St John's Anglican Cathedral

St John's Anglican Cathedral
The Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Divine, St. John's, Antigua, West Indies

Monday, January 31, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sanctuary and Chapel Floors Demolition Part 3

Memorial Chapel

Air Inlets under Sanctuary Floor

Air Inlets under Sanctuary Floor cont.

Brick and Wood Sanctuary Floor Beam

Cracks in Sanctuary Floor Beam

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Tomb of Mary Gilbert

"Here lies interred
the body of Mary
most deserving wife of
Nath! Gilbert jun!
She was born in London
Sep! 12th 1726
and died in Antigua
the 16th July 1747
in the 22nd year of her Age"

A note by the late Dean George Stanley Baker in his publication "Three Hundred Years of Witness" indicated that, "This spot is probably part of the Chancel of the former Church and the stone slab was no doubt re-laid in the Cathedral approximately over the place in which the coffin was originally interred.  Mrs. Gilbert was the wife of Nathaniel Gilbert who did much work to establish the Methodism in Antigua."  (Cathedral Website)

Methodism in the Caribbean

It is generally accepted that Methodism came to the Caribbean in 1760 by a planter from Antigua, named Nathaniel Gilbert.  Gilbert was a lawyer, the owner of two sugar estates in Antigua and the Speaker of the Antiguan House of Assembly.  He was, prior to his religious experience, very suspicious of and averse to anything that savoured of "enthusiasm".
Sometime in 1755, Nathaniel Gilbert was ill and sent his daughter Mary, who was five years old to fetch a certain book from another room. While we do not know what book he wanted, the book that Mary brought to him was a treatise of John Wesley, "An Appeal to men of Reason and Religion."  This had been sent to him by his brother Francis and was in fact not the book he had wanted at the time.  However, with time on his hands, the ill Nathaniel Gilbert read it and was never the same man again. (The Methodist Church in the Caribbean)

I find it fascinating that three years after the death of his wife, Nathanial Gilbert sired, presumably by his second wife, a girl child and named her Mary as well.  Sadly according to the biography of Gilbert's seventh child William Gilbert, she died in 1768 in England at the age of 17, a full four years younger than her name sake.

Sanctuary and Chapel Floors Demolition Part 2

The stone floor slabs under the Blessed Sacrement and Memorial Chapels were a foot lower than the floor under the Sanctuary.  They were made level by a raised wooden floor.  We removed the wooden floors today.  With the flooring in the Memorial Chapel now removed we could now gaze at the tomb of Mary Gilbert, wife of Nathaniel Gilbert the founder of Methodism in Antigua.

The workers were in awe again today as I withheld this little tid bit from yesterday's discussion.  I knew this was going to be revealed once they resumed work this morning.  I dare say none of us will be the same after this restoration.  To God be the Glory.

Blessed Sacrement Chapel Floor

Memorial Chapel Floor

Mary Gilbert's Tomb

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Sense of Awe

The workers were surprised today when I told them of the significance of the wooden propeller that hangs over the Memorial Chapel.  They did not realise that it was from the First World War (1914 -1918).  So I regaled them with the exploits of Capt. Ian Donald Roy McDonald the Antiguan born quadruple ace.  A young Grammer School boy who answered his Mother country's call to arms and became part of a notable generation who sacrificed much in that Great War. 

As we laboured to restore God's house, we all connected over oceans of time to a generation that came before our parents and among the younger of us our grandparents.  They never new that Antiguans played such parts in world history. 

The love that motivated Capt. McDonald's parents to place this memorial has reached out, touched us and filled us with a sense of awe.  I can't help but think that our Heavenly Father looked down on us and smiled.

Capt. MacDonald's Propeller

Sanctuary and Chapel Floors Demolition Part 1

The Sanctuary and Chapel floors are identical in construction to the aisles.  Therefore, in time, they will suffer the same fate of sagging and then eventually collapsing.  These floors will be demolished and reconstructed with polished coloured concrete.  The demolition has begun.

 Blessed Sacrement Chapel Floor

Chancel Steps to the Sanctuary

Sanctuary Floor that was under the High Altar

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pillar Foundation

This morning we found a pillar foundation, complete with the remanents of the pillar, buried in fill beneath the pews that sat directly in front of the Sanctuary.  Given the abscence of any structure there that would require such a support, we concluded that this maybe the foundation of a pillar that supported the roof of the second church (a description of which can be seen here).
Pillar Foundations

Close Up Of Pillar Foundations

Wood removed from Pillar Foundations

Monday, January 17, 2011

Raise the Font II

All Set

Strapped to the Roof Beams

Lift Off

Base Removal

Base Removal cont.

Floor Slab Removal

Mission Accomplished

The font is a survivor of the 1843 earthquake.  It is made of limestone and it easily chips and cracks.  Heavy as the pieces were they all had to be handled with care.  This process was very labour intensive. It was probably very similar to how it was assembled in the first place.   

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Raise the Font

This is the setup that will raise the font so that we can have access to the floor beneath it.  The actual lift will take place on Monday.

Change in Project Scope

We are currently reassessing the scope of this phase of the project. 

The roof timbers were in worse shape than we feared.  We have only just sourced this lumber.  It will be another three to four weeks for it to get here.

Damaged Roof Timbers
The removal of these timber necessitates the removal of the ceiling.  This is just as well as the years of accumulated bat droppings have made almost all of them unsalvageable.  However this makes the work environment more hazardous as bat droppings carry diseases.  Extra steps will have to be taken to protect the workers.

25 Foot High Ceilings
We have decided that we will not use wooden floor joists for the pew flooring.  We will instead back fill the area under thepews and cast a concrete floor.  The wooden pew decking will be fastened to the concree to preserve the orginal  look.  The concrete floor will actually be cheaper than reinstalling wooden joists and act as a further barrier to subterranean termites.

Termite Damaged Wooden Floor Joists