St. Matthias’ Anglican Church, St. Matthias Road, Hastings, Christ Church, Barbados, was my first Church…I was baptized in a Catholic Church somewhere in the U.K. but St. Matthias has always really been my church. I have visited, played, sung, worked, joined and ‘churched’ in other buildings and denominations over time, but St. Matthias’ kept my heart and memories.
I have walked, ran, driven and been driven along this road, St. Matthias Road so many many times that I have had a certain relationship with its very cracks. On the left is a Law Court, where once stood the St. Matthias’ Girls’ School (Primary) where I used to play and learn in the comfort of its grounds and prestigious building. I have no idea who is responsible for tearing it down and slapping together this low run shed and then audaciously housing a Court there.
Just towards the end of the road is the Church itself. I would run through this side gate at the junction of Balmoral Gap and St. Matthias Road on a Sunday morning and then hustle through the main door and up the stairs even as the Sexton was ringing the bell, so as not to be late robing for Choir duties.
Approaching St Matthias Church from Hastings Main Road.
St. Matthias’ Boys’ School was once next-door, to the right of the lower wall, but is now no more. The girls’ and boys’ school have been amalgamated and relocated. Some of the former Boys’ School area is now still used by the Church.
The Church Hall, slightly visible here towards the back of the Church building and next to the Vestry, was constructed in my lifetime (after some debate) and provided a space for us then youngsters to grow and experiment..in dance, shows, parties, youth meetings; and is still well used. Wedding Receptions are also held there.
St. Matthias Church is located on the South Coast of the island. The Church’s business is currently led by Canon Noel Titus and Rev. Hugh Sandiford.
This is the first door to the left as you view the Church. Through this door I went many a Sunday evening for the Evensong which I loved. I would sit a few pews in, on the left so as to have a good sighting through the windows. I watched as I listened to the service. I gazed out the window as I sang along with congregation and Choir, as Balmoral Gap became bit by bit more commercial. Always quiet, it is full of activity. And just on this side of the building, in the Church’s graveyard, there is now a “Garden of Remembrance”.
It was here at St. Matthias Church that I was ‘Confirmed’ and took my ‘First Communion’ all those years ago. It was here that Mr. Brewster, the Sexton (now deceased) showed me how to ring the bells and let me help out on Saturdays with dusting and polishing. It was here that Mr. Best, his then Assistant allowed me to play and potter about in the gardens. It was here that I took my first (and last) Organ lessons under Neville King L.R.S.M. It was here that I got my best singing tuition under the same Mr. King. It was here that both my maternal grandparents were sent lovingly off. It was here.
Among the graves in the Churchyard are those of some of the crew of the HMS Dauntless (1847) which saw honours in the Baltic and Crimea 1854/1855. This vessel suffered an outbreak of Yellow Fever on its way to Barbados from the Virgin Islands (around 1852) and so those crew, as well as most of the family of a Cpt. H. A. Turner among others, were interred at St. Matthias. The graveyard was closed soon afterwards (around 1854).
St. Matthias Church is a Military or Garrison Church. It was consecrated on August 2nd. 1850 by Bishop Thomas Parry and has been deemed a building of Historical Interest by the Barbados National Trust.