| Located near the old
township of Mannsdale, Mississippi, the Episcopal Chapel of the Cross is
a church with a deep history that has survived to present day.
Built between 1850 and 1852 by Mrs. Margaret Johnston as a memorial to
her husband, planter John T. Johnston, the chapel is an adaptation of a
design by well known English architect Frank Wills. Mrs.
Johnston's role in the construction of the chapel went beyond her
commissioning the architect. The bricks used to construct the
chapel were made of clay dug from Mrs. Johnston's plantation, Annandale,
and her daughter's near by plantation, Ingleside. The heavy sills
and rafters in the chapel were also hewn from the ancient trees that
grew on the plantations.
The dedication ceremony for the building was apparently quite an event for its day. The first Episcopal bishop of Mississippi, Bishop Green, wrote in his journal about the event:
"That beautiful and truly Church-like building was erected for the most part by Mrs. Margaret Johnston, near her residence in Madison County. The services were divided among the clergy present, and seemed deeply to impress the congregation, many of whom had never witnessed anything of the kind before. The only things to be regretted was the Church could not contain one-half of the persons in attendance . . ."
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Chapel has been referred to as one of the outstanding example of 19th Century Gothic Revival church architecture in the state. In 1985 the Chapel of the Cross became a full-time parish, with a resident rector and regular Sunday services. Although a new, larger Church building has been constructed at the site to protect and preserve the historic chapel, services are still held in the historic chapel every second Sunday of each month at three o'clock.
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