Trinity Church received its charter from King William III in 1697, establishing its rules, the boundaries of the first land grant, and the system for managing the succession of rectors. He also established the rent, to be paid annually, to the Crown: a peppercorn.
The neo-Gothic building crowning Wall Street and overlooking the New York Stock Exchange is Trinity Church’s third building on Wall Street, the previous two having been destroyed by fire and storm. When this building was dedicated in 1846, it was the tallest building in New York City, at 281 feet, and the tallest building in the country. Above the church doors stretch Gothic arched stained glass windows. At its top is the diamond-shaped clock visible from blocks away. Inside the nave are vaulted ceilings and carved stone columns. Richard Upjohn, the architect, was a fan of the Anglo-Catholic style as well as English Gothic architecture and incorporated these elements into Trinity Church.
Among the most prominent parishioners buried in Trinity Cemetery are Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton; Francis Lewis, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence; and Albert Gallatin, founder of New York University and Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson. The oldest documented grave is Richard Churcher, who died in 1681 aged five, predating the church itself and buried in the original Dutch cemetery. The cemetery also includes the Soldiers’ Monument, 45 feet tall and made of brownstone on a granite foundation, which was built to commemorate American soldiers who died in captivity during the American Revolutionary War.
The Trinity Baroque Orchestra and Trinity Wall Street Choir advance the name and reputation of the church. They’ve played as far away as Berkeley, California, and are touted as delivering Handel’s best performance. Messiah At New York.
Today, the parish works with the vision “to serve and heal the world by building neighborhoods that live the truths of the gospel, generations of faithful leaders, and sustainable communities.” They organize artistic events for the congregation and the community, such as book clubs and a poets’ corner. They also have programs dedicated to young people and families, with a Trinity Youth Chorus and an Advent Family Retreat. As for the rent due to the Crown, it remained unpaid until 1976 when Queen Elizabeth II visited Trinity Church. The rector presents to His Majesty the balance of the rents due since 1697: 279 peppercorns.