown before—a foretaste of bliss never ending above.
        And now, what of two things so wonderfully presented by these facts—our daughters in connection with the fulfilment of the prediction of Joel, and evangelizing by prayer as the primary thing?
        The Spirit has in this instance been poured out upon all flesh; yes, upon more than all; upon thrice over as many as all in the village of Blackgang, and it has been mainly in connection with the ministry of women. Nor have they lost so much as the bloom of womanliness in the process, or neglected domestic affairs in the least. Four women of one household, just the number of the daughters of Philip the Evangelist, refined, educated, womanly in presence and deportment, begin in the open air in front of the "Tap," with three or four men, and in a year gather between three and four hundred into the fold of salvation, and that in a place where the people of the village are scarcely one-third of that number.
        This is quite in keeping with the spirit of Joel in his glowing predictions. It needs only to be repeated in every locality, whether in city or country, and the words of the prophet would be grandly fulfilled.
        Why may it not be done? Are there not tens of thousands of households where there are hearts and tongues to ask and receive, and to speak as the Spirit should give them utterance, idle, or held back from asking, receiving, speaking; and that in tens of thousands of centres as hopeful, to say the least of it, as Blackgang?
        Are there to-day thousands upon thousands of desolate places which would speedily become gardens of beauty if only our daughters would do as this little band has done— ask and receive, go where the Spirit should lead, and do what He should bid?
Is there any connection between the unwillingness of our daughters to obey the Spirit if He should be given to them, and the fact that they are not filled with his presence?
        What relation is there between the holding back on their part and the withholding on the Lord's part, of the outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh? Can the prediction ever have its fulfilment until our daughters, as well as our sons, shall be willing to prophesy? Is the fear of offending the human sense of propriety, and so of losing caste before the world, preventing compliance with divine propriety as expressed by the prophet? And is it so that in very many instances we fathers, and brothers, and husbands could, if we would, but do not, encourage our daughters, and sisters, and wives as has been done in this family, to ask and receive, and obey the Spirit in whatsoever He may give them to do or to say? What is the relation between their unwillingness and ours? And what is the relation between the unwillingness to have the prophecy fulfilled in ourselves and our families, and its non-fulfilment in the communities around us? Can it ever be fulfilled abroad amongst the perishing until it has its fulfilment first in our families?
Shall we pause and lift up our hearts for God's answer to these questions one by one?
        And now for the other matter. What about evangelizing by prayer? Here is a place which a few months ago would have been regarded by any ordinary pastor or evangelist as a very insignificant field, and an exceedingly hopeless one; and yet in a time so short it is already marvellously changed, and has become the centre of a work constantly extending, in which nearly four hundred lost ones have been saved. A great work for a lifetime of ministry upon the usual principle. And all this without a church, without a minister, without an evangelist, without any human planning, and without any daily continuous series of meetings, or any mission week even in the whole time; and all by the ministry mainly of four women who had never before spoken in public in or out of doors, or had any previous experience in work of the kind.
        How came it to pass?
        Has this household been led practically into the great secret of successful evangelization missed by so many?
        Is the-principle which lies at the foundation of the wonderful growth of such works as Franke's Institute, Müller Orphanage, and Dr. Cullis' Home for Consumptives, after all, the true principle of success in every work of God, and especially in the greatest of all works—evangelization?
        Will it be so, that when the prophecy of Joel shall have its full-fill-ment, there might be truthfully inscribed upon every instrument, every plan, and work, and word, as well as upon each saved one,—
"Asked of God, at such a time.
Received, at such a time."

Out-of-copyright text transcribed from Google Books scan of The Sunday Magazine, Volume 6, 1875. Reproduced strictly for noncommercial use.

