St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
158 Warren Street, Beverly, NJ 08010
(609) 387-0169

Service Schedule
Sunday - 8:00 am................................ Holy Eucharist (Chapel)
Sunday - 9:00 am..............................................Holy Eucharist
Wednesday - 10:00 am........................ Holy Eucharist (Chapel)

About

History of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

A Brief History of St. Stephen's

The congregation of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church was formed in 1837 when forty-four families made a request of Bishop Doane of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey for services of the church in the community of Beverly in the township of Willingborough. The first church was a white frame building with an adjacent cemetery erected on Cooper Street. The cemetery still exists today. When the City of Beverly was incorporated in 1857, St. Stephen's established some twenty years earlier, would become Beverly's first church.

By 1853, the congregation had outgrown the original wood church and land was purchased at the corner of Warren and Wilmerton Streets for a new structure. This new property not only allowed for the construction of a larger more elaborate church, it also increased the prominence of the parish by its location on Warren Street, a main transportation corridor between Beverly, Burlington City and other industrial river towns. On October 1, 1855, the present St. Stephen's Church was consecrated by the second bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey, the Right Reverend George W. Doane.

Gothic Revival in New Jersey

Built between 1853 and 1855, St. Stephen's represents a period in church architecture that sought to revive the spirit of the Gothic parish church, creating a worship space that was both spiritually reverential while at the same time expressing an architectural vocabulary of rational truth; in the building's ornament, materials and plan.

This return to the English Gothic architectural form was promoted in the 1830's in England and was at its height in America when St. Stephen's was constructed. The Ecclesiology movement was a reaction to a period in church history when architectural form of new churches became increasingly variable. The Ecclesiology movement feared this informality and inconsistency distracted from the basic moral and theological mission of the church.

The Basic principles underlying the Ecclesiological model church, which are exemplified in St. Stephen's, are a simple plan, basic materials and ornament that is complimentary to the overall simplicity of the church. The plan of the Ecclesiological church is simple: the nave(the portion of the church containing the center aisle and pews) and the chancel (the portion of the church containing the altar and choir). Ideally, the materials of the church should be stone, but wood could be used wit the hope that the means to afford stone would become available in the future. The ornament of St. Stephen's, both simple and elegant in its execution, illustrates the restrained propriety the Ecclesiologists used in creating the medieval sense of the place they felt most spiritually truthful in a place of worship.

The Church Interior

While much has changed outside the walls of St. Stephen's Church since its construction, the church interior that you can see is similar to what visitors have been seeing for the better part of 150 years. The photographs show the view looking through the nave to the altar from just inside of the church interior doors.

At the ceiling, you will see the hybrid truss-arch system of roof support that resembles the inside of a ship's hull. Though these structural timbers seem massive, they are actually secondary to the main rafters which are buried under the ceiling plaster.

Church interior in the late 19th century. Interior 19th century

 

Church interior in the early 20th century. Interior early 20th century

 

Church interior today. Interior today

The Parish Hall

St. Stephen’s Parish Hall was constructed in 1897. While stone and spires of the church reflect the Ecclesiology movements use of gothic architecture, the half timbering, stucco and patterned brick panels that faced the exterior of the Parish Hall reflected an Arts and Crafts architecture that was widespread in the first two decades of the 20th century. Inside the Parish Hall complex are offices, Sunday School classrooms, meeting rooms and a chapel and events included public concerts, lectures and social gatherings. The Parish Hall today remains a well used place for church activities and also fro a variety of community type activities unrelated to St. Stephens’s Parish. Adaptive re-use has included the addition of a kitchen and modern bathroom facilities.

Stained Glass

The windows of any historic building are important not only because they help define the style of the architecture, they also provide clues to the age of the building by the advancement of glass technology used in their creation.  The collection of stained glass windows of St. Stephen's Church which is in excellent overall condition, displays a historically significant range of stained glass styles from the 1850's into the early 20th century.  Generally, the age of the windows range from the oldest located in the chancel to the newest located in the vestibule. Below are examples of the five types of windows in St. Stephen's along with a floor plan to show where they are in the church.

 

Window Style 1

(Style 1) Dating from the 1850- 60's American Gothic style with textured muffle and reeded glass patterning, now unusual in the United States.

 

Windows Style 4

(Style 4) Dating circa 1925 of American and possibly English studio production. Exemplary use of streaky glass technique and uncommon examples of English-style Arts & Crafts church window glass in America.

Window Style 2

(Style 2) Dating from 1897 to 1902, probably from the New York glass studio of J. & R. Lamb, a rival of the Tiffany glass studio by 1900.

Floor Plan

Window Style 5

(Style 5) Dating form 1970's to 80's from the Cherry Hill New Jersey studio of F. Paul Skelly.

 

 

 

Window Style 3

(Style 3) Dating circa 1900 from unknown English studio using English-style streaky glass technique.

 
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Copyright © 2010 St. Stephens Episcopal Church
Last Updated: March 17, 2013