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Visiting Old St. Paul's Church, Woodstock, Ontario: Striking Eclecticism at a Venerable 1834 Structure

Updated on July 31, 2018
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Old St. Paul's Church, Woodstock
Old St. Paul's Church, Woodstock | Source

A stylistically intriguing frontage

Look at the above photo of Old St. Paul's Church (1), Woodstock, Ontario, and what do you see, depending on which particular feature is the subject of your focus?

If you look at the pointed arching above the windows of the entrance elevation, you will likely think: Gothic!

But now look at the pediment above the doorway; at the higher, broken pediment, interrupted by the tower; at the brickwork in the shape of pilasters, beside the doorway and on the tower: you will likely think, Neo-Classical!

If one focuses back and forth between these features, one comes to the inescapable conclusion that this is an intriguing eclecticism of styles which seems almost to morph back and forth as one shifts from one feature to another.

For many people — especially for those who pass the building at a distance, it is the tower, with its hexagonal cupola, which forms the most significant feature of the building; indeed, the tower and cupola is sometimes seen in a logo symbolizing the Downtown area of Woodstock. This hexagonal feature is itself complemented by four ornamental turrets.

The building dates from 1834. It was originally sponsored by Admiral Henry Vansittart (1778-1843)(1).

Old St.Paul's Church (Anglican) is situated at 723 Dundas Street, Woodstock, in Ontario's Oxford County.

July 31, 2018


(1) See also:

(2) From a prominent family which included George Henry Vansittart, Governor of Bengal and Nicolas Vansittart, First Baron Bexley, Henry Vansittart led a distinguished career in the Royal Navy, and was promoted to Read Admiral in 1830 and to Vice Admiral in 1841. In later years he lived at Eastwood, Woodstock, Ontario. (See also:,_Henry_(1777-1843)_(DNB00) )

Map location of Woodstock, Ontario
Map location of Woodstock, Ontario | Source

Also worth seeing

Woodstock itself has various other examples of fine ecclesiastical architecture; others include Woodstock City Hall and the Old Armoury.

In London , Ontario (distance: 43.4 kilometres) prominent buildings and visitor attractions include: Eldon House; St. Paul's Cathedral; the Middlesex County Court building; the former Armouries; the Fanshawe Pioneer Village.

Kitchener (distance: 57.7 kilometres); Woodside, former home of long-serving Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King is a National Historic Site of Canada.


How to get there: Air Canada flies to London International Airport, from Toronto Pearson Airport, from where there are wide North American and other connections. Car rental is available at London International Airport. VIA Rail serves Woodstock , connecting with Windsor and Toronto, and other cities. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada


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