Description of Historic Place
Built circa 1873, the Christ Anglican Church Rectory is a large building that rests on a knoll beside its church at the beginning of the Forties Road in New Ross, Nova Scotia. The municipal heritage designation applies to the building and surrounding property.
The Christ Anglican Church Rectory is valued for its age, architecture and historical associations. Built circa 1873, this building is somewhat unique for its sheer size, which demonstrates the congregation’s commitment to attracting a reverend for their church by offering comfortable housing. The rectory has a vernacular style with very little ornamentation, although it does feature several modified Gothic Revival characteristics including a steeply pitched gable roof with the ridgeline facing the road, moderate eave overhangs and paired Gothic Revival inspired windows in the peaks of the gable. These windows consist of a rectangular pane topped by a triangular pane creating a simplified Gothic Revival inspired arch form.
One element that contributes to the home’s vernacular architecture is the addition of a large sun porch that spans most of the front elevation. The addition contributes to the home’s continued use as a rectory because it continues the tradition of providing a comfortable residence for the church’s rectors. A small cross gable dormer is centrally located over the sun porch; its placement and design reflect the modified Gothic Revival themes of the rectory and its church.
The first clergyman to live in the home, Reverend Joseph Norwood, moved into the rectory as it was being completed; however, the completion of the rectory was not Norwood’s primary concern. Instead Norwood focused his attention on the construction of a new larger church, his sermons, and tending to the medical needs of the community. It is not clear that Rev. Norwood had any formal medical training, but he is noted as acting as a doctor for his parish.
While living in New Ross he and his wife had two sons and a daughter, all of whom were born in the rectory. Both of his sons, Robert Winkworth (1874) and Edmund Bambrick (1876) followed in their fathers footsteps. Robert was ordained and became a noted preacher in the United States and presided over the Parish of St. Bartholomew’s in New York, while Edmund studied medicine at Dalhousie University and became a doctor. The success of both men helped to keep the Norwood name prominent in the community for many years after their father’s departure in 1879.
Although Rev. Joseph Norwood only stayed in New Ross for five years he had become so well respected that when another community, Norwood Settlement, was started nearby it was named in his honour. Although the settlement was renamed Fraxville circa 1906, the New Ross Masonic lodge is still named, Norwood Lodge demonstrating a continued admiration for the family in the community.
Perhaps the most intriguing historical association with the rectory is that of the “Lady in Grey,” an apparition, that according to local folklore, appeared before Mrs. Norwood late one evening to console her that her husband was safe after failing to return in the evening as planned from visiting one of his parishioners. Rev. Norwood returned the next day just as the apparition had guaranteed he would. There are several variations of the story, some of which are presented in Helen Creighton’s “Bluenose Ghosts.”
Source: Municipality of the District of Chester Heritage Property Files
The character-defining elements of Christ Anglican Church Rectory relate to its modified Gothic Revival architecture and include:
- granite foundation;
- steeply pitched gabled roof with the ridgeline facing the Forties Road;
- small cross-gabled dormer placed above large sun porch that runs almost the entire length of the home;
- Gothic Revival inspired modified arch window comprised of three rectangular panes topped by three panes that form a large triangular pane in the peak of the cross gable;
- paired Gothic Revival inspired modified arch windows formed by a rectangular pane topped by a triangular pane located near the peak of the gabled ends;
- symmetrical façades of the south and east elevations typical of Gothic Revival homes.