I haven't found an explicit location for the 1873 Blackgang Mission Hall. It's not the well-known green-red-and-cream corrugated iron 'tin chapel' on Blythe Shute leading down to Chale village (see Google Maps) - now converted as The Mission, a holiday let. While this actually did see long service as hall for the mission founded by the Reades, it's a replacement dating from1898 ...
BLACKGANG MISSION—Since the erection of the new Mission-Hall in 1898 … the anniversary of the mission founded in 1873 and the annual harvest thanksgiving have been commemorated together.
- Official and Other Notices, IWCP, Saturday, October 12, 1901, page 6 (reproduced as fair usage, Isle of Wight County Press Archive 
... because the 1873 "ASKED OF GOD ..." one had gone out of use by 1900:
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a separate building named Blackgang Mission-hall, situate at Blyths, in the civil parish of Chale, in the county of Isle of Wight, in the registration district of Isle of Wight, being a building certified according to law as a place of meeting for regular worship, was on the 30th day of July, 1900, duly registered for solemnising marriages therein, pursuant to the Act of 6th and 7th Wm. 4, c. 85, being in substitution for the Mission-Hall, Blackgang, now disused.—Witness my hand this 30th day of July, 1900. FREDC. STRATTON, Superintendent Registrar.
- Official and Other Notices, IWCP, Saturday, August 4, 1900, page 4 (reproduced as fair usage, Isle of Wight County Press Archive  
I suspect the "disused" part is down to the old hall becoming too close to the cliff edge. A harvest festival report prior to the new Mission Hall's building mentions a location adjacent to the now-destroyed Sealands, at the north-west end of Blackgang proper, directly adjacent to the Chine.
Mrs. R. Pinnock of Sealands, which property adjoins the Hall, kindly threw open her grounds to the visitors, where they happily spend the brief interval between the tea and the meeting.
- Blackgang, IWCP, Saturday, October 17, 1896, page 8 (reproduced as fair usage, Isle of Wight County Press Archive

National Library of Scotland Map Images
Low-resolution screenshot for non-commercial illustration purposes
Click here for navigable high-res comparison images
Despite the unpromising catchment area, the Blackgang Mission Hall went on to a long and successful history, drawing congregations from around the Island on the basis of charismatic preaching by Charles Reade's daughters, and affiliation with other organisations, notably the Isle of Wight Temperance and Band of Hope Union, which met at the Mission Hall. Their popularity was maintained by touring other Island venues. For instance:
Yarmouth, Feb 12. BAPTIST CHAPEL..—Religous services have been conducted for the last fortnight at the Baptist Chapel here by Misses Reade and Hamilton, of Blackgang, and have attracted every evening large congregations, and among them many of the lower classes who have not attended any place of worship for years past.
Baptist Chapel, The Hampshire Advertiser (Southampton, England), Saturday, February 12, 1876; pg. 8.
We know "Miss Hamilton" is Reade's youngest daughter from report of her marriage to Leslie Chapman on Oct. 5th 1892 ("Margaret Hamilton, youngest daughter of the late Charles William Reade, Madras Civil Service, of St Catherine's Lodge, Blackgang, I.W." - ref: The Standard (London, England), Monday, October 10, 1892). "Miss Reade" is a Miss EC Reade, who married Christopher William Smith. The Reade genealogy isn't clear to me at this stage.
        Reade and his wife had a son Charles Frederick Malcolm, born in India, who died in 1846 aged 7 months; a son born at "Sussex-square, Brighton" on 5th August 1850 (who appears also to have died young - "Charles Malcolm Blaine McCurthy, May 25th 1851, at Sussex-square, Brighton).

