In January 1859 Erskine Clarke published the first Parish Magazine which included an insert that was to be adopted by 200 Parishes throughout the country. Just eight years later Edward Polehampton who was then rector of the Hartfield Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin first published the "Hartfield Parish Magazine" adopting the Erskine Clarke insert in the centre.
There is therefore no doubt our Magazine was among the first 200 and was first published in June 1867. The cover featured an engraving taken from a photograph by a Philip Delamotte and is reproduced on the left. We are grateful to the Hartfield History Group, who have preserved these early editions which came to light when the original rectory was cleared and sold. Here are the first two paragraphs from that first magazine:
“MY FRIENDS AND PARISHIONERS, On presenting you with this, the first number of THE HARTFIELD PARISH MAGAZINE, and asking you to become Subscribers for the future, I cannot do better than give you some description of the Magazine itself, and of the objects for which it is started. The central sheets (24 pages) are edited by the REV. ERSKINE CLARKE, under the name of The Parish Magazine, and have had an extensive circulation through the whole of this country for some time. The first and last pages will be confined to such matters as are of special interest only in this Parish.”
While the original cover price of One Penny would seem cheap, it is equivalent of our current price of 40 pence. However the rector writing at the time did not expect one penny would:
"really cover the expense of publication, but I hope that friends will help me to make up the deficit.”
I am pleased to say today's "Chronicle" does cover its costs thanks to the support of our local advertisers. Just two months after the very first edition the rector listed 130 subscribers, so bearing in mind that not everyone would be able to read in the 1860s the Hartfield's Parish magazine was off to a good start.