Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Country Church

It sits beside the road, a wrought-iron fence defining its space. It's Carpenter Gothic, one of a multitude of churches built in Gothic-revival style architecture. Completed in 1887, it has been in more or less continuous use since. Once painted church-house white, it has since been restored to its original Victorian colors. Cedar shakes recreate the original roof.

The interior has seen little alteration.

The painted and stained-glass window was imported from Germany and installed in 1889. The fleur-de-lis patterns on the wall of the apse were painted using milk paint and have never required retouching. The building's carpenter also built the primitive chancel furniture.

A rood beam separates the chancel from the nave (rood is an old-English word for cross) with the Greek letters Chi and Rho symbolically placing Christ on the cross.

The original lighting, imported from England, burned oil and required frequent refilling. It was converted to electricity in the 1950s.

The St. Andrew's Cross medallions on the ends of the pews remember the American Episcopal Church's indebtedness to the Anglican Church of Scotland.

An 1849 Harmonium organ donated by the first Rector and his family provided musical accompaniment for a century. It's thin, reedy sound was both distinctive of this church and easily drowned out by congregational singing. It is now a museum piece, placed in the rear of the church, just inside the narthex.

Christ Church-Episcopal, Rugby, Tennessee, offers one weekly service at 11:00 a.m. eastern, Sundays. The building is also on the daily guided tours offered by Historic Rugby, Inc. Visit the Historic Rugby web site for details.

For an explanation of the church architectural  terms used, click here.

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