The mission story, however, doesn't stop in Blackgang in the 1870s. After Charles Reade left India, things didn't go well for the Punrooty Mission he founded. Accounts differ on whether it actually failed or just "languished". One of Reade's daughters - she's inconsistently called "CM Reade" and "FM Reade" with no pattern I can detect - then took the radical step of going to India with a colleague, Clara MS Lowe, to reboot the Mission personally. There are a number of contemporary reports, such as this first-hand one, which is probably among the least objectionable ...
Punrooty Mission plan
Google Books scan
from Punrooty, Lowe, 1880
By Miss C.M. Reade.
This little Mission was commenced in May 1871 by my father Mr. C. W. Reade, M. C. S., who was led to it in a remarkable way but too long to enter upon in detail here. It was at first carried on by native missionaries, but their method of work and other circumstances not proving quite to our satisfaction, it was decided that I should come out and take charge of the Mission. At the last the Lord raised up a valued friend and wise counseller to join me in Miss Lowe, daughter of the late General Sir Hudson Lowe. For three years she remained with me, till her health completely breaking down she was obliged to return home. Our desire being that the Mission should be purely evangelistic, from the time Miss Lowe and myself came out until the commencement of the famine in August 1877, our whole energies were expended in open-air preaching in Punrúti and the many villages around, instruction of inquirers who invariably followed these open-air services and Bible classes, together with medical work, which though at times, in visitations of cholera and fever, it became very heavy, we have only looked upon as quite secondary to the evangelistic work. Punrúti, the head station of the Mission, is a large native town 16 miles west of Cuddalore in the South Arcot District, chiefly inhabited by Chetties, though it contains a small number of the various other castes and a tolerably large community of Musalmans who have a mosque there. There are many villages surrounding it all sunk in the grossest heathen darkness, and about a mile east of it is a large town named Trivady, which contains heathen temples of remote antiquity.
- The Punrúti Mission, Miss C.M. Reade, The Missionary Conference: South India and Ceylon, 1879, Volume 2, 1880, page 421.
.... as there's an overall racism in generally ascribing the Mission's problems to native incompetence. That includes Clara MS Lowe's own book on the Mission ("South Arcot Highways and Hedges Mission") which quotes remarks about "the inherent weakness of the native character, and its unfitness for the uncontrolled and irresponsible charge of a Christian Mission".
        Miss Lowe's book Punrooty, or, The Gospel Winning its Way among the Women of India (Clare MS Lowe, London: Morgan and Scott, 1880) is findable online via the Bodleian Library, Aleph System Number: 014253362. The server's down at this instant, but they say they're working on it; for the moment, here's a review:
Punrooty; or, The Gospel Winning the Way among the Women of India. By Clara M. S. Lowe. London: Morgan and Scott. Miss Lowe here narrates the remarkable success which has attended the labours of her friend, Miss Reade, and herself, daring their three years' occupancy of a secluded mission field in Southern India. The father of Miss Reade at one time occupied the post of highest authority in the district of South Arcot, in the Madras Presidency. Here, in the large native town of Punrooty, when his term of office was ended, he built a chapel and school-rooms, and established a native evangelist. Left to native superintendence, after its founder had returned to England, the mission languished, and seemed likely to become extinct, when Miss Reade, his daughter, bravely resolved to seek its revival and improvement by her personal care and effort. Accompanied by Miss Lowe, she undertook the task and accomplished it, with the most remarkable results. These two ladies were the only Europeans in the mission; and their solitary assistant, when they began their work, appears to have been a Bible-woman. But they gained access to the heathen of their own sex as they never would have done had they been accompanied by Christian men. After labouring about twelve months, a baptism took place of a little girl; and this, after a while, was followed by others, in quick succession. The native catechist and schoolmaster were soon brought into requisition. The physical ailments and the temporal wants, as well as the spiritual necessities, of the perishing around them were relieved by these devoted Christian ladies, and amid heathen darkness a centre of Christian light was established, which promises to become a source of future blessing. Some of the cases of conversion narrated are very touching, and the whole volume is one which must interest the friends of missions.
-  Literature, Evangelical Christendom, November 1, 1880, page 338.
It was evidently far from plain sailing. Like her colleague Miss Lowe (who returned to England to act as its local secretary from Upper Tooting, London), Miss Reade became seriously ill on at least one occasion, and needed time out at Malta in 1882..
Mr. and Mrs. Reade are preparing to leave for Punrooty early in March, calling at Malta to spend with Miss Reade the week's interval between one mail and the next. Of course, this expedition, in addition to the return of Miss Reade and her party, involves very considerable expense, which neither Mr. Reade nor the Mission has the funds to meet. It is hoped, therefore, that friends will be raised up to afford substantial and immediate help in this emergency.

