Dorchester, a historic village and active municipality, was once a thriving economic hub in the late 19th century, which is still evident in some of its beautiful homes and other structures. Trinity Anglican Church has been designated as a Canadian Historic Place due to its association with the Anglican Church, its connections to several prominent Dorchester families, its architecture, and its stained glass windows.
The church is also recognized for its ties to some of Dorchester’s most influential families, including the Keillor, Chandler, Botsford, Smith, Palmer, Gilbert, Weldon, Hannington, Teed, Hickman, Oulton, and Chapman families. Most of these families were descendants of emigrants from Yorkshire, England, or United Empire Loyalists, and played significant roles in Dorchester’s community affairs, politics, and business. The Sir Albert Smith Memorial Pulpit and the Lady Smith Memorial Tablet honor these prominent benefactors of the church, while other tablets are dedicated to Judge William Botsford Chandler and Robert Godfrey.
Constructed in 1840, Trinity Anglican Church was consecrated on August 21, 1843, by John Inglis, Lord Bishop of Nova Scotia. Bishop Inglis described the church as “a very neat church” in his diary. In 1846, the church ladies and Bishop Medley’s wife made red hangings to commemorate the bishop’s visit, which are still in use today.
The first organ arrived from England in 1845, and the current organ was installed in 1870. In 1959, an organ builder from England overhauled it, and the choir and organist from Saint George’s Church, Moncton, participated in the rededication service. The chancel was expanded in 1868 and refitted in 1880 with a credence bracket, lectern, new chancel carpet, and a more appropriate Holy Table. In 1880, the women’s guild donated funds for a stone fence and a new bell from Baltimore, installed in time for Christmas that year. The rector’s engineer son designed the tower alterations, which were carried out by parish men. The bell served a dual purpose, calling people to worship and alerting the town of any fires.
In 1887, twelve gothic windows were installed in the church. The headings depict the Four Gospels with the cathedral glass coming from Montreal. The frames were made in Oxford, Nova Scotia. New pews of ash complimented the seating. A new brass and oak pulpit honoured the memory of Sir Albert Smith and a window in the chancel was also given in memory of the six children of David and Lydia Chapman. David Chapman was warden of the parish church for twenty-one years.
The focal point of the church is the great east window, dedicated in 1888 in memory of Harriett Forsayeth, the mother-in-law of Joshua Chandler. The window is comprised of three lights depicting the Birth, the Baptism and the Ascension of our Lord. The Easter window on the right hand of the nave depicts St. Mary Magdalene meeting our Lord following the resurrection. This window is in memory of George Wentworth Chandler and Kathleen Head, his wife. In 2001 Trinity’s newest stained glass window was dedicated in memory of Frank and Mona Dobson and Celia Baird by Charles and Gaius Dobson. The window depicts the angel Gabriel speaking with Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the Annunciation.
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