Collapsed Vault In St Peter’s Churchyard

March 4, 2024 | 0 Comments

The vault above an ancient stone tomb in St. Peter’s Churchyard has collapsed.

A spokesperson said, “The barrel-vault over an ancient stone tomb in St Peter’s Churchyard, St George’s, collapsed after many days of heavy rain, during Sunday night the 4th of February. The semi-circular vault fell into the grave space beneath it when a side wall of the tomb subsided.

“Church warden Ms. Liz Christopher at once informed Canon John Stow, the acting Priest in Charge, who now heads up the project to conserve and restore the tomb. The area has been made safe and a plan is in place, first to consult widely with the many parties who have an interest, and then to restore the tomb for posterity, following professional advice and using the correct materials.

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“The tunnel-like design of the vault is similar to a number of others in St Peter’s Churchyard, each with a particular variation of this feature. They date mostly from the early years of the nineteenth century, when the forts in St George’s were being rapidly expanded and the materials and skills for such exacting stonework were readily available.

“St Peter’s Church and its curtilage lie within the St George’s Preservation Area and are an iconic feature of the St George’s World Heritage Site. With its cemetery for Free and Enslaved Blacks, regularly visited by school groups, the Churchyard has African Diaspora Heritage Site status.

“The tomb to be restored is catalogued but without a name, in the authoritative reference book ‘Bermuda Memorial Inscriptions’ by Hilary and Richard Tulloch, published in 2011 jointly by the Bermuda National Trust and the National Museum of Bermuda. A desk survey is under way to identify, if possible, the name of the family associated with this grave. This vicinity of the Churchyard has been closed to burials for nearly two hundred years.

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“As well as the relevant authorities of the Anglican Church of Bermuda, to whom the Wardens and Vestry of St Peter’s are accountable, organizations already approached for their guidance include the Heritage Office of the Department of Planning, the Bermuda National Trust with its Heritage Committee and Archaeological Research Committee, the National Museum of Bermuda, the St George’s Foundation and the St George’s Preservation Authority. The Charity, the Friends of St Peter’s Church, is also closely involved.

“Once a structural survey has been undertaken, a mason with experience and expertise in such historical conservation and restoration work will be engaged. Foremost in this field is Dean Saunders, who has recently executed specialist masonry works at Fort Albert and St George’s Military Cemetery, both also in the World Heritage Site.”

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