Extra Research for Season 6 – Episode 5 – The Bishop’s Wife
Construction on Christ Church Anglican Cathedral started in 1845 in Fredericton, New Brunswick and the was officially done and consecrated seven years later. Known for Gothic Revival architecture, the National Historical Site was modelled after St. Mary’s Church in Snettisham, Norfolk. The imposing stone structure features elaborately carved archways and bright stained-glass windows designed by 19th century British artisan William Wailes. The east window, which sparkles in the morning sun, host seven panels depicting Christ and six of his apostles.
The original plans for the structure featured a wooden spire, covered in zinc, that would stand 198 feet tall, but concerns about the strength of the building’s foundation forced the spire to be shrunk by about 26 feet. However, after a devastating fire in 1911 that destroyed much of the spire, the foundation was reinforced so the feature could be rebuilt to its original height.
Not visible from the outside is an exact prototype of the clock that lives in what is now known as Big Ben. Resting above the choir, it is about four feet in diameter and, to this day, still needs to be wound by hand – a job shared by three people on a monthly basis. After some neighbourly complaints in 2007, the clock stopped ringing its hourly chime but still rings the Westminster chime at regular intervals.
Fredericton’s First Bishop
John Medley was born in England and, after the death of his father, was set on a path towards the cloth. As a clergyman for the Church of England (Anglican) in the diocese of Exeter, where he oversaw the restoration of several church buildings. He had strong opinions on church architecture and supplied many of the designs for Christ Church Cathedral, many of which had to be adjusted due to construction times and dwindling funds.
He and his first wife, Christiana Bacon, a daughter of the sculptor John Bacon, had seven children together. Christiana died in 1841 from tuberculosis, and after a few years living as a widower, Medley met his second wife, Margaret Hudson at the parish of St Thomas, Exeter. She followed him back to Canada where the two were wed in 1863.
On May 4, 1845, he became the official first Bishop of Fredericton. His traditionalist Anglo-Catholic views meant his welcome in New Brunswick was not entirely warm. Known for it’s highly held congregationalist perspectives, in which each congregation is self-governing, Medley was able to foster supporters by encouraging the coexistence of both high and low church Anglicans across the diocese.
– Jane Caulfield