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Formed in 1732, St. John’s Episcopal Church was first called “Queen’s Chapel” after King George II’s wife, Queen Caroline. After the Revolutionary War, the English reference became unpopular and Queen’s Chapel was given its present name. It’s current structure–the first church to have been built with brick in New Hampshire–was designed by architect Alexander Parris of Portland, Maine and feverishly built by local James Nutter along with other leading Portsmouth craftsmen in 1808. They completed the task in just six short months after a fire destroyed its original wooden structure the previous year.
Aside from its needlepoint covered kneelers and altar rail lovingly maintained by the women of St. John’s, the church houses the oldest pipe organ in the United States, as well as a rare Vinegar Bible gifted from Queen Caroline. Distinctive trompe l’oeil wall painting of architectural and religious imagery was completed in 1848, adding a majestic quality to the sanctuary. St. John’s stands as the oldest Episcopal parish in New Hampshire.