IWALKED BOSTON’S KING’S CHAPEL
King’s Chapel was founded in 1686 when King James II seized the land on which this burying ground is situated in order to build an Anglican church after local Puritans refused to “sell” him any property to do. King James erected a wooden chapel and the church became known as the King’s Chapel.
This wooden chapel was later replaced by a stone structure in 1754. Construction on the replacement church actually began in 1749 and so as to ensure no disruption to church services the stone structure was actually built around the existing wooden building. Financing for the new church was funded largely by loyalists such as Charles Bulfinch’s grandfather. Charles, being one of the most influential architects within all of Boston and whom designed the Massachusetts State House and later the US Capitol in Washington D.C.
The church was designed in a Georgian style said to be influenced by St. Martin’s in the Fields in London. It is constructed on granite blocks which were hauled in from nearby Quincy, Massachusetts. The columns on the front facade appear to be made of hearty granite, however, these were actually constructed of wood and painted to look like stone to reduce costs. Another cost cutting tactic is slightly more evident if you glance at the tower. You can take note that the square tower is topped by a flat roof as if awaiting the steeple which would never be added.
Upon completion of the stone church the prior wooden church had to be torn apart and its parts hauled through the windows its replacement. That original church was actually shipped and reassembled in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia where it became known as St. John’s Anglican Church. It remained standing until 2001 when it was unfortunately burned to the ground via a Halloween evening fire.
When the church was officially unveiled in 1754 as the King’s church it was crashed by numerous Colonists who threw garbage and manure at Loyalists who attended the first services. After the Revolution, Colonists took the opportunity to rename the church Stone Chapel in an effort to remove all associations to the former motherland. It eventually returned to its original historical name, however, in 1789.
The current bell residing in the church’s tower was a product of Paul Revere who cast the bell in 1814 after the original one from 1772 cracked. This bell was actually the last one ever cast by Revere and continues to ring strong to this day.
Today, the King’s Chapel is an Independent Christian Unitarian church. It is, of course, one of fifteen stops along the BostonFreedom Trail. Visitation hours to explore the interior vary slightly due to masses, however, the church is typically open from 10am-4pm most days. While this is no required fee to visit, a small donation is requested upon entering.
For more information on the graveyard next door (also a stop along the Boston Freedom Trail) you may read here.
Address: Intersection of Tremont Street and School Street, Boston, MA
Cost: Free, however, a small donation is requested upon entry.
Hours: Varies depending on masses, however, typically open 10am-4pm Mon-Sun
IWalked Audio Tours To See This Site: Boston’s North Downtown, Boston’s Crimes & Haunts Tour. (Purchase the MP3 tour here. iPhone application tour is available here. Please note, all Boston tours are now available as in-app purchases upon download of our FREEBoston Lite application, which includes a free 1 hour tour of a portion of Downtown.)