Built in 1822, and featured in an 1841 Bartlett print, St Mark’s is a small, beautiful National Treasure.
The church was erected by the work of the congregation, on land donated by Elias Smith, the founder of Port Hope.
From 1852 to 1895, this is how the church looked.
Inside, there were galleries in the rear and along both sides, with seating for about 500. In 1895, the side galleries were removed, the church tower was raised six feet, and St Mark’s became for all purposes as it looks today.
In 1959, H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and H.R.H Prince Philip were guests at the home of then Governor-General Vincent Massey, a long-time parishioner of St Mark’s. During their stay at his estate in Canton, they joined the congregation in worship at St Mark’s on July 26. After the service, the Queen signed the guest book, which is still on display in the church.
As part of the 175th anniversary celebrations in 1997 the Parish petitioned the Canadian Heraldic Authority for a Grant of Arms. They were presented by Robert Watt, Chief Herald of Canada to the then incumbent, Fr. Tom Little, in September of that year. The design is based on the red Cross of St. George, which references both the Anglican Church of Canada and the origins of the Church in England. Superimposed on the Cross is a lion, the emblem traditionally attached to St. Mark. In the upper left hand quadrant is an open Bible, which recalls the role of St. Mark as the author of the Gospel that bears his name. In the upper right is an eagle, the emblem of St. John, which commemorates the early years when the Parish was dedicated to him. In the lower right is a fleur-de-lis, which references Vincent Massey, the first Canadian Governor General who was a St. Mark’s parishioner and is buried in our churchyard. In the lower left is an anchor, an emblem of Port Hope and a reference to the former Town’s coat of Arms and the role the church has played in the life of the community.
Below the shield is the Parish motto, based on a quotation from the Book of Hebrews 6.19: “We rejoice in the hope that has been handed down to us”, which plays on the ideas of the Christian virtue of Hope as well as the place of the Parish in the Municipality of Port Hope.
Courtesy Northumberland News
The first interment in the cemetery to be recorded was in 1822, but it was known that burials had occurred prior to that date. This was confirmed when remains were discovered 190 years later in 2012, during excavation for an addition to the Parish Hall. A special Christian service of committal took place later the same year. The cemetery is still open for the interment of cremated remains.
The St. Mark’s Heritage Foundation has been set up to assist in raising funds for the cost of ongoing restoration and maintenance of the fabric of the church building. It includes both members of the congregation and of the wider community. Further information on the work of the Foundation website can be found here.