Historian Morris Greenidge speaking to the scores of walkers at the start of the Holetown Heritage Walking Tour at St James Parish Church. (Pictures by Heather-Lynn Evanson.)
THERE WAS A TIME when God’s Little Acre was part of a battery called Church Point.
Then love and marriage intervened. Church Point became Folkestone; the Church at the Hole was expanded to its grand state.
The stories associated with Holetown, St James, came alive on Sunday as historian and author, Morris Greenidge, took scores of history enthusiasts and the curious on a two-hour walking tour of the island’s first town.
It was a partnership between the Barbados Tourism Product Authority and the National Cultural Foundation which saw people walking from the island’s first consecrated ground to the site of the landing of the first English settlers in 1627.
Re-enactments spiced the lively commentary by Greenidge who brought to life the historical figures which shaped the town since the William and John tacked around the headland of what is now Holetown.
“There never was an English colony settled except the English church was established first, followed closely by an alehouse,” Greenidge said.
The alehouse is long gone; its location unknown.
“This place is known as God’s Little Acre, the first consecrated space, and was certainly planned and executed by the end of 1627 because no self-respecting Englishman, in setting up a new colony, would fail to bend the knee in the sight of God in a chapel made with his own hands,” Greenidge said, as he stood in the churchyard of St James Parish Church.
He added the historic church, once a small wooden structure, was second in age only to the “old church in Basseterre, St Kitts”.
The walkers crossing over the bridge at the Hole at Holetown.
It was also the earliest church built of locally sawn coral stone and was dedicated to James I, who died in 1625.
As he led his followers from the church yard to the neighbouring Folkestone, he grabbed their attention by declaring: “The story I am about to tell you is the absolute truth and nothing but the truth. The middle of the story I am unable to certify but I will tell you the story as it was told to me. Here beginneth.”
And then he spun a tale of Porters Plantation which fell upon hard times as the rewards from the golden grains of sugar declined.
With his audience hanging on to his every word as they watched actors play out the scene before them, he revealed how agricultural attorney, Sir John Gay Alleyne, in desperation, decided to sell his grand horse carriage and livery, but held off after his sisters, Mary and Rebecca, begged for its use for one last trip to church.
That trip was fortuitous, the walkers learnt. Two young English gentlemen slipped into their pew during the service. Apologies were offered and so was lunch. Weeks later, Mary married Viscount Folkestone.
“The end of the story which I can certify is this – Church Point had not long been decommissioned as a fort. The Alleynes were in charge of the militia so were able to give it to Mary and her husband Viscount Folkestone as their residence in Barbados. It then became known as Folkestone,” as the audience broke into applause.
A re-enactment of how Folkestone got its name.
“Now I was very careful to let you know the beginning and the end of that story was gospel,” as they broke into laughter.
But it was not all jokes, as Greenidge bemoaned the loss of a number of architectural gems or natural habitats to either the tourism product or other development.
One such loss was at Trent’s Corner – a beautiful little house, as Greenidge described it.
“It was demolished a few years ago to make way, I believe, for the extension of the corner, or some other frivolous reason, and the remaining family members have been relocated, or let me use the word, dislocated,” he said.
Lascelles Plantation House is also gone, replaced by the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, while the five-acre swamp land that was once the Hole was now a trickle hemmed in by sand.
“Also on the spot of the bridge, they found a primitive wooden bridge, a suspension bridge, and they called that bridge the Indian Bridge – three years before an Indian was discovered in Bridgetown,” he revealed.
The tour ended at the Holetown monument where the walkers were treated to more displays of history. (HLE)