This little church close to the Folkestone Marine Park in Holetown is quiet and unassuming yet steeped in history, well it would be, it stands on ground that was consecrated in the 1600s. It is on an area known as “God’s Acre” and is where the first settlers arrive at around the same time. And as they passed away man of them are buried in the graveyard here.
There is a popular legend attached to St. James’ Church, that a gate in the north wall surrounding the churchyard, referred to as ‘The Devil’s Gate’ is opened about one hour before service. When the bell is rung the Devil leaves the church by this gate, and it is closed as the service is about to begin, so that the Devil is excluded from the area. This is presumably derived from the old belief that church bells were rung to drive the devil out of the building
Hurricanes destroyed much of the original church and the current building has been in situ since the early 1900s.
On a hot day it is a lovely spot to get some shade and to take a moment to get some peace and reflect that this is not just an island for tourists but is full of history and when all the tourists have gone home, it is still a thriving community.
With twice daily services, and the occasional wedding.
In 1982 whilst visiting the island Ronald Reagan popped in for the Easter Sunday service and wrote to thank the Canon shortly afterwards. The letter is framed on the back wall as proof. ( I get brownie points for this as Mr B had no idea when I mentioned it to him two days after visiting the church).
But maybe the reason the church is famous now is for the bell that sits just outside, it is the oldest bell in Barbados. It’s older than the Liberty Bell in the States, though made in the same factory (which also made Big Ben dontcha know). It fell from the belfry in 1881, causing it to crack. So whilst it was sent back to the UK to be repaired it was never re-attached but stands as a momento and a wealthy benefactor donated the money for a new one.
If you ever do find yourself in Holetown, Barbados I do recommend you go. It’s the perfect spot to spend half an hour away from the world and to recharge your batteries.