THE historic Longford Anglican church's hidden treasure could easily have ended up at the tip instead of its new place at the front of the church, in full view of the community that saved it.
There are 75-year-old parishioners who have been attending the 173-year-old church since childhood who remember the treasure in a cabinet as nothing more than a conveniently located bench.
It was a place to count the Sunday collection or a place to put a welcoming vase of flowers.
Parishioner Jenny Williams received the surprise of her life when she lifted the top one day and discovered a keyboard, albeit a tattered, long-neglected seraphine or harmonium keyboard.
``I had actually said one day, `is it to go to the tip?' You wouldn't have given two bob for it,'' Mrs Williams said yesterday.
Instead she started her own research campaign and discovered that the rare seraphine had been the musical instrument for the church when it was St Augustine's, the original church on the site in the heart of the town. It was demolished to make way for the existing Christ Church in 1839.
What surprised Mrs Williams even more was how quickly nearly $8000 was raised for the seraphine's restoration.
``We found out that the 190 needed to buy musical items for the first church in the 1820s had come from the local community,'' she said.
``So we thought that we would go back to the community for help.''
It took less than three weeks to raise the money.
The restored free-reed seraphine, in its polished mahogany case made by Gunther and Horwood, Camden Town, London, in the early 1820s, will not be the only surprise for those attending a celebration afternoon tea at the church this Saturday.
Victorian organ restorer Daniel Bittner took another small timber cabinet he found in the church back to his workshop. Inside was a tiny American-made Estey organ that he restored at no cost.