St John's Anglican Cathedral

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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Floor Beam Replacement

Termite Damaged Beam

Termite Damaged Beam Close up

Measuring and Cutting the New Beams

Wooden Dowels Drilled Out

Jacking Up the Upper Balconies

New Beam Ready for Insertion

New Beam Installed

New Beam

Saturday, February 26, 2011

In the Nick of Time

The beams arrived on the 24th February, literally hours before the arrival of the work team.  The large beams are the 12" x 12" ones that will replace those in the damaged sections in the perimiter of the building.
Container with Beams outside the Churchyard wall
Beams inside container
Getting the beams into the churchyard required the use of a crane. 

Damaged Floor Beams

There are a number of floor beams that run on top of the stone foundation walls.  I mentioned these in a previous post as being part of the post and beam framework of the inner Church.  These beams, inspite of their being greenheart wood, have been damaged in various places by termites and wood rot. This is especially so in those areas where they got wet from the leaking roof. 
Wooden Floor Beam
Disintergrated Floor Beam in front of the Blessed Sacrement Altar

After weeks of heated discussions the technical team finally settled on replacing them with new greenheart beams.  The challenge is to get beams cut to this length and to these dimensions.  Not to mention that the removal and replacement of these beams is further complicated by the fact that the columns that support the upper balconies and roof, rest on them.
Column resting on damaged wood floor beam

We had to order these beams right away as a work team from St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Fernandina Beach, Fl. has been diverted to us.  These men routinely visit the Caribbean to engage in construction  projects.  Typically they replace roofs on churches that need them and they were heading to Barbuda to do just that.  However  Barbuda was not ready in time for them so they were diverted to us.  We rush ordered the beams in the hope that they will get here in time for the team.  The team was scheduled to arrive on the 24th February. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Brass Candelabrum

Candelabrum in the 1990's
"The Reverend Philip Darby, probably a former Curate of St. John's, by his will, dated 2nd May, 1740, bequeathed a sum of £30 to be used in purchasing a brass candelabrum to be given to the Parish Church of St. John by his executors. Owing to fear of fire, Evening Services were not allowed in the Cathedral until 1886. The candelabrum, however, was placed in the centre aisle of the old Parish Church.
Candelabrum prior to 1886
"The Vestry, on January 20th, 1848, authorised the sale of this candelabrum, but apparently no purchaser could be found. In 1861 the Government borrowed the candelabrum and installed it at the Court House on the occasion of a State Ball held there when Prince Alfred visited Antigua. There it remained until 1886, when Mr. William Forrest, a member of the Vestry, suggested that Bishop Branch should request the Government to restore it. Mr. Forrest at his own expense had it converted for use with lamps instead of candles. It was inadvisable to have lamps on all the branches of the candelabrum; the unnecessary ones were there­fore used as bracket lamps, and at the time attached to the columns under the galleries. This candelabrum is said to be a very fine example of brass work, made in sections and fitted together. It is inscribed: The Gift of Mr. Philip Darby to the Parish Church of St. John's."  (A. Layman, 1933,  Antigua The Story of the Cathedral and Parish Church of St. John 1678-1932)
Candelabrum circa 1914
Missing branches as fixtures in the Sanctuary
I am intrigued by the the picture of the the candelabrum in its original configuration to hold candles.  Not only are we seeing a picture of it with all its branches but we are seeing an interesting ceiling in the background.  I am trying to determine if this is the roof of the second church or the court house.  That will determine if this picture was taken prior to 1843, when the second church was destroyed, or between 1861 and 1886 when it was hanging in the Court house.  The picture came from Dean Baker's book, Three Hundred Years of Witness.

The second church

Court House 1750

Monday, February 14, 2011

Henry Young Shepherd

Henry Young Shepherd was born in 1858 in Barbados and studied at Codrington College.  He had an unbroken service at the Cathedral for 66 years. He was Dean from 1906 - 1930.  He was still giving regular assitence at Services until his death in 1947. 

The Chief Diocesan Missioner commented in 1928 that while Archbishop Hutson was most respected, Dean Shepherd was most loved.  Bishop Hand was to later write about him, "With the heart of a child he goes in and out among us, full of vigour, radiating love and sympathy, bringing brightness and sunshine into the lives of those among whom he dwells."

It is amazing that a man who had given so much, would continue to give after losing his sons, even to the end of his days.  To God be the Glory.


I have long been haunted by the propeller that hangs in the Memorial Chapel.  I have made at least two posts on the young man in whose memory it hangs, Capt. Ian Donald Roy McDonaldA Sense of Awe.    Armistice Day - Lest we forget  I have now found two more.  In a booklet entitled, "The Story of the Cathedral and Parish of St. John 1678 - 1932" by A. Layman (no doubt a pseudonym), it says that a silver paten and chalice were presented by Dean and Mrs. Shepherd. Inscribed on the back was:

To the glory of God and in proud and loving memory
 of our two sons, Leut. A.L.M. Shepherd and R.M.S. Shepherd, R.A.F. 
Killed in Action 1916

I have found Leut A.L.M. Shepherd listed at a website listing Caribbean Airmen killed in WWI.(Caribbean Airforce Casualties WWI)  He flew with 11 Squadron and at the time probably flew the two seater aircraft the Fe-2b.
  The Fe-2b was an important aircraft in that it helped to create a measure of air superiority for the British from the late summer of 1915 to the spring of 1916.  However that advantage ended when the Germans introduced more modern fighters in the autumn of 1916.  It was during this time that the 25 year old Authur Shepherd met his end on the 3rd November 1916.

I am still looking for his  brother.