Righteous remains

22 Church Hill

The Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is a veritable repository of eerie nooks and shuddery crannies

Most common among them is the Burying Grounds that sit adjacent to the stunning Gothic structure. From roughly 1700 to 1849, the cemetery was the only consecrated burial ground in St. John’s. Though only a handful of tomb stones are still exposed, over 4500 people of all denominations were laid to rest there, in graves most likely layered one on top of another.

A lesser-known fact is that the Cathedral itself is home to the unburied dead.

The church contains a tiny museum of curiosities, founded in 1931 by the Rector Canon H. G. Peile. Peile wanted the collection to be a Museum of Christian Brotherhood, so he made a request to all of England’s 56 Cathedrals for donations of relics and artifacts. The items he received ranged from pieces of elaborate church stonework to a section of chain used to attach a bible.

Peterbourough Cathedral’s contribution, however, must have seemed to the St. John’s parish more like a mean gag than a Christian offering. The donation which came all the way from England was the petrified corpse of a rat which had died in the Church’s rafters.

78 years later, its grey-brown remains still sit curled up and perfectly intact in the Cathedral Museum’s glass case. For a viewing, tours can be booked through the parish hall.

—Lesley Thompson
Suggestion for a nook? nooks@thescope.ca