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Churches of St Helena

And other religious buildings

Far away across the field; The tolling of the iron bell;
Calls the faithful to their knees; To hear the softly spoken magic spells.

‘Time’ by Pink Floyd, from Dark Side of The Moon

Top twenty things to do Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena

St Helena has historic and more modern churches to investigate.

This page is in indexes: Island Structures Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St HelenaIsland Structures, Island History Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St HelenaIsland History, Island ACTIVITY Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St HelenaIsland Activity, Island Detail Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St HelenaIsland Detail

Churches of St Helena Saint Helena Island Info

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Below: St. James’, JamestownSt. Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’sSt. Matthew’s, Hutt’s GateOther older churchesMore modern churchesChurchyardsPortuguese Chapel, JamestownRelated buildingsGravestones and memorial windowsRead More

Top Twenty things to do Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena

Exploring our churches and other built heritage is one of our Top Twenty things to do during a visit to St Helena.

Top Twenty things to do Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena

Church Opening Dates{6}

St. James’, Jamestown

1774

St. Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’s

1851

Roman Catholic Church, upper Jamestown

1852

Baptist Church, Jamestown

1854

St. Matthew’s, Hutt’s Gate

1862

St. John’s Church, Jamestown

1862

Sandy Bay Chapel, Sandy Bay

1867

Baptist Chapel, Knollcoombes

1875

Baptist Chapel, Head o’Wain (Blue Hill)

1918

Seventh Day Adventist Church, Jamestown

1950

St. Helena & The Cross, Blue Hill

1951

St. Andrew’s, Half Tree Hollow

1962

St. Martin’s-in-the-Hills, High Point

1971

St. Mark’s, Longwood

1973

St. Peter’s, Sandy Bay

1976

Salvation Army Hall, Jamestown

1977

St. Mary’s, The Briars

1989

New Kingdom Hall, Half Tree Hollow

1993

New Apostolic Hall, Half Tree Hollow

1994

St. Michael’s Church, Rupert’s

1996

Bahá’í Centre, The Gumwoods

1998

Please note: this website does not encourage, promote or advocate any faith or religious belief. religious buildings are described below solely in terms of their interest as historic buildings or examples of more modern architecture.

According to the Wikipedia:

Most residents belong to the Anglican Communion and are members of the Diocese of St Helena, which has its own bishop and includes Ascension Island. The 150th anniversary of the diocese was celebrated in June 2009. Other Christian denominations on the island include Roman Catholic (since 1852), Salvation Army (since 1884), Baptist (since 1845) and, in more recent times, Seventh-day Adventist (since 1949), New Apostolic (since 1994), and Jehovah’s Witnesses (of which one in 35 residents is a member, the highest ratio of any country). The Catholics are pastorally served by the Mission sui iuris of Saint Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, whose office of ecclesiastical superior is vested in the Apostolic Prefecture of the Falkland Islands. The Bahá’í Faith has also been represented on the island since 1954.

According to the 2016 Census, 83.8% of the resident St Helenian population described themselves as Anglican; 4.9% as Jehovah’s Witnesses{7}; 2.5% as Baptists (since 1845); 2.1% as Salvation Army (since 1884); 2.1% as Seventh Day Adventists (since 1949); 1.7% as New Apostolics; 0.5% as Roman Catholics (since 1819); 0.3% as Bahá’ís (since 1954); and 2.0% as other denominations or declined to answer (including three Pastafarians). As in the UK, the number of people describing themselves as ‘Anglican’ far exceeds the weekly attendance at Anglican churches.

St. James’, Jamestown 

St. James’ Jamestown Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena

St. James’ Jamestown Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena

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St. James’ Church is situated in Jamestown and is the oldest Anglican Church in the southern hemisphere; the present building was put up in 1774. It is sufficiently interesting to get a page of its own.

St. Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’s 

St. Paul’s Cathedral Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena

Interior Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
{a}

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St. Paul’s Cathedral is situated in St Paul’s and is the official seat of the Anglican Bishop of St Helena. It is sufficiently important to get a page of its own.

St. Matthew’s, Hutt’s Gate 

Location map:
Location Map stmatthewschurch Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena

St. Matthew’s church is at Hutt’s Gate in the Longwood District. The original building was constructed in 1861, the cornerstone being laid in December 1861 by Governor’s wife Lady Drummond Hay. The church was consecrated on 14th May 1862 (St. Matthias’ Day).

The church was substantially rebuilt somewhere between 1915 & 1918 and much of the present building dates from then.

One window has a memorial stained glass panel depicting St. Michael which dates from World War 1; since 2006 an outer sheet of glass protects this important memorial window.

