The most beautiful Colonial building north of Market Street has to be Christ Church (1727-54). Its gleaming white spire can be seen from anywhere in the neighborhood, now that a grassy park and a subway stop have replaced the buildings to the south. The churchyard has benches, tucked under trees or beside brick walls.
Christ Church, dating from the apex of English Palladianism, follows the proud and graceful tradition of Christopher Wren's churches in London. As in many of them, the interior spans one large arch, with galleries above the sides as demanded by the Anglican Church. Behind the altar, the massive Palladian window -- a central columned arch flanked by proportional rectangles of glass -- was the wonder of worshipers and probably the model for the one in Independence Hall. The main chandelier was brought over from England in 1744. As in King's Chapel in Boston, seating is by pew instead of on open benches -- Washington's seat is marked with a plaque.
With all the stones, memorials, and plaques, it's impossible to ignore history here. William Penn was baptized at the font, sent over from All Hallows' Church in London. Penn left the Anglican Church at age 23 (he spent most of his 20s in English jails because of it), but his charter included a clause that an Anglican Church could be founded if 20 residents requested it, which they did. Socially conscious Philadelphians of the next generations adopted Anglicanism then switched to Episcopalianism after the Revolution. The church's still-active Episcopalian congregation holds regular weekly services, so please schedule visits accordingly.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010
- User Rating