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St. Peter's Church

St. Peter Parish Church, Speightstown, St. Peter, Barbados Pocket Guide

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter’s Parish Church is located in Barbados' northern most town called Speightstown, the namesake of the 1639 parliamentarian, William Speights. Once known as 'Little Bristol', this town was once the centre of commercial trade between the town of Bristol in England and the island of Barbados. This beautifully restored old church sits in the centre of this town among some exquisite examples of the quaint eighteenth century buildings which are also very prominent along Bay Street in Barbados’ capital city of Bridgetown.

 

Many of these old houses in Speightstown, like the ones in Bridgetown, are brightly coloured and feature the trademark overhanging galleries as well as premium views of the calm, serene Caribbean Sea which literally form their backyards. Sadly, some of these old houses have fallen into a state of disrepair or have been converted into restaurants, shops and so on without keeping the integrity of the old architecture.  However, they are still a few surviving buildings in the area which give a good indication of what the surroundings looked like back in the early eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in colonial Barbados.

 

St. Peter's Parish Church dates as far back as 1629, when a wooden structure served as the parish church for the area; this building however, virtually rotted away leaving All Saint's Chapel to serve as the Parish church for St. Peter. This temporary shift in location led to an unsuccessful bid by some of the residents of St. Peter in Barbados to call for All Saints Chapel to become the permanent home of the parish church. However, in 1665 a new parish church was rebuilt at its present location.  

 

St. Peter’s Parish Church was one of the three churches in Barbados which survived the hurricane of 1780, along with St. Andrew's Parish Church and All Saint's Chapel. This parish church however, was not so lucky when the hurricane of 1831 struck by the island. The church was destroyed and by 1837 it was again rebuilt and consecrated. This church like many of the churches of the time was constructed of stone at a cost of approximately three thousand pounds (£3000.00). This building was an impressive three thousand, four hundred and two square feet (3402 sq. ft.) and largely followed the Georgian architectural style which was prominent at the time.  

 

This third church survived well into the twentieth century but then on April 21st, 1980 tragedy struck and the church was largely destroyed by fire. The church building sustained damage primarily to the interior with the exterior walls and the tower escaping much of the damage. This was indeed a sad day for the Anglican diocese of Barbados.  The rebuilding of this beautiful parish church cost a whopping seven hundred and fifty thousand Barbados dollars ($750,000.00 Bds.).

 

The church was subsequently restored to its former glory with one marked exception. The large bell that was previously housed in the church's clock tower could not be returned to its former location and so the bell is now housed on the outside of the church building, under a gazebo-like structure, as a constant reminder of life’s affinity for change.  

 

Today the St. Peter's Parish Church stands adjacent to the Speightstown esplanade and directly to the south of the Alma Parris Memorial Secondary School, which incidentally is the only alternative secondary school in Barbados. The St. Peter's Parish Church serves as the resident church so to speak, for all of the nearby schools in St. Peter, which all choose this location for their special religious services throughout the year.

 

St. Peter's Parish Church is also renowned for its annual Flower and Garden Festival. Presented at this event are many elegantly designed floral arrangements which utilize many of the local Barbadian blooms like the anthuriums, heliconias and even the brightly coloured orchids. The beautiful and exotic flowers and foliage are definitely a lure for those who visit the church during this celebration. Also on offer at this event are professional demonstrations in the art of floral design, musical presentations by both local and overseas bands and artistes; there is even a traditional Barbadian garden tea party.  This is truly a treat for those who choose to venture to the north of Barbados to take in another side of the Barbadian experience.  

 

Incidentally, St. Peter's Parish Church is one of the oldest churches in Barbados but because of the many tragedies faced by this church no early records have managed to survive. Despite this lack of a traditional written history however, one only has to take a stroll through the grounds of the church and even the interior of the church itself to be able to witness firsthand the history on which this church is grounded.  

 

On entering this edifice, the first thing that catches the eye, is the inscription which is positioned directly above the altar, "This is none other than the House of God and this is the Gate of Heaven Alleluia" this quote, carved in stone as it were, lends to the sacred feel of the church and coupled with the many elaborately craved plaques that date back to the seventeen hundreds, proclaim St. Peter’s Parish Church in Barbados as a treasure trove of historical finds.  

 

Some other examples can be found in the ornately craved pulpit inscribed with the words "Given to the Glory of God by Little John in memory of his mother" while the baptismal font at the back of the church bears the inscription "The Geft of John Sober Esq. to the Parish of Saint Peter 1767", even the bell which is now mounted outside in the churchyard bears the inscription "St. Peter's 1827". This rural church in Barbados proves to be its own 'history book' and it certainly beacons visitors and locals alike to enter, explore and ingest the history of this remarkable Barbadian parish church.

 

Services

Sundays  - 7:30 am (Holy Eucharist)
Sundays  - 8:00 am (Sunday School)
Sundays  - 9:15 am (Sung Eucharist)
Sundays  - 7:00 pm (Evensong)
Tuesdays  - 7:30 pm (Holy Eucharist – St. Nicholas)
Wednesdays  -  9:30 am (Holy Eucharist – St. Peter)

Contact Information

Telephone (office & Fax.)  -  (246) 422-3599
Residence  - (246) 432-9000
Rectory  - (246) 422-2181
Email: Rector  -

 

Office Hours

Wednesdays  - 5:30 pm
Saturdays  - 10:00 am

 

00-10

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 15:31

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