St. Peter’s Anglican Church is a 2-storey timber framed church built in the Gothic Revival style. Located in Twillingate, NL, St. Peter’s Anglican Church was built between 1839 and 1844 during the episcopacy of Bishop Edward Field. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Registered Heritage Structure
St. Peter’s Anglican Church was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1998 due to its aesthetic and historic values.
St. Peter’s Anglican Church is the longstanding centre of the Anglican congregation in Twillingate. An Anglican minister was present in Twillingate from 1816 onward and a church from 1827 onward. However, the original church was poorly built and too crowded for the size of the congregation. Supervised by Andrew Pearce, the new St. Peter’s Anglican Church was funded and built by the congregation. In 1862, the church parishioners subscribed to the purchase of the tower bell in gratitude for the “Great Haul”, the bountiful seal harvest of that year. The structure’s status in the community is apparent in the building’s size and its location on a hill, aspects which make it stand out in the built landscape of Twillingate . Furthermore, the cemetery on the grounds of the church is valuable for its association with the people of Twillingate and the parishioners who helped in building the church. The prominence of this building and the story of its construction speaks to the centrality of religion in outport communities of this period and of the communities’ personal and financial investment in their religion.
The design of St. Peter’s Anglican Church was inspired by St. James’ Church in Poole, Dorset, the home port of many Newfoundland merchants and, in particular, of Twillingate merchant John Slade. Slade contributed timbers (supposedly of Newfoundland pine) to the building of St. James Church and acquired from that church brass candle sconces, which he gave to St. Peter’s. Many design elements of St.Peter’s, such as the high pulpit and the crenellation on the church tower, are simplified versions of similar features in St. James’ Church. The connection between these two churches is indicative of the long-standing history of West Country merchants in the fishing trade in northeastern Newfoundland.
St. Peter’s Anglican Church is a fine example of early Gothic Revival style employed in an outport church. The square bell tower features a broad central spire with pinnacles on the four points and crenellation along the outline of the square. The pointed arch windows and exposed timber framing on the interior of the church embody a simple Gothic style. The raised wooden pulpit, ornamented with quatrefoils and cusped arches and accessed by a straight staircase, is the most elaborate interior Gothic element. The main portion of the church was erected in 1842, with the tower completed in 1844. It was consecrated by Bishop Edward Feild in 1845. In 1884 a chancel was added by local builder Titus Manuel in memory of merchant Edwin Duder.
The Gothic Revival style was the architectural expression of Bishop Feild’s Tractarian views. Tractarians called for a return to the medieval roots of the Anglican church, away from the perceived decadences of the modern church, as exemplified by the Gothic Revival style. The surviving galleries in St. Peter’s are unusual, as Tractarians like Feild usually argued for the removal of galleries; Feild himself would later oppose the suggestion of galleries for the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in St. John’s. St. Peter’s Anglican Church reflects Bishop Feild’s drive to expand the Anglican Church across Newfoundland and emphasizes his influence on the religious, political and educational life of the province during his episcopacy.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Twillingate – St. Peter’s Anglican Church – FPT 1331”
Character Defining Elements
All those elements that are representative of the Gothic Revival style of architecture including;
-number of storeys;
-timber frame construction;
-general massing of building;
-steep gable roof;
-square bell tower with crenellation, corner pinnacles and spire;
-narrow white wooden clapboard;
-wooden corner boards;
-size, style, trim and placement of wooden, pointed arch windows with y-tracery;
-stained glass windows, particularly large window behind altar;
-size, style, trim and placement of exterior wooden doors;
-layout of church, including galleries;
-interior exposed timbers;
-curved, tunnel-like ceiling
-adjacent cemetery, and;
-prominent height and location in Twillingate
All those original interior furnishings, including:
-high pulpit with decorative wooden cusped arches and quatrefoils;
-cherub’s head counterweight on chandelier, from St. James’ Church in Dorset;
-brass candle sconces, from St. James’ Church in Dorset;
-mounted oil lamps on gallery piers, and;
-original 1862 bell.
Location and History
Town of Twillingate
St. Peter's Church Road, Northside
1839 - 1844
Abraham Pearce and William J. Murphy
Rectangular Short Façade