A Visit to Their Majesties’ Chappell, St. Peter’s Church in Bermuda
St Peter’s Church Bermuda
Today St. Peter’s Church in St. George’s Bermuda, doesn’t look anything like the original building finished in 1612. Storms in Bermuda quickly destroyed the wooden structure with a thatched roof, much like when “The Big Bad Wolf” huffed and puffed in the fable of “The Three Little Pigs.” In the 400 years since the church was founded, its undergone several renovations, and at one point was almost abandoned.
In 1713, after most of St. Peter’s Church was destroyed by a hurricane, it was re-constructed using stone. The oldest part of the church’s structure can be traced back to 1620! Last March, when the church celebrated its 400 year anniversary, Queen Elizabeth II gave St. Peter’s the royal title of Their Majesties’ Chappell. The title is said to have been used in the late 1600’s by King William and Queen Mary.
St. Peter’s Church in St. George is known as the oldest existing Anglican church in continuous use outside the British Isles. The interior of the church is very simple and rustic, with cedar beams, wooden pillars and candlelit chandeliers. The wooden altar in the church, was the original altar, and is the oldest piece of woodwork in Bermuda.
There are numerous other historical pieces in St. Peter’s including the St. George’s Chalice, from the Bermuda Company given to the church in 1625, a full set of silver, from King William III in 1697, the communion table made in 1620 by the first settlers, pulpit from 1660, the dole cupboard of 1640 (rumored to be the only one like it in the world), “hog” money which was the first currency on the island found under the floorboards during restoration, and the bishop’s throne from the 1700s.
St. Peter’s graveyard was segregated with black slaves buried to the west of the church, and whites buried on the east side.
Many of Bermuda’s famous residents are buried in the graveyard, including Governor Sir Richard Sharples and his aide, who were assassinated in 1973. There are also some tombstones in the graveyard of St. Peters that are over 3 centuries old, like Midshipman Richard Dale, an American and the last victim of the War of 1812.