Founded in 1711, this is the oldest continuing Episcopal Parish in Massachusetts. This building is the fourth, the third on this site.
The first building was erected in 1711 on the area known as the ‘Plains’ where Belleville Cemetery on Storey Avenue is now located. A Memorial Cross marks the site of what was the original location of Queen Anne’s Chapel.
The “Plains” congregation in Queen Anne’s Chapel
In 1711 the ‘Plains’ congregation became the established Episcopal Mission in Newbury and was known as Queen Anne’s Chapel.
The Reverend John Lambton, Chaplain of Her Majesty’s Ship Phoenix, came to Newbury on November 14, 1712 and “found a handsome building raised and finished at the sole expense of the inhabitants.” Mr. Lambton reported over 200 souls and upwards, worshipping regularly at the Chapel. In 1714, ill health forced the resignation of Mr. Lambton and he was replaced by the Reverend Henry Lucas who was transferred from Braintree, Massachusetts.
The “Waterside” St. Paul’s Church
The increased importance of seafaring in Newbury added to the number of people at the ‘Waterside’ who felt they would be better comforted in matters religious if they had their own church and minister at the ‘Waterside’. A church was built on our current High Street site and the ‘Waterside’ congregation organized under the name of St. Paul’s Church in 1741.
For several years the Reverend Matthias Plant served both the ‘Plains’ Queen Anne’s Chapel and the ‘Waterside’ St. Paul’s Church. By 1776 Queen Anne’s Chapel at the ‘Plains’ became deserted (the members attended St. Paul’s Church), and soon began to decay and was blown down during a storm.
The Reverend Edward Bass
The Reverend Edward Bass played a most important part in the early history of the church in New England not the least of which was his ability to hold this parish together during the time of the Revolution. In the entrance of the church, there are tablets to the Rite Reverend Edward Bass, D.D., rector of St. Paul’s from 1753-1803. The Rite Reverend Edward Bass was elected the first Bishop of Massachusetts on May 24, 1796 and consecrated on May 7, 1797.
Bishop Bass’s Pastoral charge covered Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. While serving as the first Bishop of Massachusetts, The Reverend Mr. Bass continued as rector of St. Paul’s Church, Newburyport. Today, on the steeple of the church, one sees a bishop’s mitre as a reminder that St. Paul’s Church was the first Bishop’s Church in Massachusetts.
St. Paul’s Church, 1800s Building
|In 1800 the old St. Paul’s Church was torn down and a new building was erected. This new church building, also a wooden structure, was consecrated on October 8, 1800.|
|The interior of this new church building had closed pew boxes as does the current building, and it had balcony that spanned across the back and wrapped around both sides of the sanctuary.|
|This building remained essentially the same until April of 1920 when it was destroyed by fire.||St. Paul’s Church, fire April 27, 1920|
Our Current Church Building
|The corner stone of the present building was laid August 17, 1922 and the church was dedicated November 27, 1923. The church was built of Rockport Granite to match that of St. Anna’s Chapel.||Current St. Paul’s Church building, picture taken circa 1925|
|The interior of the church is in a style of the early American churches; the closed pews, the wall tablets, the wine-glass pulpit and the reredo in the form of a triptych containing the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Apostles’ Creed (in universal use in the colonial Episcopal Churches as required by Canon Law since James I). Unique in St. Paul’s Church are the petite-point cushions, the design of which was copied from the cathedral in Angiers, France. The cushions were made by Mrs. Frederick Mosley from 1938 to 1943 and presented as a memorial to her husband.||Interior of current St. Paul’s Church building, Easter 1977, photograph by Mr. William Sorenson|
Historical Artifacts on Display
In the Narthex (entryway) of the church there are a few treasured relics from the past; the weathervane over the entrance door is from the 1711 Queen Anne’s Chapel, the Bishop’s Mitre and the Paul Revere Bell (hung in the steeple from 1811-1899) are both from the 1800 church that was destroyed by fire in 1920.