St. Mary's Episcopal Church
In the Village of Barnstable, MA 02630
Contact us: 508-362-3977
3055 Main Street P.O. Box 395
stmary@cape.com
 
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The History Of Saint Mary's

We Welcome You to our Past, our Present and our Future!

buildingThe original building of the church has been enlarged three times to accommodate its growing congregation. Since 1891, St. Mary’s has grown from a “little weather-stained house of prayer with twenty-five people who were familiar with the service” to one of the most distinctive quaint and beautiful churches in the Northeast, extending Christian love, strength, grace and beauty to its more than 1,000 members and to the thousands of visitors who have joined them in the worship of God.

The church was built in early rural English style, according to the plans of W.R. Emerson of Boston, on land given in memory of Mary Kearney Cobb.  

On July 5, 1891 the first service was held. The Church, however, was not consecrated, because of the deaths of local bishops, until St. Bartholomew’s day in 1893! On that day, vacationing Right Reverend James S. Johnson, Bishop of Western Texas, performed the service of consecration. Most services were held in the summer only, with the clergy being imported from Boston. In 1895, the Grace Church Monthly of New Bedford reported, “St. Mary’s, Barnstable, is the outpost and nucleus for missionary labour”!

windowSt. Mary’s church has grown from its humble beginnings to its present complex of church, parish hall, gardens, educational building and rectory. These are the physical realities, but substantial growth such as this can only take place when the Spirit takes hold of devoted Christians with vision and resources, identifies the needs and moves purposefully towards it fulfillment. A Book of Remembrance, recording the many memorials benefiting St. Mary’s, is in the Narthex. Among them are the handsome doors, finely carved by Quentin R. Muson of Barnstable Village, which welcomed all to St. Mary’s Church for many years. The cover of the Baptismal Font, adorned with bronze dolphins and shells was the creation of sculptor William Bocgar.

On the west wall, just above the baptismal font is a beautiful stained glass ‘three light’ window, completed on Dec. 5, 1956 by Charles J. Connick. It is “devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, crowned and holding the Christ Child, with the Nativity and the Flight into Egypt”. Another Connick creation, dated June 1960, on the north wall of the transept, is “the four seasons, with small figures of flowers, garden implements, trees, etc. on a warm simple background”. A third Connick window installed in April 1979 in the north wall of the rear of the chancel, depicts Christ Blessing the Children.

St. Mary's Creche

Spotlight on Harriet Stockton Worthington

St. Mary's CrecheDuring Advent and Christmas, Saint Mary’s crèche, crafted by Harriet StocktonWorthington, is displayed. Many of us have looked with wonder at this nativity scene and asked how it was created.  As Mrs. Worthington tells the story, she is probably the last person left at Saint Mary’s to have worked with Robert Nicholson.  He
fashioned the gardens out of a swamp, and she restored many art objects he brought back from his foreign travels.  It was this collaboration that resulted in the crèche. She says, “Robert and I made the crèche together.  He built the manger and the “shed” while Harriet made the crèche figures.

This collaborative effort involved two added pieces each year for about 10 years.  Father Nicholson brought back the head of cattle that are lowing in the background.  When he arrived with sheep from Italy, Harriet made more sheep. The umbrella above the head of one of the Magi was fashioned by Father Nicholson out of a tiny funnel which is turned upside down. 

I became acquainted with Harriet last Christmas.  By accident I broke one of the golden angels at the entrance of the library.  The Holly Fair Greens Group spread out into the bell tower hall and with too much bustle, I hit one of the posts sending one angel crashing to the floor and breaking into pieces.  I was crestfallen about the accident, and Steve and I talked about the possibility of Harriet repairing it.  I felt grace had descended when she said she had a 6-week window after Christmas and could restore the angel.  By springtime she completed the difficult job of reconstructing not just one but both angels, and Jon Ferguson secured the posts for remounting them. Harriet, Steve, Jon and I blessed this gift of love with prayers when we raised them to their lofty positions –overseeing the entrance to the library.

St. Mary's CrecheThe broken angel led me to meeting this wonderful and spritely artist. Harriet came originally from Ohio to the Cape to be a house mother at the Episcopal school on Pine Street.  Her two brothers, 4 and 12 went to this boarding school.  The students had chapel in the morning and vespers at night.  Harriet told me with a twinkle in her eye, “In those days sometimes the only parishioners at a Saint Mary’s service were the students from the Abbie Loveland Tuller School.” (The Rev. Mark Anschutz remembers as a boy seeing the nuns and students walking two by two down the Old Kings Highway to Saint Mary’s.)  

Harriet’s work as a sculptor grew out of her education at the Toledo Museum School, as a student of the Cape sculptor Arnold Geissbuhler, at the Brooklyn Museum School and at the University of Florence where she studied art history and sculpted on the side.  Harriet laughs about the nuns in post-war Italy who asked her to reconstruct art pieces in their abbeys and chapels.  She was always able to handle the most outlandish requests – like taking “tessorae”(tiny mosaic tiles on fabric) off a ceiling and retouching church manuscripts. 

Being of English descent and having spent 25 years in England with her husband Barton, Harriet brings to Saint Mary’s a respect for the Anglican tradition of the crèche and the greens in the Lady Chapel. Her sculpture also includes the boy Christ in the St. Mary’s gardens and the original St. Michael angel (which is different from the present one on the summer house.) We are grateful to Harriet for the many gifts she brought to Saint Mary’s in her collaboration with Robert Wood Nicholson.  

With gratitude to Harriet,
Becky McClenahan
Greens Group

Editor’s note: Since this writing, Harriet has re-sculpted a number of items in St. Mary‘s gardens, most notably the cornucopia that sits over the frog pond.  We will never forget Harriet, outfitted in waders no less, descending into the frog pond, to touch up the cornucopia after its re-installation.  

 

Visit our Garden Page or take a Windows Tour of St. Mary's Stained Glass

History of Rococo Silver Chalice and St. Mary's Kneelers

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