St Peters Church Bermuda
Their Majesties Chappell in St George's
Located in the historic town of St George, St Peters Church in Bermuda is believed to be the oldest continually used Anglican church in the Western hemisphere.
The church was not however the first house of worship to stand on this site. It replaced a 1612 structure made of wooden posts and palmetto leaves that was destroyed in a storm.
The present church was extended in 1713 with the tower and wings being added in the 19th century.
The oldest part of the church is the area around the triple-tier pulpit. The first Bermuda Parliament met at the St Peters Church in 1620, making it the 3rd oldest parliament in the world.
St Peters Church Bermuda
As you can see in the picture bellow, the church inside has a wonderful and simplistic ambience with exposed cedar beams in the ceiling, rough wooden pillars and candlelit chandeliers.
Inside St Peters Church
St Peters church has many treasures. Inside you will see the altar from the original structure. It was built in 1615 under the supervision of Bermuda’s first governor, Richard Moore. This is the oldest piece of woodwork in Bermuda.
The font of St Peters church Bermuda is over 500 years old and was brought to Bermuda by the first settlers.
The late 18th-century bishop's throne is believed to have been salvaged from a shipwreck. There's also a fine collection of communion silver from the 1600s in the vestry.
As you walk outside to the churchyard, you can see two graveyards. A walled area to the west of the church was for black slaves. The one on the east was reserved for whites.
St Peters Church is an important site on the African Diaspora Heritage Trail
of Bermuda that traces the legacy of Bermuda's slavery. In 1698, St. George had a population of 1,124. One-third of that were blacks who were mostly brought in from Africa as slaves. As the blacks started becoming Christians, they too were entitled to Christian burials. So a separate graveyard was added by extending the existing one towards western side. It was done in the latter 1600s for burial of the blacks.
You will see that like many other churches in Bermuda, St. Peter's Church also has a separate gallery at the western side so that the blacks could attend the services. This gallery was built in the early 1700s. The entrance to this gallery was through a separate door at the north west corner of the church.
As you walk around the graveyard, you can see graves of prominent Bermudians, including Governor Sir Richard Sharples who was assassinated in 1973. Some of the tombstones in the Graveyard of St. Peters are more than 3 centuries old. You'll find the grave of Midshipman Richard Dale, an American who was the last victim of the War of 1812.
Close to the back entrance of the St Peters Church Bermuda you can also find a 500-year old cedar tree; its branches once bore the church’s bell.
Update March 2012: In the 400th anniversary of St. Peter's Church, Queen Elizabeth-II has honored the church with the royal title "Their Majesties Chapell". Note the double 'L's in the word Chapell. Such term for a church was first used in the late 1600s.
Daily from 10am-4pm; Sunday service at 11:15am;
Admission is free, however donations are encouraged.
Guide is available from Monday to Saturday.
Location & Contacts
33 Duke of York Street, St. George's Town.
Bus Routes: #1, 3, 10, 11
1) Check out Bermuda Churches
to know about the other great churches in Bermuda.
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