St. John’s Anglican Church, 85 Carleton Street in Saint John familiarly called “the stone church” was designated a National Historic Site in 1987 because it is one of the earliest and best examples of a Gothic Revival church, in the Romantic phase, in Canada.
There are more than 800 national historic sites in Canada. 58 are in New Brunswick, and 13 of those 58 can be found in Saint John. The majority of these historic sites date from the nineteenth century and show the origins of the culture that makes Saint John unique.
Part of this culture is loyalty to a British heritage and evidence of this loyalty can be found in Stone Church. It was named a Garrison Church in 1824, when the Lieutenant-Governor donated £600 to help defray the cost of building. The church is still used by the military to this day for special church services. Since then, the church has maintained its connections to England and the Church of England. The Linking Stone, set in the Chancel arch, is a piece of Caen stone which once formed part of the chancel of St. Andrew’s Church, Steyning, Sussex, England. The stone thus forms a link between St. John’s Church and the Church of our forefathers in ancient Britain. There is still a pew in the church that is reserved as the Garrison Officers’ Pew, and the royal coat of arms still hangs from the balcony.
St. John’s reflects the earliest phase of the Gothic Revival in Canada, a transitional phase between the classical tradition and revived Gothic architecture, known as Romantic Gothic Revival. Built in 1823-6 to designs by John Cunningham, St. John’s is typical of the Romantic Gothic Revival style in its use of the forms and composition of 18th century classicism, over which Gothic embellishments have been applied. St. John’s is one of the earliest manifestations of this style in Canada.
The church includes a chancel built in 1872 to designs by local architect Matthew Stead, which follows a later, more historically correct phase of the Gothic Revival, known as Ecclesiological Gothic Revival.
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