St Joseph Parish Church is still a commanding looking church. Inset, a window may have fallen out but the bell is still in its tower. (Picture by Heather-Lynn Evanson.)
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IN THE RUN-up to Barbados’ 50th anniversary of Independence, Heather-Lynn’s Habitat will present historical snippets of information on places round the island.
THE land on which St Joseph Parish Church stands was donated by the Vaughan family.
A story holds that the Vaughans and the Blackmans were competing to see who would donate the land on which the new church would be built.
The Vaughans won because they supposedly only asked for one rent-free family pew while the Blackmans asked for two.
THERE IS SOMETHING EERIE and disquieting about a church which has been denuded of its altar.
A church in which the pews lie strewn about as if there had been some cataclysmic event.
A church in which the windows have not been opened and where one lies crumbled and broken on the outside.
Yet, St Joseph Parish Church retains a dignified, if melancholy, air as befits a building that has been around for 375 years (since 1641), including 187 years as a Gothic structure.
Its hammer-beam ceiling, held in place by hand-carved wooden pillars set solidly in stone foundations, still commands awe, if one can ignore the huge cracks that promise to bring it crashing to the ground.
The church with a commanding view of the East Coast is falling victim to that phenomenon which plagues the Scotland District.
Land slippage has forced its priest, Reverend Errington Massiah, and his parishioners to abandon their hillside church on Horse Hill and move in with their Christian neighbours at St Aidan’s.
The cracks that seemingly grow larger and wider with every passing year threaten to send the buttressed walls into the nearby gully. Cracks that are also in the once solid stone floor.
The interior of St Joseph Parish Church, with its hammer-beam ceiling and its pews.
According to the rural dean for the St John Deanery, which includes the parish of St Joseph, Reverend John Rogers, the important things had been removed.
Yet, when Heather-Lynn’s Habitat visited the church, more than 20 pews with their carved quatre-foil symbol and the bell, in its tower, remained.
There have been calls to turn the now deconsecrated church, which was stripped of its religious blessing more than two years ago, into a romantic ruin.
Such an architectural gem would complement the Mortuary Chapel with its tombstones and memorial ledgers, which remains at the original Joe’s River Plantation location.
Rogers had also said that the Diocesan trustees were working on a plan to build a new parish church near the Grantley Adams Memorial School in Blackman’s, St Joseph.