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November 27th, 2014
Medieval Influences

Medieval Influences

The congregation outgrew their little log church and in 1893 a handsome new brick church was built. This structure, which was enlarged in 1915, has both Norman (rounded arch) and Gothic (pointed arch) features. Most of the arches and windows are Norman, but the great east window is Gothic and the high-peaked roof gives a Gothic flavour. The square bell tower is of Norman design.

One of St. John’s most distinctive features is its high-peaked, hammer-beamed roof, which gives it a sense of spaciousness. Hammer beams are horizontal beams with knobbed ends. They were invented in medieval times to cover a large area with a comparatively light roof, without the need for vast stone arches.

Another touch of the medieval is the famous lych gate at the corner of Kingston Road and Woodbine. St. John’s lych gate has appeared in several Hollywood movies. Built in 1929, it was inspired by the roofed gateways in old English churches, under which funeral parties would pause while part of the burial service was read. Although it serves only an ornamental purpose at St. John’s, the stone and wood Lych gate enhances the old-world charm of this historic cemetery.

Inside the cemetery office is an extremely rare grandfather clock. The clock was presented in 1911 to a parishioner, John Carter, by the Sons of England Society, and he in his turn willed it to the church in 1931 for use in the parish hall. After years of neglect, the clock was painstakingly restored in 1995 and now occupies a place of honour in the counselling room.

The old wooden church was used as a Sunday school and then as a stable until 1920 when it was demolished. A curved stone bench with steps leading up to it now marks the site of the original St. John’s. Nearby is a monument erected in 1982 to the memory of Charles Coxwell Small.

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