The Friends of St Peter’s Church
The Friends of St Peter’s Church was formed in 2005 as a non-profit organisation of individuals dedicated to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and promotion of St Peter’s Church and its adjacent graveyard in St. George’s, Bermuda. The group recognized the needs of this unique church which is challenged by the dual roles of being a house of worship for the community and an important historic landmark and visitor attraction in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The committee was formed of community members from the congregation, residents of St. George’s and residents of Bermuda.
The mission of The Friends is to preserve and restore the historic church for future generations of Bermudians, as well as the many thousands of visitors who every year make their way up the famous steps of St Peter’s.
This mission is accomplished by:
• Bringing knowledge and expertise to St. Peter’s Church.
• Encouraging, organising and facilitating the restoration, preservation and
maintenance of St. Peter’s Church.
• Fundraising to finance projects.
• Serving as volunteers and providing support with promotional projects which ensure
the continued relevance of the church’s role in Bermuda’s past and future.
“Historic buildings are a proud and significant part of our, and every, nation’s heritage. They are an irreplaceable element of the collective memory of local communities…They contribute both to our sense of identity and to that regional distinctiveness which is so valuable and so vulnerable.”
J Stevens, Past Chairman
It is recognized that many people see the church in the community as an integral part of their environment, even if they do not attend services on a regular basis. Members of the Friends of St. Peter’s come from outside the church community as well as within. We welcome everyone to become a member.
The trustees of the Friends of St. Peter’s, registered charity no. 775, meet once a month and a produce a newsletter which keeps members informed of all projects and events. In addition, the Friends arrange two annual services – a commemorative service for Midshipman Sutherland Dale in February and a commemorative service for Pilot James Darrell in April.
The Work of the Friends
- Restoration in 2009 of the original 1814 clock in the church tower.
- During 2010 and 2011, the transformation of the church vestry into a showcase of church treasures which include two historic bibles – a 1640 King James and a 1594 Geneva Bible – and a custom fitted safe containing a fantastic collection of sacred silver, some dating back to 1625. This was achieved with the help of a generous donation from Butterfield Bank.
- Thanks to a generous gift from the St George’s Rotary Club, the stabilization and repair of some of the burial vaults in the historic churchyard dating back several hundred years. Bermuda weather is notoriously corrosive and has taken its toll on many of these structures.
- Conservation of the six brass candelabra which hold over 60 candles, the oldest chandelier dating back to the late 1700’s.
- Rector’s Board inscribed with the names of all rectors of the church from 1612.
- 400th Anniversary Art Exhibition in conjunction with Masterworks Art Museum.
- Restoration of the 1640 King James Bible with a generous donation from Mr and Mr Norman Roberts of St George’s.
- In 2014 the refurbishment of the church’s 30 year old 900 pipe organ. Bermuda’s weather is notoriously corrosive and 10 large pipes were collapsing under their own weight. This was a major undertaking and the total cost of the project was $29,000.
- In 2019 projects included tenting the Edith Clair Spencer Hall, painting the hall exterior, repairing and painting of the heavy plantation blinds on the church and re-printing of the church brochure. This was accomplished with funding from the Friends of St. Peter’s Church members and the UNESCO World Heritage Fund.
- The restoration of the wall memorials was completed in 2020 as part of the 400th anniversary of the first session of Parliament in 1620. The project was carried out by Lawson Mapp, JP and funded by The Friends of St Peters Church and the UNESCO World Heritage Fund.
- Wheelchair accessability was improved with the opening of the “Jemmy” Darrell Pathway to the Black Graveyard and a cedar ramp in to the vestry.
- The Rectory was constructed in about 1874 and sits on the site of, and incorporates part of, the old Government House, which was built in 1721. It fell empty when Bermuda’s capital moved to Hamilton in 1815.Part of the building was removed for the erection of the ‘new’ parish church now referred to as the ‘Unfinished Church’. In 2021 funds from the UNESCO World Heritage Fund provided for the refurbishment of the heritage windows, replacement of the blinds and painting the building roof and exterior.
- The 250-year-old blinds are being restored and painted in 2022. Each blind has been stripped back to bare wood, deteriorated slats replaced, then fresh paint applied to ensure their longevity.