The Alley Saint Peters Anglican Church-Clarendon Parish
On Sunday, I headed for a friend’s church up in the mountains of Clarendon. I figured I would swing by The Alley to get some photographs of the interior of the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church building. I had previously taken photos of the exterior during a weekday so I figured I’d take this Sunday to get see the inside. I arrived at 9:00 and stayed until 10:00 o’clock when I had to leave. Alas, no one showed up on the Sunday morning of my visit. However, I did manage to get some decent photos through the windows, which you can view below in this post. I had a particular interest in the church building because it contains many monuments to the past owners of the local sugar estates, on the interior walls.
Saint Peter’s Church is located in the town of The Alley (yes that’s right THE Alley). From what I understand, The Alley was quite the town in the 1700’s; in fact, it was called the Paris of the New World. Today, it is a sleepy town where most residents are employed by the local Monymusk sugar plantation or work in the Monymusk sugar mill and distillery. If the church building is any indication of what the town looked like in the past, it was certainly a beautiful town. I saw other evidences in the area of the grandeur that once was a town fitting the name of Paris of the New World. The Vere Parish sugar belt brought the prosperity to the region.
Saint Peter’s Church is the third oldest Anglican Church on the island of Jamaica. The church, originally built in Withywood (now Milk River) was founded in 1671 as the parish church of Vere Parish (now a part of Clarendon Parish). After the 1692 earthquake, the church moved to The Alley and they constructed the building in 1715. In 1722, a hurricane partially destroyed the building. The church rebuilt the existing building on the existing foundations and completed it in 1735. They constructed the magnificent building of red brick and stone quoins brought over as ballast in ships from England. The brick tower forms the entrance to the building and is accented by quoins, arched windows and crowned with castellation all painted dazzling white. The original slate roof has recently been replaced with a shingle roof, as evidenced by the piles of slate remaining along the exterior walls. Most of the windows are arched at the top. Unfortunately, an addition has been added to the back of the building constructed of unpainted concrete block. The stairs in the tower lead to a three-quarter ton bell cast by Mears of Whitechapel, London in 1857. This same foundry cast Big Ben in London. The massive organ was installed in 1847 and is said to be the oldest organ in the Commonwealth Caribbean. There are magnificent stain glass windows. The window on the east side of the building depicts the life of Jesus and the window on the west, the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and the Ten Commandments. Graves of colonialists and members that are more recent surround the building.
Exquisite marble monuments are on the walls and set into the floor. One wall monument calls attention to the one below as:
BENEATH THE MARBLE
IN THAT PEW HATH BURIED THE BODY OF
THE HONOURABLE JOHN MORANT ELDER
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
OCTOBER THE 7 ANNO DOMINI 1710
IN THE 44TH YEAR OF HIS AGE
AND HIS SON JOHN MORANT YOUNGER
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
FEBRUARY THE 6 ANNO DOMINI 17—
AND ALSO ELIZABETH
THE WIFE OF JOHN MORANT
In addition, the monument that bewails poor wretched survivor Elizabeth Osborn:
TO THE MEMORYOF
THE HON. KEAN OSBORN
OF CASWELL HILL IN THE PARISH OF VERE
AND OF MONPELIER SAINT THOMAS IN THE EAST
LATE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY IN THIS ISLAND
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFETE 4TH OF SEPTEMBER 1820
AT SAINT MONT SUR VAUIRAY IN FRANCE
ON HIS WAY TO ITALY
FOR THE HEALTH OF WRETCHED SURVIVOR
Monuments in the church building commemorate the following families (dates of death): Alpress, Collman (1840’s & 1850’s), Douet (1900’s), Edwardes (1820’s), Fowles (1900’s & 1910’s), Gale (1740’s & 1750’s), Gibb (1900’s), Gibbons (1710’s), Hannaford (1870’s), Husband (1900’s), Lewin (1970’s), Lewis (1830’s), McGilchrist (1760’s), Mitchell (1890’s), Morant (1720’s to 1750’s), Murdock (1930’s), Osborn (1800’s to 1820’s), Plummer (1970’s),
Pusey (1760’s & 1780’s), Read (1740’s & 1770’s), Robinson (1970’s), Scott (1970’s), Sympson (1840’s), Tillman (1910’s) and Wilson.
The church built the Mike Robinson Hall above the old rectory but it has since burned down. Just the stonewalls remain. It would have been great to ask who Mike Robinson was, but alas, I had miles to go and there was no one around to ask…maybe some other day. Therefore, I shall leave the long dead colonialists to stand guard until I return.