Fund-raiser to restore St Michael’s
The once impressive chancel of the Cathedral of St Michael and All Angels on St Michael’s Row is now in a state of disarray with stacked furniture covered for protection but still unable to avoid the thick layers of dust covering the ornate woodwork of the choir stalls, the Bishop’s throne and other furniture and fixtures.
An expansive film of black plastic shuts out from the rest of the church, the view of work begun in the costly task of restoring the flagship of the local Anglican diocese to its former pristine glory.
The $7.5 million restoration project has been taken over by the Barbados Diocesan Trustees, and chairman Dr Hartley Richards told the media on Monday that the trustees recognized it was a task that would be “almost impossible for the congregation of the Cathedral to undertake”.
Their fund-raising efforts to date have amounted to between $300 000 and $400 000 which is being used in the repair of the Chancel, but this merely touches the bottom of the barrell.
Richards spoke of an intensive, organised drive to raise the rest of money needed for the entire project which is projected to stretch at least over three or four years.
Explaining the reason for the church’s current state, Richards stated: “The Cathedral is over 200 years old . . . and we would expect some wear and tear over that period . . . unfortunately we have not been able to keep pace with the requirements of keeping the church in very good condition over the years.”
“This is a building that needs to be brought back because it is a treasure for Barbados” the Diocesan chairman said as he acknowledged there was evidence of wear and tear everywhere.
The architectural firm Design Collaborative, headed by architect Robert O’Neal have been awarded the contract for the restoration project while Erskine Thompson has been retained as project manager.
The work is being done in a phased process, to create the least amount of disruption, so that services can still be held in the building.
When the chancel has been completed, attention will turn to the gutters and downpipes, then the masonary eaves which have been the main sources of dampness and leaking that have affected the coral stone walls and other sections of the church.
The trustees estimate about $1.2 million will have to be spent on the windows which are of a particular style and they want to retain that style, in partricular the historic stained glass windows on the eastern side of building. Finishes will also be done on the external and internal walls and the graveyard where the tombs of Prime Minister Tom Adams and Governors General Sir Deighton Ward and Sir Hugh Springer lie.
The restoration appeal is international, to Anglican churches in the United States, Canada and Britain, and Richards said the trustees along with members of the Cathedral would also be visiting the more than 50 Anglican churches spread across Barbados.
It is intended to make the restored church an attraction for cruiseship visitors.