When the newly appointed Bishop of Fredericton, John Medley (1804-1892), arrived in New Brunswick in 1845, some forty Church of England parishes in the province had no church building, and most parishes lacked a resident clergyman.
Most, if not all, of the then existing Anglican churches in New Brunswick were patterned after the Georgian style “meeting houses,” common to the American colonies, an architectural style that found no favour with New Brunswick’s first bishop.
To promote his preferred Gothic style of church architecture, Bishop Medley employed a local craftsman, or craftsmen, to construct a number of models based on designs provided by various British ecclesiological societies and by British architect Frank Wills (1822-1857), who designed Christ Church Cathedral, Fredericton, and other New Brunswick churches before removing to the United States. Wills, also of Exeter, came to New Brunnswick in 1845, shortly after Bishop Medley’s arrival, and remained in the province until late in 1847.
The Bishop rightly believed it was difficult for people to understand plans on paper, but a model clearly conveyed the details of the proposed design. Probably the proposal to parish church boards that, “it they would agree to execute the work according to that model, it should be furnished to them free of expense,” was more persuasive than the Bishop’s promotion of Gothic design.
This model, 28 inches long, about 18 inches wide, and 16 inches high, is one of the few surviving. One is at the Cathedral, one at Christ Church, Maugerville, and another at St. Andrews.
Thanks to David Bell and Gregg Finley1 for identification of the model and supplying much of the material on which the foregoing text is based.
1. Finley, Gregg, On Earth as it is in Heaven, Goose Lane Editions, Fredericton, 1995, pp. 128, 133-4.