Friday, 27 July 2012

"Cheating the Devil"

"If you venture along Rodney Street, you’ll come across the derelict church of St Andrew’s, and an eye-catching pyramid – the tomb of William McKenzie, who died in 1851. Rather than being buried, he’s said to be sitting upright at a table inside the pyramid, clutching a winning hand of cards. The reason for this is that the Devil had said that he would only take McKenzie’s soul once he was laid to rest in his grave; by keeping his mortal remains above ground, McKenzie sought to cheat the Devil.

However, there are two completely different stories about how McKenzie came to be involved with the Devil in the first place. One says that he asked for the Devil’s help to win a high-stakes poker game; the Devil agreed, in return for his soul. The other version has McKenzie becoming an atheist on the premature death of his sweetheart and leading a life of drinking and (successful) gambling. One night, he meets his match playing poker, in the form of the mysterious Mr Madison. McKenzie loses literally all of his money, and Madison invites him to play one last hand. McKenzie protests that he has nothing left to gamble with, but Madison asks “What about your soul?” McKenzie initially refuses, now suspecting who ‘Mr Madison’ really is. Madison chall­enges him that if he is an atheist then he cannot believe in the reality of the soul, and therefore has nothing to lose. McKenzie finally agrees, and of course loses the game. Madison says that he will take McKenzie’s soul after he is buried, and immediately vanishes"

A derelict Liverpool city centre church is to be restored and developed into accommodation for 100 students. St Andrew's Church, on Rodney Street, is a Grade II listed building which has been unused since the mid 1970s. It will be renovated by Wirral-based Middle England developments. The churchyard includes the grave of James McKenzie, according to local legend a gambler, who when he died in 1851 was buried sat upright, holding a winning hand of cards. The church was built for Scottish Presbyterians and is one of the few surviving works designed by architect John Foster Junior. Redevelopment work will include the rebuilding of one of the church's turrets and a remodelling of the exterior. Liverpool City Council spent more than £100,000 in legal fees to acquire the site in 2008 and a further £150,000 since on emergency repairs.

 pics taken by me