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First Episcopal Election

First Episcopal Election
Plaque no. 61
Date of plaque unveiling
27 May 2007
472 Richmond Street, London, Ontario (present site of St. Paul's Cathedral)

The plaque is located to the left of the main entrance.

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The construction of St. Paul’s Anglican Church began in 1829. The Rev. Edward Jukes Boswell chose two half-acre lots in the centre of the growing settlement of London, Ontario, and began to build the wooden structure that would eventually become the church. However, that was not to be the church’s final location.

In the early 1830s, the Rev. Benjamin Cronyn sold the original lots of land and bought a larger plot of less expensive land northeast of the initial location. The still unfinished wooden frame of the church was placed on sleighs and pulled by oxen to its new home. In September of 1834, St. Paul’s Church was complete and was ready to receive its congregation.

On Ash Wednesday in 1844 (February 21), St. Paul’s Church was destroyed by a fire. The church’s spire toppled down and the new church bell dropped from the steeple with a tremendous sound that was heard for a considerable distance. The recently made church organ - the very first in London – was also lost in the blaze. 

The church was soon rebuilt. The new church had ornate windows, elegant arches and a tower reaching 114 feet into the air. The pinnacles and doorways of the church were accented by stone gargoyles. The church’s foundations were made of concrete, and the structure itself was built of bricks made from clay dug from a designated area of the churchyard. The new St. Paul’s Church was formally dedicated on Ash Wednesday, 1846       (February 25).

In 1851, St. Paul’s Church took up a subscription and was able to purchase a peal of six church bells. These bells were made by the English company of C. and G. Mears of London. The first of their kind in Ontario, the bells arrived in Port Stanley in 1852 and were transported to London by oxcart. In 1901 the bells would be replaced by a chime of ten bells, which in turn would be recast into a chime of eleven bells in 1935.

In 1857, the synod of the young Anglican Diocese of Huron met at St. Paul’s Church to elect a bishop. While bishops had previously been government officers, the English Crown was now removing itself from involvement in ecclesiastical matters. As result, the clergy and followers of the Anglican Church were left to find alternative methods of selecting bishops. The election that took place in London in 1857 was a solution to this new state of affairs. With the naming of the Rev. Benjamin Cronyn as the Bishop of Huron, St. Paul’s Church became St. Paul’s Cathedral, the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Huron.