In June 2017 it was announced that an appeal had been launched to fund £50,000 for vital repairs. The building is Listed, Grade II.

Original St. Matthew’s 1875 Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Original St. Matthew’s, 1875{b}

Sketch by Erich Mayer Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Sketch by Erich Mayer

Original St. Matthew’s c.1903 Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Original St. Matthew’s, c.1903

Original St. Matthew’s c.1910 Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Original St. Matthew’s, c.1910

Postcard pre- World War 1 Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Postcard, pre-World War 1{c}

Re-built St. Matthew’s c.1920 Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Re-built St. Matthew’s, c.1920

St. Matthew’s 1970s Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. Matthew’s, 1970s

St. Matthew’s recent Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. Matthew’s, recent

St. Matthew’s 2016 Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. Matthew’s 2016{d}

St. Matthew’s area Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. Matthew’s area

Interior Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Interior{1}{a}

Altar Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Altar{1}

Windows in St. Matthew’s Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Windows in St. Matthew’s

Postage Stamp Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Postage Stamp

 

Other older churches 

Most of the other churches in St Helena date from Victorian times. Sandy Bay Chapel, for example, was opened in December 1867. St. John’s Church, Jamestown opened January 1862 and St. Matthew’s the following month. Knollcoombes Baptist Chapel opened in December 1875. Many have metal roofs, as a result of White Ants action. Some retain their original stained glass windows. St. Mary’s, The Briars was completely reconstructed in 1989 - the photos below show the old and new churches. The Baptist Church in Jamestown was located to be near the military barracks so that the troops could be ‘ministered to’.

Sandy Bay Chapel Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Sandy Bay Chapel

St. Helena & The Cross Blue Hill Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. Helena & The Cross, Blue Hill

St. Martin’s-in-the-Hills High Point St Paul’s district Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. Martin’s-in-the-Hills, High Point, St Paul’s district

Baptist Church Jamestown Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Baptist Church, Jamestown

Baptist Church bell Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Baptist Church bell{2}

Baptist Church middle Jamestown Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Baptist Church, middle Jamestown

Knollcombs Baptist chapel Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Knollcombs Baptist chapel{3}{e}

St. John’s Jamestown Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. John’s Jamestown

St. John’s from Side Path Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. John’s from Side Path{4}

St. John’s from the west Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. John’s from the west{e}

Roman Catholic Church upper Jamestown Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Roman Catholic Church, upper Jamestown{5}

Roman Catholic Church from Side Path Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Roman Catholic Church from Side Path{5}

St. Peter’s Sandy Bay Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. Peter’s, Sandy Bay

St. Mary’s The Briars Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. Mary’s, The Briars

Pre-1989 St. Mary’s The Briars Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Pre-1989 St. Mary’s, The Briars{f}

St. Andrew’s Half Tree Hollow Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. Andrew’s, Half Tree Hollow

 

More modern churches 

The New Apostolic Hall (opened 27th November 1994) is the first building identifiable as any ship approaches Jamestown.

St. Michael’s, in Rupert’s, was first proposed by Bishop Claughton in 1860, but was not completed until 12th May 1996. The foundation stone was laid on 18th Jaunary 1995 by Governor Hoole and the church is dedicated to the memory of Bishop Edward Cannan (1979-85). It was also at one time intended that it be built using the stone salvaged from the spire of St. James’ Church, taken down in 1980, but actually the recycled stone was found to be too soft so standard cement blocks were used and the spire-stone used only for the dedication plaque{8}.

The Bahá’í Centre, in The Gumwoods, built in 1998, is a wooden structure, organised as a large single meeting room with an extensive open-air deck.

New Apostolic Hall Half Tree Hollow Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
New Apostolic Hall, Half Tree Hollow

St. Michael’s Rupert’s Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
St. Michael’s, Rupert’s

 

Churchyards 

St. Paul’s Cathedral has an extensive graveyard with many interesting tombstones. The Roman Catholic Cemetery is next door, to the south. Other churches have graveyards, but not St. James’ Church in Jamestown - it and the two other Jamestown cemeteries have been built over and the tombstones relocated. In Jamestown only the Baptist Church has tombstones.

If you like exploring churchyards you may want to explore other darker parts of our history.

The Portuguese Chapel, Jamestown 

Church Valley in 1658 by Johan Nieuhof Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
Church Valley in 1658 by Johan Nieuhof

The Chapel Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena
The Chapel{g}

It is known that the early Portuguese discoverers of St Helena built a chapel near their landing place in what is now Jamestown, thus giving the valley its original name ‘Chappell Valley’. It is sometimes said that João da Nova himself built the original chapel, using timber from a wrecked ship of his fleet, but this has been disproved{9}, and it is sometimes reported that two friars attended the chapel but this is inconstent with other accounts. The original wooden building seems to have been replaced by a stone construction which, according to Cavendish{10} was built in 1571.

