St. Peter's Church Graveyard.jpg

St.Peter's Church/Graveyard

St. Peter's Church GraveyardLance Furbert
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In the heart of the Town of St. George, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is St. Peter’s Church, the oldest Anglican Church in continuous use in the New World and one of the key sites in Bermuda’s African Diaspora Heritage Trail. The church and its graveyard still bear witness to the impact of slavery on the community and the church. The first settlers to Bermuda arrived in 1612 and a church was one of the first public buildings to be erected on the site still occupied by what later was named St. Peter’s Church. Within four years, under the rule of the Bermuda Company this became the first English colony to import indentured Blacks. By 1698, almost a third of the 1,124 inhabitants of the Parish of St. George were Blacks, many having been brought from Africa as slaves. As the slaves and their descendants became Christians they were entitled to Christian burial in the church graveyard. The western extension to the original graveyard, probably added in the latter half of the 1600’s, was set apart for the segregated burial of Blacks, whether free or enslaved. As in other Bermudian churches, a gallery was built at the western end of the church in the early 1700’s, so that Blacks, both slaves and free, could attend services. Access to this gallery was by a separate doorway at the northwest corner of the church.