St. James Parish Church, Holetown, St. James, Barbados Pocket Guide

St. James Parish Church

St James Parish Church is the oldest church located on the island of Barbados. This church was constructed near the site where the first English settlers landed on the island back on 17th February, 1627. On that day, eighty settlers and ten slaves arrived to take occupation and to settle the island of Barbados in the name of King James I; they called this place Jamestown.




Today Jamestown is known as Holetown and is a fitting location for the oldest church on the island of Barbados. Incidentally, Jamestown got the name Holetown because of the ships that were unloaded and cleaned in the small channel which was very close to the town proper. These activities left the area in a very unkempt state; this along with the stench from the area prompted residents to refer to the area as the 'Hole'.  From this, the name Holetown was derived.


The exact date for the construction of the original church is not quite clear but records held by the British Museum state that 'The Hole Church' in Barbados had been in existence well before 1668; there are also references to the church made in both 1660 and 1629. This however is of little consequence since the original church was destroyed by the hurricane which hit the island of Barbados on August 31st, 1675 and this destruction was repeated again on the 16th October, 1780.


These church buildings were originally constructed out of wood and were consequently severely damaged by the hurricanes; this coupled with the typical wear and tear of being located near to the sea, prompted the officials to build a stone structure that would replace the previous church. St. James Parish Church of Barbados was completed in 1874. The new Parish church was then consecrated by the Bishop Mitchinson on Easter Tuesday, 1875. This church building as it stands now is largely the same building from the late 1800's.


Historical records for the island of Barbados indicate that the St. James Parish Church measured fifty four feet by forty feet and had the capacity to seat five hundred and fifty persons (550), well below the registered congregation of the time which was only three hundred and sixty persons.


Section of the Congregation at St. James Parish Church, Holetown, St. James, Barbados Pocket GuideThis beautiful old church is located next door to the Folkstone Marine Park on an acre of land that is known in Barbados as 'God's Acre'. Now like most historic buildings there is a legend attached to this church. The story goes that there is a gate located in the western wall of the church's perimeter; this gate is opened just about an hour before the services begin and later when the bell tolls, the Devil is said to leave the vicinity through the gate. This gate is called the 'Devil's Gate'. This action is said to exclude the Devil from the area and the holy proceedings.


The bell at the St. James Parish Church in Barbados is also famous for another reason. Besides being the oldest bell in Barbados, the original bell fell from the belfry in 1881 and developed quite a severe crack. The bell was sent for repairs but a very generous patron of the church donated a new bell. However, the historic value of the old church bell was not lost on the church's administration and so it was sent to England for repairs and today is still on display in the church. This bell bears the inscription 'God bless King William, 1696' and in fact predates the famous Liberty bell which is on display in Philadelphia, USA.


This Barbadian church is replete with historic assets like the baptismal font which dates back to over three hundred years and even this bears an inscription which reads, 'Debit Richardus Walter to the Church of St. James Anno 1684'.  St. James Parish Church in Barbados also boasts three lovely stained glass windows - The first is the Ascension window which is located behind the altar, another is situated behind the church's organ while the last one is positioned in the church's baptistery.

The natural coral stone walls of this building lend an air of tranquility to the Barbados' oldest church which also features lovely circular columns, mural tablets, a uniquely circular bell tower and a beautifully carved wooden spiral staircase. The intricate beam-work in the ceiling of this church also lends to the ethereal feel of this sacred place. St. James Parish Church in Holetown, Barbados is certainly a popular place of interest for both Barbadians and tourists alike, be sure to add this church to your list of things to while in Barbados, the next time you are on the island.



Sundays  - 7:15 am (Holy Eucharist)
Sundays  - 9:00 am (Sung Eucharist)
5th Sunday  - 8:00 am (Refreshments are served afterwards)
Sundays  -  8:00 am (Sunday School)
Mondays  - 4:30 pm (Prayer Group & Bible Study)
Tuesdays  - 7:30 am (Holy Eucharist)
Wednesdays  - 9:30 am & 7:15 pm (Bible Study)
Thursdays  - 7:30 am (Holy Eucharist)


Contact Information

Telephone (Office)  -  (246) 422-4117
Residence  - (246) 422-1044




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