The Parish Chest
A Parish Chest is literally a strong box, used to keep safe all the important documents and "church plate" (the gold and silver vessels used in church services) of the parish.
They were made of a dense hard wood, usually oak, and strapped with metal and locks. They were heavy to stop it being lifted out of the church.
They would be used to keep important documents such as parish registers, poor accounts, the vicar's records or other administration records.
Hardingstone's iron bound chest was located near the church entrance for many years and when it was opened in 1974 it was found to contain 18th and 19th century documents relating to the church and Hardingstone village life. These documents are all now housed in the Northamptonshire Record Office.
The chest itself is in much need of restoration and repair - a specialised job. The Supporters of St. Edmund's are currently looking to raise funds to undertake this and have also sent off a request for help to BBC's The Repair Shop ... fingers crossed!