Our History

The Rev, Henry Caner, first rector of St. Paul’s (1737-1738)

The historic parish of St. Paul’s, Norwalk, Connecticut, was founded in 1737 by a priest missionary sent out to the colonies from London by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG). The first clergyman to minister to this young parish was the Rev. Henry Caner, who was born in England about 1700 and emigrated to New Haven, where he attended Yale University and graduated from there in 1724. He lived in Fairfield and, before the Revolution, was recognized as the leader of the Anglican clergy in America. He and his brother Richard were important figures in the early history of the town of Fairfield, and Richard became the first installed rector of St. Paul’s. Henry returned to England and was ordained there to the priesthood, following which time he returned again to America and visited Norwalk as early as 1729.

St. Paul’s in the 1920’s

The present church building is the fifth erected on this site.The first, about which we have very little information, was built as a temporary building about 1733-1734, and was later converted to a parsonage and then torn down in 1806. The second structure was a small church begun about 1742 and completed in 1761. On July 11, 1779, it was destroyed by fire at the command of General Tryon who, at the same time, ordered the burning of the town of Norwalk.

The Rev. Samuel Seabury, first Bishop of the American Church.

Following the burning of the church in the Revolution, a temporary church was built in 1780, followed by the erection of the third church in 1785 on the foundation of the former building. This church was pewed and furnished in 1786, and was consecrated by the first Anglican bishop in America, Samuel Seabury, on July 15 of the same year. Heretofore, there had been no bishops in the American Anglican church.

The Third church edifice, erected in 1785, with the parsonage that was converted from the original church building on the site. As the parish grew, it was soon evident that a larger church was needed. Its cornerstone was laid in 1840, and was built of wood in the Carpenter Gothic style. It was a frame church that measured 77 by 55 feet. At the same time, a rectory was built adjacent to the church and is still standing, the exterior of which has recently been renovated. This fourth church, with a tower and 150-foot steeple, survived until 1927, when it was torn down.
The fourth church, 1840

The cornerstone of the present—fifth— church building was laid on November 12, 1927, by the Right Rev. Frederick Llewelyn Dean, Lord Bishop of Aberdeen and the Orkneys, Scotland. This Scottish bishop, rather than an American bishop, performed the ceremony due to the connection of this parish with Scotland, for it was here, rather than in England, that Samuel Seabury was consecrated a bishop. The church is built of stone, in the Decorated Gothic style, modeled on a 13th-century small English country church.

The Reverend Louis B. Howell, 24th Rector (1909-1936)

It was consecrated on June 9, 1930, by the Right Rev. Chauncey B. Brewster, fifth Bishop of Connecticut, and was completed during the rectorship of the Rev. Louis B. Howell. The P.L. Fowler architectural firm of Trenton, New Jersey, was the designer.

The Holy Family by Frank DuMond

The interior of the church contains many artistic and historical treasures, notably five murals executed by the artist D. Putnam Brinley of New Canaan, Connecticut, and a large painting of the Holy Family by the famous artist Frank Vincent DuMond.

Colonial Altar Table

The table which forms part of the shrine to St. Paul, on the left-hand side of the chancel, was the altar of the third church edifice; it was built, in Colonial times, as a tavern table. The Lady Chapel has a rare stained glass window circa 15th century (middle window on the side wall), along with other fine examples of English and American stained glass workmanship. The furnishings and fixtures of the church are of the finest quality and add to the beauty of this sacred building.

15th Century Stained Glass

St. Paul’s has been a witness to the Norwalk community for 260 years. The dramatic neo-Gothic setting with its exquisite stained glass windows, excellent acoustics, and fine E.M. Skinner tracker organ create an atmosphere conducive to prayer, contemplation, and celebration. Dignified liturgy and outstanding music characterize our worship. We profess the Apostolic faith, the historic creeds, the sacraments, Holy Scripture, and the ordained ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons. St. Paul’s is a diverse community. This makes for a wonderful tapestry of worshipers of all ages and socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.

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