Heritage Sites to Visit this Christmas!
With 2020 flying by, and Christmas speedily approaching, the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago wishes to share a few sites you and your loved ones can learn about and share in the festivities this Christmas season.
Morton Memorial Presbyterian Church
Established in 1898 by Dr. John Morton, The Morton Memorial Presbyterian Church and school are located in Guaico, Sangre Grande. The all-wooden church which is primarily made of timber, is currently used as a place of worship. Dr. Morton was a Minister of the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia, Canada, who came to Trinidad’s shores in 1864. Upon his arrival he observed the impoverished and underdeveloped state of the East Indian labourers working on the sugar estates. Moved by this, Dr. Morton returned to Canada intent on seeking assistance in the implementation of a Mission in Trinidad to aid the East Indians.(Anger, 1998) In 1868 Dr. Morton returned to Trinidad with his wife and daughter. He began erection of the Presbyterian Church and the first mission was located at Iere Village.
At the Morton Memorial Church the celebration of Advent begins on the first Sunday of December and candles are lit each week leading up to Christmas to highlight the advent calendar. Similarly, the four weeks of Advent present an opportunity for communal discernment and personal examination, as the church prepares to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord and looks with hope for Christ’s return. Usually, a Christmas concert and dinner are hosted in the Church a week before Christmas followed later on in the week by Christmas carolling that begins in the Church Hall and continues throughout the community. This year the church is hosting a Virtual Christmas Concert. More information can be sourced from the facebook page:
All Saints’ Anglican Church
All Saints’ Anglican Church erected in 1846 on two lots of land in Dert’s Pasture, was the first building built on Queen’s Park West. The Church was initially a “Chapel of Ease” attached to the Trinity Cathedral until it formed its own parish in 1868. It was built utilising Laventille limestone and ballast bricks, following the neo-gothic revival architectural style as popularly used in Trinidad during that time. The neo-gothic style is most memorably known for its use of strong vertical lines and ability to create a powerful sense of height. Pointed arches were commonly used to embellish windows and entryways. All windows and entryways are adorned with pointed arches and yellow ballast brick trimming indicative of the gothic revival style.
All Saints’ Anglican Church, possesses a great deal of significance to Trinidad. It has been described as a family church due to the legacy of familial connections forged since inception. The church can be seen as a handed down token amongst families. Older members introduced their families to the church and thus began a tradition of attending All Saints’ within the family.
The All Saints’ Anglican Church celebrates the Christmas season with the acknowledgement of the Advent Calendar by lighting the Advent wreath. The Advent wreath is usually a circle of greenery with five candles rising from it. There are four candles on the outside that are purple, and rose and the candle in the middle is white. The candles are lit in the same order each week so that by the fourth week, the candles have burnt down by different amounts. (The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday, known as Gaudete or ‘Rose Sunday’.) The wreath represents the everlasting life of God, without beginning or end, of newness, renewal and eternal life.
The candles symbolise the light of God entering the world through the birth of Jesus.
The centre candle is white and is called the Christ Candle. It is traditionally lit on Christmas Eve or Day. The All Saints’ Anglican Church usually hosts an annual lighting of the Creche, which can be viewed from the Savannah, however, due to the current COVID 19 health regulations, the lighting of the creche will be broadcast virtually. For more information, please call the office at 627-7004. This church is a listed property of interest protected under the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago Act Chap 40:53.
Located just before Killarney (also known as Stollmeyer’s Castle), the Archbishop’s Residence is a listed (protected) property of interest, and a must for Christmas sightseeing. It was built in 1903 by the Fifth Archbishop of Port of Spain, Patrick Vincent Flood, at a time when the wealthy estate-owning French Creoles were building on Maraval Road. Influenced by Indian Empire architecture, the design was drawn in Ireland by an Irish architect. Construction of the palace was carried out by George Brown of the Trinidad Trading Company and the building was completed in 1904. A Chancery was constructed to the west of the main building and the summer house and stables were torn down and replaced by a new apartment. The first floor of the house, the sacristy, the chapel and a room in the south-west corner of the house have been maintained in their original state. The architect for the renovation was Sonny Sellier and the contractor, Rev Father Kevin Devenish. On completion in 1969, Monsignor Anthony Pantin, the first Trinidadian-born Archbishop, took up residence.
The Catholic Church has designated the four weeks preceding Christmas as Advent, a time to prepare for the Lord’s coming as the King and Saviour. The Advent wreath, which has German origins, is a wreath made of evergreens and is bound to a circle of wire. The wreath holds four equally spaced candles, the three purple ones lit on the penitential Sundays and a rose one for Gaudete, the joyful third Sunday in Advent.
At the beginning of the advent season, the Nativity Scene is positioned to the front of the Archbishop’s Palace along with dazzling decorations throughout the garden. Take a walk or drive around the savannah and take in the creche and lights for your Christmas merriment.
St. John’s London Baptist Church
Originally built in 1854, St. John London Baptist Church is a Christian facility hosting a myriad of programs towards youth and community outreach. It is a limestone modified Gothic Revival building with ballast brick quoins and trims, featuring pointed arched windows and entrances, and symmetrical elevations. It was built in 1854 by Mr. Black who was the head mason, Mr Swoard, a head carpenter and Mr. Gonsalves a renowned builder in Port of Spain at the time. The church was officially opened for worship on March 26th 1854 by Reverend Law. Usually, the church celebrates the Christmas season by holding various concerts and events. However, this year the events have been cancelled due to Covid-19 health regulations. Though celebrations have been halted, the Christmas spirit can still be felt through the services that will be held in the church. This site is a listed (protected) property of interest protected under the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago Act Chap 40:53.
This season, the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago wishes to encourage the public to enjoy their Christmas season, not only by celebrating the occasion but by also acknowledging the important sites at which these celebrations occur. Take a walk or a drive and observe the details of these historical buildings this Christmas season. When you do, send us a snapshot of your visit in front the building and tag us on Facebook or Instagram @ttnationaltrust so we can spread the Christmas cheer!
Maya Doyle, Research Officer, National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago
- Anger, Bob. The Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives, Finding Aid, Records of The Rev. John Morton and Family. Ontario, 1998
- https://www.pctt.org.tt/ – Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Tobago
- All Saints Anglican Church Facebook Page
- National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago materials
- National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago
- Page 3, – National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago , All Saints Anglican Church Facebook Page