A Bell of Two Chapels

July 25, 2014

submitted by Ruth M. Parker

Between 1886 and 1905, the Chapel of the Holy Angels served as a mission chapel of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Nashua.  This chapel was located near Stewarts Corner in Hudson (the intersection of Lowell, Dracut, and River roads).

In the beginning, services were held monthly in the old No. 2 school house.  In 1890, after the town voted to build a new schoolhouse, the church purchased the old house and moved it onto the east side of Lowell Road, just north of Stewarts Corner.  Renovations ensued to the exterior and the interior of the building.  A belfry and cross were placed over the front gable.  In the belfry was placed a Meneely bell with the inscription “Let him that heareth say come.”  The belfry and bell were the gift of Dr. and Mrs. (Virginia) Hills.  Other improvements were also made and the chapel was consecrated in September 1892.  Weekly services continued through 1905.  By 1907, the building was sold and converted into a dwelling.  No record was found as to the disposition of the bell.

In 1890, Dr. Hills built the Alvirne summer house on his ancestral farm for himself and his family.  Dr. and Mrs. Hills had two daughters, both died as infants.  Gladys Marguerite died in 1891 and Mary Virginia died in 1895.  By 1908 Mrs. Hills became ill and passed away.  Dr. Hills commenced his plans to construct the Alvirne Chapel as a memorial to his wife, Virginia.  The architectural drawings of the chapel by Hubert Ripley were documented in Architectural Review January 1910.  Oddly enough the drawings for the belfry stated “bell not included.”  We were puzzled over the significance of this statement.

Fast forward to July 2014.  While doing some maintenance on the trees and shrubs at the chapel, Tim Marshall of Atomic Tree was asked to photograph the bell.  Equipped with a digital camera and his bucket truck, he was able to get up close and obtain pictures of the bell.

On the side of the bell facing Derry Road is inscribed:





A.D. 1890

Overlooking the chapel roofline:




In a circle below these inscriptions are the words:  “LET HIM THAT HEARETH SAY, COME

This bell is the bell of two chapels.  First placed by Dr. and Mrs. Hills in the belfry of The Chapel of the Holy Angels in 1890.  Then some 28 years later, Dr. Hills placed the same bell in the belfry of the Alvirne Chapel as part of his memorial to his wife, Virginia.

Thanks to the Alvirne Trustees for coordinating this event with tree maintenance and to Tim Marshall for taking the photos.