My church is a modest attractive timber building that was erected in 1869 in what is now the rural residential suburbs of Brisbane. It’s still surrounded by trees, horse paddocks, and the footprints of many generations of the first European settlers. I took my Minelab metal detector and went looking for those footprints, and was stunned with what I found.
Just a couple of steps from the old wooden front door of the church, buried under six inches of soil, I found the face of Queen Victoria with her hair in a bun. It was a magnificent 1866 penny, the young queen was on one side, and Britannia on the other. It was an English coin of course, because that’s all that colonial Queensland had back then.
This was a stunning find because the penny was even older than the church itself. One of the original Methodist congregation would have dropped it. It must have been a member of the Gregory, Brimblecombe, Middleton, Logan, Dart, Upton, Butler, or Herron families, hurrying to their pew one sunny Sunday morning 149 years ago. Eliza Ann Brimblecombe was the church’s first organist, and she was certainly playing one of Charles Wesley’s magnificent hymns as the coin slid and fell to hide under the grass for the next century and a half.
Following my intuition, I walked in the footsteps of the pioneers from the church’s front door to the gate. There I unearthed my next historical find. It was Winchester 12-gauge shotgun shell from around 1897-1929. It may have been fired in the late 19th century, but was certainly pre-Depression. (Surely it wasn’t from a wedding?) The minister back then was The Reverend George Wesley Pittendrigh. He’d lost his brother, also a Methodist minister, at Gallipoli in the First World War in 1915. George himself had served as Australian Army chaplain in France.
From the front gate, I returned to the church and searched down the side. There I found a 1942 Australian King George VI penny and threepence. The latter is a beautiful bright little coin made from 92.5% silver. By the year these coins were minted, Reverend Pittendrigh had again enlisted as an army chaplain, this time in the Second World War.
I kept making more discoveries. There was an old brass buckle, a gold-plated family coat of arms pin, pink enamel leaf ring, loads of modern coins, and the wondrous item that heralded the minor miracle.
I dug up a sterling silver bracelet, which means 92.5% silver, and it was lovely. It was then that a car drove into the church yard and parked. Out stepped Nancy the wife of Cam the church council chairman who’d allowed me to search the grounds. She was delivering the communion wine for the church service the next day. I showed Nancy the bracelet and asked did she know who owned it.
At first Nancy didn’t say anything. In silence she examined the bracelet, looking away then at the bracelet again, and then she said yes, she did know the owner. It was Nancy’s very own bracelet given to her as a gift from Cam but lost some years ago. She never thought that she’d see it again. We were both so excited. To discover a beautiful silver piece of jewellery is one thing, but to reunite the piece with it’s true owner within minutes is another.
I’ll go to church this Sunday, and this time also counting my blessings at having so much fortune finding treasure there. I’ll seek out Nancy, because I know that she’ll be wearing the bracelet, and we’ll both be feeling very good about her small, silver miracle.
Watch the video with live treasure reveals at this 19th century church