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St. Matthias Anglican Church

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St. Matthias Anglican Church

St. Matthias Church located in Hastings Christ Church in Barbados is constructed on three quarters of an acre of land, donated by John Mayers in 1837. Mr. Mayers was a clerk of the House of Assembly in Barbados and also the chief builder of the church.

 

The original contract to build the church was given at three thousand, two hundred and fifty pounds (£3250.00) but this was not enough to bring the church to completion as a further one thousand pounds (£1000.00) was required to complete the building. This brought total cost of the church's construction to four thousand, two hundred and fifty pounds (£4250.00) considerably more than was spent on similar churches in Barbados at the time. In fact, the other chapels of ease only had an average cost of about seven hundred and fifty pounds (£750.00). Despite the cost overruns and delays the church was still not complete in the early part 1848 however in October of that same year with the interior finally complete, the church was officially opened.

 

This church was originally built as a chapel of ease but its scale was quite grand when compared to some of the other chapels and even some of the parish churches in Barbados at the time. St. Matthias Church was in fact an impressive three thousand, three hundred and seventy five square feet (3375 sq. ft.). However, St. Matthias’ large size may have been due to the fact that at one point in 1850, it was suggested that a new parish was to be established with St. Matthias Church serving as the official parish church. The establishment of this new parish however, never became a reality so the status of St. Matthias Church remained unchanged.

 

St. Matthias Church was finally consecrated on 2nd August, 1850 by Bishop Thomas Parry since by then Bishop William Hart Coleridge, who spearheaded the programme of church building in Barbados, had retired. 

 

st-matthias-church-dauntless-tombThis church like so many in Barbados has an interesting but solemn story is associated with it. You see, the St. Matthias cemetery was consecrated at the same time as the church was, but four years later in 1854 it was closed as a consequence of the yellow fever epidemic that gripped Bridgetown, the capital city of Barbados at the time. You see, just off the shores of Barbados, in Carlisle Bay, on board the HMS Dauntless, a frigate sailing out of the island of St. Thomas on November 10th 1852, was an outbreak of the dreaded yellow fever disease. This deadly disease claimed the lives of sixty seven men on board the frigate. The Dauntless never left Barbados’ waters until March in 1853 and it was during that year that this terrifying epidemic spread rampant throughout the island. 

 

Today the fifteen officers and the captain's steward, who were among those who died from yellow fever on board the HMS Dauntless, are interred in the St. Matthias cemetery and their tomb serves as a somber reminder of this terrible period in the history of Barbados. The marble tomb which marks their final resting place was given by the Royal Navy and can still be found in the south section of the cemetery. In addition to the military men who fell victim to the yellow fever outbreak, the cemetery also holds many grim reminders of the ordinary folk; men, women and children, who succumbed to this terrible disease. 

 

Due largely to the close proximity of the Barbados Garrison to the St. Matthias Church, the two have always been closely linked. From the very beginning, St. Matthias Church was utilized as a chapel for the Barbados Garrison since there was none within the Garrison compound itself and for this privilege the British Government paid the tidy sum of seventy five pounds (£75) annually. Indeed, there was such a close relationship between the institutions that the Chaplain assigned to the Garrison was permitted to conduct services for the soldiers. Two services were given, one at 8:00 a.m. and the other at 4:30 p.m. Even today the church maintains a very close relationship with the Barbados Defense Force and as such, the rector of St. Matthias Church also serves as the chaplain for Barbados' major military force.

 

st-matthias-church-signThis beautiful old church is also situated right in the heart of Barbados' south coast tourist belt. In fact, the church sits not too far from the island’s first large hotel, The Marine Hotel. This 200 room hotel was built in 1887 and featured some very elaborately detailed cast iron balustrades, large wrap-around patios and a magnificent ballroom. Today, on the sites of both the Marine and Pomroy Hotels is the PomMarine Hotel, a teaching Hotel attached to the Barbados Community College.

 

This one hundred and sixty year old Barbadian church was recently selected as 'a place of architectural and historic interest' by the Barbados National Trust; a fitting accolade for such a beautiful piece of Barbadian folk history. The St. Matthias Church is located just a short trek to the north of the Hastings Boardwalk, so the next time you are taking a lazy stroll along the beach on the boardwalk, nip across the road and check out this  significant monument to the history of Barbados.

 

Services

Sundays  -  7:00 am (Eucharist)
Sundays  - 8:45 am (Sunday School & Both Services)
Wednesdays  - 6:30 am & 9:30 am

 

Contact Information

Telephone (Office & Fax.)  -  (246) 429-5733
Rectory  - (246) 427-7389
Email  -
Email  -

 

Office Hours: 8:30 am - 12:00 pm daily (except Sundays)

 

Note: A priest is available on Wednesdays from 10:00 am to noon and on Fridays from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm or by appointment.

 

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Last modified on Tuesday, 05 July 2011 21:59

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