The original chapel seemed to be a target for the factions seeking to control St Helena in the 16th Century, with alternating reports of it having been desecrated, then re-built, then desecrated again. Its final fate is not known for certain, but it was presumably demolished some time before the original St. James’ Church was constructed in 1671.

Jamestown has been extensively built and rebuilt since the 17th Century and no remains of the original Portuguese chapel are known to exist.

Related buildings 

St. James’ Vicarage internal Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena

Also of interest is the Vicarage for St. James’ Church in Napoleon Street, Jamestown. Although uninteresting from the outside, inside it still contains an 18th Century open fireplace and bread oven. The vicarage is home to the vicar and his family, so is not open to the public.

Gravestones and memorial windows 

The gravestones and memorial windows in St Helena’s churches and other cemetaries are listed here:
www.eggsa.org/library/main.php?g2_itemId=2610641.

Read More 

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Below: Historic Environment RecordArticle: Entry on the World Monument Fund watch-list

More stories on our page Read articles about St Helena.
For a chronological summary of our island’s history please see our A Brief History page.
For the avoidance of doubt, you participate in any activities described herein entirely at your own risk.

HER image Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena

Historic Environment Record

For more about our historic buildings consult The Historic Environment Record.

Article: Entry on the World Monument Fund watch-list

Published on www.wmf.org/project/saint-helena, October 2011{11}

The jagged cliffs of Saint Helena rise out of the Atlantic Ocean between the continents of Africa and South America, some 1,900Km from the nearest landmass. The once strategic and commercially important island was discovered by the Portuguese in 1502 and occupied by the British from the middle of the seventeenth century. Saint Helena served as a colonial staging post for the East India Company and was later used as a resupply point for the British seaborne fleet. The Emperor Napoleon, its most famous resident, was exiled here in 1815.

The architecture reflects the island’s storied past, with British, French, Boer/South African, and African influences. Many of Saint Helena’s heavy fortifications still dominate the coastline, and current inhabitants continue to use and adapt the company houses, stores, and forts to their daily lives.

Saint Helena’s built heritage, including Banks Battery and High Knoll, increasingly has suffered from deterioration and partial collapse as a lack of investment, government support, and legislative protection have made it difficult to maintain or improve the condition of many sites. Saint Helena is not eligible for most conservation funding available in the United Kingdom, even though it is a British Territory. Indeed, Saint Helena is representative of several overseas British territories with little access to government resources for heritage stewardship. If more resources were made available to the island, the conserved built heritage could be used to bolster the economy through tourism development, especially after the construction of a planned airport.

Closing Humour Saint Helena Island Info Churches of St Helena

Laugh at funny Churches of St Helena humour LOL Saint Helena Island Info


Credits:

{a} Rambling Wombat{b} From St Helena: A Physical, Historical and Topographical Description of the Island, including the Geology, Fauna, Flora and Meteorology, by John Melliss, published in 1875{c} St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Philatelic Society (SHATPS){d} Mantis St Helena{e} www.eggsa.org{11}{f} Andrew/Peter Neaum{g} From ‘Insula d. Helenæ’ by Theodore de Bry, 1601 Copyright © The Hebrew University of Jerusalem & The Jewish National & University Library{11}



Footnotes:

{1} Are you wondering why the altar has changed colour between the two Interior pictures? Well according to Anglican church practice the altar colour varies according to the season of the year (pre-Christmas; post-Christmas; Pre-Easter; etc.) so clearly these were taken at different times of year.{2} The chapel was completed in 1854 and includes a Meneely Foundry bell, cast in 1852 in Troy, New York.{3} Build by Governor Hudson Janisch.{4} Also showing the Church Hall (red roof, right).{5} How could the very small number of Roman Catholics afford such a substantial church? It was paid for by the War Department because the few Roman Catholic servicemen needed a place of worship.{6} Date of opening or dedication of the current building. Includes all places of religious assembly, not just ‘Churches’.{7} The New Kingdom Hall for Jehova’s Witnesses in Half Tree Hollow opened on 9th January 1993.{8} The building appears, to us, to be unfinished. The blocks have not been properly pointed and it looks as though it was intended that it be rendered. Presumably the money ran out!{9} See other debunked myths.{10} Thomas Cavendish is usually said to have been the first Englishman to visit St Helena.{11} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.



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