Trivitt Memorial, Exeter, Ontario

Trivitt Memorial, Exeter St John the Evangelist, Kitchener Christ Church, Meaford St John's, Sandwich Old Saint Paul's, Woodstock

Trivitt Memorial, Exeter, Ontario264 Main Street South
Exeter, Ontario

The Rev. Brad Dunbar
(appointed lay pastor effective 15 January 2008.   He became rector when he was ordained to the priesthood 4 June 2008)

The present building is the second Anglican church in Exeter, Ontario.   The first, Christ Church, was off on a back street near the present day fair grounds.   The first recorded assembly of Anglican worshippers dates back to 1859, when they gathered in a schoolhouse on the London Road (Highway 4) south of town.   Christ Church was built in 1860, was used until 1888.   By 1886, the building was too small to accommodate the congregation of the day: three services on a Sunday, filled to capacity.

Thomas Trivitt, Justice of the Peace in Huron County and a long time member of Christ Church, had inherited a substantial estate.   He offered to build a new and larger church if it was agreed that the church be named Trivitt Memorial, an anniversary service was held each September.
The plans for the new building cost $1,500.00, and were based on a portion of Exeter Cathedral in England.   It was the custom at the time that pew rent was collected but at the new building all pews were free.

Christ Church closed its doors on December 16, 1888.   One week later, on December 23, the bell rang at 7:30 am in the tower of the new building to call people to the first service at 8:00 am.   Four services in total were held that day, with a total attendance of 2,700.   Confirmation that afternoon attracted 850, and Evensong that evening found 1,200 people in attendance.

Bell tower stands 92 feet high, and includes 5 floors.   The fourth floor houses a chime of 20 bells, with the playing apparatus located on the second floor.

The east window contains three panels showing the glorified Christ in the centre, flanked by David and St. John, each panel being topped by a trefoil, and the three panels surmounted by three quatrefoils.

The west rose window is nearly 20 feet in diameter, and contains a pelican in the centre: a symbol of Atonement. The pelican is seen feeding her young with her blood by tearing a hole in her breast.   The pelican is surrounded by St. Catherine's wheel, a symbol of the resurrection.   The curved panes represent fish scales - the fish being a symbol of the early Christian communities.   The panel under the rose contains the Trivitt coat of arms, 3 sets of 3 circles (Trevets), that are found throughout the building.

Above: Nave looking east

Above: Nave looking west
With the opening of this magnificent worship space, Christ Church closed its doors for good.   The rector of the day, the Rev. S.J.Robinson, noted: Never handsome, never comfortable, never churchly in appearance yet still it was hallowed by the prayers of a generation. ... To what unworthy uses in a degenerate and irreverent age the old gallery and floors may be put one cannot conjecture.   It never had a chancel and for this omission we thank God.   Christ Church became a display building at the annual fair until it was torn down in 1939.

St John's-by-the-Lake, Grand Bend, OntarioTrivitt Memorial is presently part of a two-point parish including St. John's-by-the-Lake in Grand Bend (shown right).   Like all parishes, it has had its good times and its not so good times.   Recently, Trivitt was the recipient of very large bequest, and the parish has set out to benefit the church worldwide with a gift to our companion diocese in South Africa in the form of an AIDS Hospice, the Diocese of Huron by aid to Habitat for Humanity, theological education and Huron Church Camp, and in the Exeter community with help to the local hospital, nursing home and the music programme.

July 2007 Photostory by Fr. Michael Atkins
(former rector St Luke's Broughdale, London, Ontario)
My thanks to Marion Astle, Audrey Bentley and Bob Luxton for the time they gave up to show me the facility and talk about its history.