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Derby Mercury 30 Jan 1861

SINGULAR OCCURRENCE IN CHURCH — A rather singular circumstance, which might have been attended with fatal consequences, happened at Shirley Church, on Sunday morning, the 20th. It appears that the church is heated by a flue that passes under the floor. A good fire had been kept in during Friday and Saturday, and little or none on the Sunday morning, which, assisted by the damp and foggy day, probably caused an accumulation of noxious gas. All, however, appears to have passed on without particular observation till the clergyman had commenced the Communion Service, when suddenly some of the school children complained of headache and sickness, and before any of them could reach the door several became quite insensible and fell prostrate on the floor. The adult members of the congregation becoming alarmed, seized the children in their arms, and carried them into the fresh air, and some into the neighbouring cottages, where after a short time most of them so far recovered as to be able to return to their respective homes. Mrs. and Miss Michell, the vicar's wife and daughter, in their endeavours to assist the children to escape from their dangerous situation, were so overpowered by the effects of the gas as to cause Mrs. Michell to fall before she could arrive at the school. Miss Michell, however, succeeded in reaching the school in a very weak state; from whence they were both conveyed to the vicarage in a very distressed and exhausted condition, and continued so the remainder of the day. The same effects were alas seriously felt by several other members of the congregation. Medical assistance was rendered to the whole of the sufferers as early as possible, and they are now, we are happy to say, progressing favourably.

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