PEI

All Souls' Chapel: its hidden history highlighted for Heritage Week

Islanders are getting a chance to enjoy a hidden gem of Charlottetown's history, with public tours on offer of All Souls' Chapel, attached to St. Peter's Cathedral.

'I think it's important to maintain it for the pleasures of generations yet to come'

All Souls' Chapel in Charlottetown became a National Historic Site in 1990. (Lindsay Carroll/CBC )

Islanders are getting a chance to enjoy a hidden gem of Charlottetown's history, with public tours on offer of All Souls' Chapel, attached to the Anglican St. Peter's Cathedral.

The chapel, built in 1888, is a little-known national historic site bursting with vibrant stained-glass windows, sculptures and paintings. It's both an architectural masterpiece — built by famed P.E.I. architect William Critchlow Harris — and a museum, featuring paintings by Harris' equally well-known brother, painter Robert Harris. 

The fan vaulting over the altar at All Souls' is in wood, 'which is a really more personal material' than stone, says tour guide Michael Smitherman. (Lindsay Carroll/CBC)

"I think it's important to maintain it for the pleasures of generations yet to come," said long-time parishioner Peggy Williams as she showed a handful of people around the tiny Gothic-revival style chapel. 

Williams and fellow parishioner Michael Smitherman are giving chapel tours this week.  

A visit to All Souls' Chapel Charlottetown to contemplate can be a 'renewing' thing to do, say parishioners. (Linday Carroll/CBC)

"If you concentrate and look up you'll see the most beautiful ceiling in wood, with arches that support the walls and support the roof itself," Smitherman told his audience. 

One of several intricate and colourful stained glass windows in All Souls' Chapel. (Lindsay Carroll/CBC )

On the walls are 15 murals by Robert Harris.

"He used the members of the congregation and people from the City of Charlottetown to pose as the saints and the various people who are depicted here," Williams revealed. 

Artist Robert Harris painted members of All Souls' congregation into his work more than 100 years ago. (CBC)

Despite being named a National Historic Site in 1990, many people don't even know the chapel exists.

Services are held daily, but the curious can come in any time during the day.

The chapel is very unassuming from the outside.

With files from Lindsay Carroll

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