The history of Bermuda dates back from the early 17th century when the Sea Venture of George Somers and his crew were shipwrecked on the reefs at the north of the island.
The most treasured buildings of Bermuda are those who were erected by the first settlers and are still standing. They tell the history of the country and are witnesses of how it was built. The Old Devonshire Parish Church is one of many religious buildings of Bermuda where religion played and still plays an important part in the island’s life.
The actual Old Devonshire Parish Church was reconstructed in 1970 after it was extensively burnt down by an anonymous arsonist on Easter Sunday, but it retains its original form and design. It is located at the junction of Middle Road and Brighton Hill Road, on the same site where the first Old Devonshire Parish Church was erected in 1624. This very old building was first destroyed by a hurricane in 1715 and reconstructed in 1716, and that is on these foundations that the actual building is standing.
The church doesn’t exactly look like a classic church but more like a small cottage. While the first church was thatched in palmetto, its outside is built with limestone and wood since 1716. But it is the interior that is the most interesting part of the Old Devonshire Parish Church. You can see the presence in the construction of ship’s knees, a piece of timber shaped as a right angle used to secure parts of a ship together. This shows that the same skills used in the construction of ships were used to built churches at the time and that they were applied by the same workers.
The interior of the Old Devonshire Parish Church features some great woodwork made of Bermuda cedar such as the pulpit and the pews, and the altar screen which has carvings of heart and lilies, symbols of love and purity. The oldest object that can be found in the church is a silver plate bearing the date of 1590 engraved with the Tudor rose. It is thought to have been brought from England specially for the first church and is the oldest object on the island.
About 15-minute walk from the Old Devonshire Parish Church is the new Devonshire Parish Church, the Christ Church, that was built in 1815 because the old church has become too small for the growing congregation. The new church is off a Gothic style that contrasted strongly with the minimalist and very simple design of the old church. In the small graveyard of the Old Devonshire Church is a hearse house built in 1817 in the same style as the main building, climbing roses, flaming poinsettia plants and old cedars. This makes the place a favourite for candlelight weddings and a national icon.
Anyone can visit the Old Devonshire Parish Church for free, with tours every Wednesday from 10:30 am. There is a mass celebrated every Sunday at 8 am, with Matins and Sermons held at 11 am.
Old Devonshire Parish Church
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Old Devonshire Parish Church– Part of Elbow Beach Cycles’ Things To Do in Bermuda series!