Above: Hensley Memorial Chapel (1877) in Windsor, Nova Scotia

The University of King’s College did not have a free-standing chapel until the erection of the Hensley Memorial Chapel (1877) which serves today as the chapel of King’s-Edgehill school. Before its construction the chapel was located in two of the bays of the College’s main building, primarily the one which became known as “Chapel Bay” (a name which survived the move to Halifax although given, ironically enough, to the bay furthest from the chapel on the Studley campus).

On Sundays King’s students attended Christ Church, the parish church in Windsor. However upon the initiative of the Rev. J.M. Hensley, professor of Pastoral Theology from 1859 until his death in 1876, Convocation Hall (built in 1861) was used for Sunday services until the completion of the fine gothic revival structure named in his memory.

The design of the Hensley Memorial Chapel by David Stirling reflects the high church orientation of Divinity at King’s, which was shaped by the Tractarian beliefs of Bishop Hibbert Binney, fourth bishop of Nova Scotia (1851-87). The new chapel was paid for by one of Binney’s relations. Binney’s churchmanship laid down the path followed by Hensley and like-minded professors in the Divinity school such as Archdeacon F.W. Vroom, Professor of Divinity from 1888 to 1938 and the Rev. Dr. T.H. Hunt, for many years Alexandra Professor of Divinity.

The present chapel, designed by Andrew Cobb in an eclectic mixture of gothic and Georgian styles, reflects the high church tradition of King’s with its focus upon the altar rather than upon the small and inconspicuous pulpit. The altar, incidentally, was brought from Windsor.  Unlike the Hensley Memorial Chapel, the seating is arranged on the pattern of an Oxford or Cambridge college, with the stalls facing each other in the chapel proper and an ante-chapel much smaller in proportion to the whole than that at Windsor. The new King’s chapel was consecrated by Archbishop Clarendon Worrell, sixth bishop of Nova Scotia, on the 2 October, 1930.

Unfortunately the chapel records in the University archives are scanty but it would seem that until 1971 services in the chapel were the responsibility of the Divinity faculty. During the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s first G. Russell Hatton (later suffragan bishop of Nova Scotia) and then the Rev. Donald Trivett served as Anglican chaplains to Dalhousie but were not priests-in-charge of the chapel.

The chaplaincy in its present form dates from the removal of the Divinity faculty to the Atlantic School of Theology in 1971. In that year, the Rev. F.G. Krieger was appointed priest-in-charge. Three years later the Rev. Robert Petite succeeded him as priest-in-charge and was appointed Anglican chaplain to the University. He was followed as priest-in-charge and University chaplain in 1977 by the Rev. Dr. G. Richmond Bridge, who remained in the position until 1998. After a year’s hiatus when the Rev. Dr. Thomas Curran served as priest-in-charge, the Rev. Dr. Paul Friesen became priest-in-charge and University chaplain until 2005, when the position was assumed by the present incumbent.

As is the case with the chaplaincy, the chapel choir came into being after 1971, first under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Robert Crouse, followed by others, including the late Helen Roby, David Buley and for many years by Dr. Walter Kemp, professor of music and a King’s faculty member. Upon his retirement, he was succeeded by the present director, Paul Halley.

Written by Dr. Henry Roper