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St. Michael's Cathedral

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St. Michael's Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. Michael and All Angels, originally known as the Church of St. Michael was first built in 1628 on the site which is now occupied by the other city church, St. Mary's on Lower Broad Street in the capital city of Bridgetown, Barbados. This initial wooden structure rotted very quickly and soon had to be replaced. The church was then rebuilt in 1641 at the present location of the Cathedral but this church too, was constructed of wood and was also very small especially when compared to the colossal structure which exists today. In any case the new church was rebuilt on a parcel of land that was donated by Col. William Sharpe for the expressed purpose of the rebuilding and expansion of the church.

 

The rapid growth of the urban population of Barbados at the time virtually guaranteed that the church of St. Michael was deemed grossly inadequate by 1665 to service the spiritual needs of its ever increasing congregation. Therefore when the church was completely destroyed in that hurricane which wreaked unimaginable devastation on this little island of Barbados, the building of a grander church was set in motion. This hurricane of 1780 made certain that the rebuilding of the new church became a definite priority.

 

This new church was rebuilt at its present location along St. Michael's Row, in 1784 at a cost of about ten thousand pounds (£10,000.00) which was raised by the 'islanders' in a controversial lottery. This church was an even grander building with a maximum seating capacity of approximately three thousand (3000). The new stone building was dedicated in 1789 on the feast of St. Michael and All Angels, from which it got its name.

 

The new church building had some very impressive architectural elements; the beautiful barrel vaulted ceiling and the arched ceiling (the inverted boat’s prow) above the altar which resembles an upturned boat from the outside are just two examples. This exceptional model of master carpentry was, at one time, considered to be the widest ceiling in the world. The cathedral also features galleries running along three sides of the church (north, south and west) as well as some very striking examples of stained glass windows, quite like the one featuring Michael, the arch angel, with a drawn sword which is located directly the behind the altar.

 

Many alterations were made to the façade this large Cathedral over the years; buttresses were added to support the massive weight of this immense building and its considerable ceiling at several stages of its many rebuilding processes; as well as the addition of the clock and the stout square tower, which vastly altered the outward appearance of the church.

 

Historically, the Cathedral of St. Michael and All Angels, or rather, the St. Michael's Cathedral (as it is known by the people of Barbados), also has some rather quirky stories attached to it. Back in the early days it was a church for the elite of the Barbadian society and as such, the black people who resided in the city and its environs were not allowed to enter the church during the services with the white worshippers.  In any case, the black people still wanted to be a part of the services and they would stand outside in an alley just opposite the cathedral, where they could hear the sermons and when it was time to utter the customary "Amen", they would all join in; to this day that alley is still known as 'Amen Alley'.

 

This grand city church of Barbados still commands that air of privilege and prestige which almost seems to be mirrored by the influential members of the Barbadian society who are buried within her walls. The first prime minister of the Federation, Grantley Adams (after whom the airport in Barbados is named), his son (a former prime minister of Barbados) J.M.G.M. (Tom) Adams and even a former Governor General, Sir Winston Scott, all have become a permanent part of the history of the St. Michael's Cathedral as well as that of their island home of Barbados.

 

Tombstones Dislodged from their Original Places by the Great Hurricane that Struck the Island in August of 1831, St. Michael's Cathedral, Barbados Pocket GuideToday you can literally take a walk through history by exploring the church yard of this wonderful old cathedral, especially if you venture along the paths and courtyards which are made from the tombstones dislodged from their original places by the great hurricane that struck Barbados in August of 1831. The inscriptions on these headstones date back to the late sixteen and early seventeen hundreds and will truly transport you back to colonial times on this former gem of the British Empire that is Barbados.

 

The Cathedral of St. Michael and All Angels in Barbados is truly a magnificent structure built in the very simple and classic style of the time. Its beautifully carved pulpit and choir stalls were all honed from the famous mahogany of Barbados and are still quite beautiful today. Other parts of this church however have not managed to withstand the passage of time so gracefully and today finds the entire cathedral in need of some loving restoration and continued maintenance. Despite that, this historic Barbadian church still merits a visit even if it is just walk along the grounds while communing with the sense of history that pervades this sacred place.

 

Services

Sundays - 7:15 am (Holy Communion & Sermon)
Sundays - 9:00 am (Sung Eucharist & Sermon)
Sundays - 9:00 am (Sunday School) except on 1st Sunday
Sundays - 11:00 am (Choral Matins) except on 1st Sunday
Sundays - 12:10 am (Shortened Eucharist) except on 1st Sunday
Sundays - 6:00 pm ((Evensong & Sermon)
Tuesdays - 12:15 pm (Holy Communion)
Wednesdays - 9:45 am (Holy Communion & Service)
Thursdays - 12:15 pm (Holy Communion)
Fridays 12:15 pm (Lecture)

 

Contact Information

Telephone (Office) - (246) 427-0790
The Deanery - (246) 429-2421
Precentor (246) 437-4147

 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 15:28

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