Religion plays an important part in the past and present history of Bermuda. Amongst the religions practised on the island, is the Anglican church with a dozen of churches built in Bermuda.
St. James Anglican Church, on the parish of Sandy’s is one of them, and a beautiful example. Like many buildings erected in the early years of Bermuda’s settlement, the St. James Anglican church was first made of wood before it was destroyed like many others by a hurricane in 1780.
It took a few years for the church to be finally rebuilt and it was done in 1789 mostly with Bermuda limestone. The actual iron gates that are welcoming the congregation and the visitors to the church grounds were added this year. It was the engineers from the Royal Naval Dockyard who designed and installed them.
As it happened to many of the churches in Bermuda, the St. James Anglican church was given some more features, notably a spire in 1880. It was created by a local resident, Henry Hinson, who was known for having designed many other spires for the churches of Bermuda. The spire stood until 1939 when once again the St. James Anglican church was struck by nature, this time a lightning bolt that destroyed the spire completely. Fortunately, a local architect called Will Onions rebuilt a perfect replica of the spire, which still is one of the features of the church.
The altar is also one of the features of St. James, even a unique one since it faces west instead of east like it is customary in churches.
The church sits on a high ground at the end of a sweeping driveway found beyond an imposing entrance. The place is located on Somerset Road and overlooks the ocean, offering a picturesque setting and some of the most breathtaking views of the sunset on the island.
During the time when the United States had a naval base on St. David’s Island not far from there, St. James Anglican church was regularly attended by the U.S. Navy sailors. It is also the reason why the grounds of the church were used as a burial place for U.S. Navy aviators whom aircrafts crashed in Bermuda in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Recently, the St. James Anglican church made history when it became in 2010 the first church in Bermuda to have a service celebrated by a woman priest. After 400 years of presence on the island, it was the first time that a vote in favour of women clergy was made by the Anglican Church of Bermuda.
Rev Joanna Pauline Hollis delivered a sermon on January 3, 2010, at the 10:30am service in St. James Church, in presence of her father, the priest in charge at the church, while she was on holiday in the island. If she was the first woman to celebrate in an Anglican church in Bermuda, it is also because no woman has ever applied for a clergy vacancy here.
St. James Anglican Church, Bermuda
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St. James Anglican Church, Bermuda – Part of Elbow Beach Cycles’ Things To Do in Bermuda series!