We have received the following note from Miss Reade herself, which will be read with great thankfulness by all her friends :—
Dear Friend in Christ,—I feel led to send a few lines through my father to express my warm thanks to yourself and other kind friends who have Bo helped me by their prayers in my late severe illness. I am, indeed, very grateful, and thank God that He has most abundantly answered prayer in restoring me almost miraculously to comparative health and strength. Under Him it is due to the devoted love and care of my dear fellow-helper, Mus Groom.
        You will, I am sure, understand how deep a trial it has been to have to leave the beloved work in Punrooty at a moment's notice and without any preparation, and to take away another worker also—namely, Miss Groom: but my so quick restoration from the very valley of death assures as that the Lord means us very soon to return. May I ask the further prayers of the Lord's people, through The Christian, that He may be pleased to enable us to return in September next, by giving us both renewed health and strength, and sending us the necessary means.
        It may interest you to know that during our absence the Mission is in charge of Mr. F. Bowden, of Madras, who, though not able to reside there, has most kindly promised to visit it from time to time.
        One other request for prayer I am sure I may add, viz., that all the native helpers there may be kept very faithful, the dear orphans be kept "under the shadow of His wing" from all evil, and that God Himself may deal by his Spirit with the souls of the heathen and Mohammedans around who have heard his Word.
        In deep gratitude for all your interest and kindness in the post, I remain, yours truly in our Lord,
Malta, Feb. 1. F. M. Reade.
We can well understand how deeply anxious Miss Reade is to return to the work which has been so wondrously blessed in her hands, and that six months seems to her a long while to look forward to ; but, considering the strain of the nervous system to which she has been subject, and the severe illness through which she has passed, it may be that a longer period will be necessary in order to such a restoration to health as would enable her to resume her arduous mission.
-  Notes and Comments, The Christian, Thursday, Feb. 16, 1882, page 12.
The final days of the Panrooty Mission and Miss Reade dwindle into statistics.
The Panruti, or Highways and Hedges, Mission was founded in 1871 by C. W. Reade, Collector of the district between 1862 and 1871. It was sold to the Danish Missionary Socety in 1911 and since then the Society has been managing it.
- Madras District Gazetteers: South Arcot, Madras (India : State), B. S. Baliga (Rao Bahadur.) Superintendent, Government Press, 1962, page 166.
Miss C. M. Reade moved to Cuddalore, where she established her mission with a small reading room and free lending-library. Miss Reade died in April 1925 and was [bnried at ????]
- Madras District Gazetteers, Statistical Appendix for South Arcot District, Madras (India : State), Superintendent, Government Press, 1932.
The Blackgang Mission Hall enjoyed a late 19th century heyday that continued even after the death of its founder, particularly under the leadership of Christopher W Smith. Its service continued more quietly through until the mid-20th century (it became known as Christ Church, Blackgang - see IWFHS: Churches, Chapels and Cemeteries and A field visit in 1998 by the Isle of Wight County Archaeology and Historic Environment Service reported "appears disused" (see #3327), but planning permission was approved in 2008 for its conversation to the present holiday let. The brochure page for has a nice merc clothing video showing the inside.
        The plannning Design Statement (PDF) has a bit about the history, which confirms my view that the original 1873 Mission Hall has long since gone over the cliff, though I'm not convinced of its chronology; it says, for instance, that the 'tin chapel' is the third incarnation of a Blackgang Mission Hall, but bases this on dates that fail to mention the clear-cut IWCP news reports of the 1898 rebuild. The IWCP only goes back to 1884, unfortunately, so it's hard to trace 1870s building events.

April 2015 - likely location of  original 1873 Mission Hall
- Ray

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