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I spent a year living in Barbados as faculty at the University of the West Indies. While my departure was under strange circumstances, I met my fiancee and so I travel there frequently while we wait for her visa to process.
Barbados has eleven subnational units, called parishes because they were originally organized as Anglican parishes and intended to support a church. Thus, each parish has an “official” church. My fiancee and I toured the island and visited all eleven. The first six were in October 2021; the last five we picked up right after the new year.
The parish churches in Barbados vary from really impressive neogothic edifices to what seem like the country churches in nowhere, America. But they all offer a fascinating view of the ways that a society navigates their own spiritual needs over nearly four hundred years.
The church in St. Joseph is abandoned due to land subsidence. Supposedly you can go in the church, but the yard this day was guarded by a cow who didn’t seem happy we were there.
The church in St. Thomas is used but not open aside from services. It’s the most “country parish church” of them all – just a little building next to a highway, no traffic, no activity.
Christ Church is beautiful and quite large. It’s in a fairly busy part of the island and has some lovely stained glass, so it’s open to the public. As with many of the oldest churches, there’s also graves under the floor of the church which is one of the weirdest things every time I encounter it.
The St. John parish church is a tourist destination, complete with vendors and bus parking, because it sits at the top of a cliff looking over the east coast. It has one of the most spectacular views. It also has, in its graveyard, the last resting place of the last known descendant of the last Byzantine emperor. At least, that’s the story he told and the story recorded on his grave.
St. Andrew is a poor folks’ parish and it looks it.
St. Peter’s parish church was the original seat of the bishop of Barbados, as the community at the center of St. Peter, Speightstown, was the capital at the time the bishopric was established. The seat has moved to the current capital of Bridgetown in St. Michael parish, but St Michael’s cathedral is arranged so that I couldn’t get a decent picture of it. Maybe next trip I’ll have a better shot to share!
St. Michael’s Cathedral is the largest church in Barbados. It’s also quite old, as the graves in the walkways and floor attest. Unfortunately, because it’s in the middle of the city and surrounded by trees and power lines, I’m not very satisfied with this shot.
Couldn’t get at a good angle for the front of St. George’s, as there was a funeral entering the church, but it’s grand and impressive. Also, right next to the entrance to the churchyard is a family grave marker showing two women with different last names who lived at the same time, buried together. Victorian lesbians or sisters who loved each other more than their husbands? Messy family drama can be seen even after everyone is dead and gone.