‘Bermuda Cathedral’ celebrates 110 years
The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity is a church on a hill in the heart of a city. This fixture in the City of Hamilton celebrated 110 years this month.
With the change in Bermuda’s capital from St George’s to Hamilton in 1815, there came a need for a church in Bermuda’s new city. On July 1, 1844 the foundation stone for what would become Trinity Church was laid.
After 39 years of building, Trinity Church was completed in 1883. But sadly, it was destroyed by arson the following year. Returning to square one, a building committee was formed again and the foundation stone for the existing building was laid in May of 1886. The rebuilding took an additional 25 years, and the completed church was consecrated on May 11, 1911.
The building is a beautiful piece of Gothic-inspired architecture, designed by Scottish architect William Hay. It features accents from around the world such as the choir stalls carved of English oak, the high alter made of marble and the columns of polished Scottish granite.
Originally intended as a chapel-of-ease for Pembroke parish, Trinity Church did not receive cathedral status until 1925, when Bermuda was established as an independent diocese within the Church of England and given its own bishop.
The primary purpose of a cathedral is to be a place of Christian worship, but it is often of great significance to the heritage, culture, and community life of the area it serves. This is most certainly true for the Bermuda Cathedral, as it is affectionately referred to.
Today, The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity is the ‘mother church’ for the Anglican Church of Bermuda and hosts diocesan services and events annually. It also houses The Warrior Chapel, a special memorial dedicated to Bermudians who served in First and Second World Wars.
It is the seat of the Bishop of Bermuda – a position currently held by the Right Reverend Nicholas Dill – and a focal point for national services and remembrances.
Embedded in Bermudian life and culture, the building is not only a landmark but also a place of nostalgia for hundreds of residents who will remember – with joy or sorrow – a wedding, baptism or funeral that has taken place in its sanctuary.
In later years, the Cathedral has also become a popular place for tourists to visit, with the view from the tower among the city’s best kept secrets. If you make it to the top of the 155 stairs, you will find a breathtaking panoramic view of the City of Hamilton. The property has also become a quiet lunchtime reprieve for workers in the city.
But above all that the building is and represents for Bermuda, the Cathedral is a spiritual hub open to all people from all walks of life. It is a place where individuals and families can worship and fellowship together.
Ordinarily, the Cathedral is open daily to anyone seeking a quiet place to pray, reflect and rest. However, since the coronavirus pandemic it has had to close its doors to visitors during the week. Ministries have been compelled to pivot through the pandemic and weekly services have continued virtually. Amid all of this change, the Cathedral reach has expanded beyond the city and our shores.
Despite having to close the sanctuary doors to the public for now, it continues to be a place of community for many who benefit from its outreach. Most popular is The Cathedral Breakfast Programme, which transitioned into daily lunches at the onset of the pandemic in April 2020. Through the generous donations of members, volunteers, corporate and private donors, it provides about 120 meals to Bermuda’s most vulnerable population daily.
The Cathedral is also home to the City Singers, a community outreach choir that meets weekly, when restrictions allow, for lunch hour song sessions. It also hosts Men at Work, a weekly Bible group for males, and an annual 24-hour prayer room every June.
Now 110 years on from its consecration, the ministry of the Cathedral continues to grow and develop to meet the spiritual and practical needs of the city and the people of Bermuda.
Although the physical building may be the first thing you see, it is the people, the service and the ministries within its walls which make the Cathedral a truly remarkable place – ministries based in faith, community, love and the hope of Jesus Christ.
Historical information provided by Lawson Mapp