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OUTSIDE THE PULPIT: A look back at Westbury

Reverend Errington Massiah

OUTSIDE THE PULPIT: A look back at Westbury

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The recently refurbished chapel of the Westbury Cemetery was rededicated last Sunday after the upgrade at a cost of BDS$368 631.14; completed on June 30.
The feature address was given by Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe.
The Westbury Cemetery came into operation around 1854 which before its establishment, burials were done at the St Leonard’s Church in those days.
However, after the space there had become limited, the plot was then reserved for the members of St Leonard’s Church.
Then the government of the day was forced to seek an alternative place for burial. The Richmond Plantation was bought and this was followed by the acquisition of the Goodland plantation.
The present bell which is used at the Westbury Chapel was from one of the plantations (either?Richmond or Goodland) having been cast in the year 1825.
Westbury Cemetery occupied 35.7 acres of land and is divided into 32 sections. The records between 1854 and 1876 were not available, but those that were show that the first burial was done in July 1876 of an Archibald Bonyun, who was from the island of Guadeloupe.
It was also shown that the oldest person who ever lived in Barbados was a man called William Keizer, who died at the age of 120 and was buried at the cemetery on July 28, 1934.
The cemetery is a place that is rich in history – two Governor Generals were interred there – Sir Winston Scott was buried in Section L while Dame Nita Barrow was buried in Section G.
In Section E1, next to the chapel, Sir Conrad?Reeves and Lady Reeves were buried. On the opposite side in Section E 79 Valance Gale, founder of The Advocate, is buried there.
The first chaplain of the cemetery was Rev. Joseph Durant and the present chaplain is the Rev. Errington Massiah.
Special thanks to Ricky Cummins for providing the information for this column. Cummins, please put the history of Westbury Cemetery in writing and do not take it to your grave!
I appeal to all Barbadians to stop vandalizing those sacred spaces. A human being must always be afforded the highest level of respect and dignity, whether living or dead.