Historic Architecture of Bridgetown

Where: Bridgetown, Barbados

Trip Dates: 10/21-11/11/17

I’m finally back with more travel content, I know it has been a while. If you remember all the way back to last year I was still posting about my trip to Barbados in October. And that is right where I am picking up today, with a few of the historic sites around Bridgetown.

Bridgetown Map

Bridgetown is here.

I was in and out of Barbados’ capital city a fair amount during the trip, but on one day I was able to take my time and wander around in search of historic architecture. And believe me, Bridgetown has plenty of it.

The Queen’s Park House

The Queen's Park House

Located in Bridgetown’s only park, this building was built in the mid 1780s and served as the residence of the Commander-In-Chief of Her Majesty’s Forces, the British Garrison, when they were permanently stationed in the city.

(I discussed the Garrison area in my last travel article several weeks ago, but while researching this building I came across a tidbit of information previously unknown to me that I feel is worth mentioning: Britain’s decision to place a permanent Garrison in the West Indies in 1780 was at least partially influenced by the rebellion of certain North American colonies that some of you may be familiar with.)

After the British Garrison left Barbados in 1905 the house and surrounding land became a national park. The Queen’s House—formerly known as the King’s House until Victoria took the throne—has been renovated several times starting in the 1970s, the most recent renovation taking place just last year (2017). A part of the building now houses the Queen’s Park Gallery, displaying a selection of the country’s visual arts.

St. Michael’s Cathedral

St. Michael's Cathedral

Just down the hill from Queen’s Park is St. Michael’s Cathedral. Actually, the church’s proper name is The Cathedral Church of St. Michael and All Angels, but with a name that long you can understand why it is sometimes referred to simply as The Cathedral.

The church was first consecrated in 1665 as St. Michael’s Parish Church (it is located in the Parish of St. Michael). The original church was destroyed by the hurricane of 1780, and rebuilt in coral stone in 1789. It received Cathedral status in 1825 after the Diocese of Barbados was established.

The Church was again hit by a hurricane in 1831, but was only partially destroyed this time. So much of the structure as you see it today is from 1789. St. Michael’s is the tallest Anglican Church in Barbados, and contains a 17th Century marble baptismal font.


And a rather large organ.

Like many historic churches, St. Michael’s is also surrounded by a historic graveyard. This graveyard is the resting place of several notable Barbadian political figures, including Sir Grantley Adams, the first Premier of Barbados.

The Cathedral is currently collecting funds to continue an extensive restoration project on the building.

St. Michael's Cathedral Graveyard

The surrounding graveyard as seen through one of the Cathedral’s wings.

Bridgetown’s Bridge

The story goes that when the British first arrived on the island around 1628, this area contained a wooden bridge built by native peoples. The British—being a creative lot—naturally began calling the place Bridgetown, and the name apparently stuck. Today the city is home to two bridges, but the more prominent (read: historically interesting) of the two is the Chamberlain Bridge.

Chamberlain Bridge

This bridge was originally a swing bridge constructed between 1865 and 1872 when the harbor was used for shipping. The bridge crosses a section of river leading into Carlisle Bay known as the Careenage—so named because this was the area where ships were “careened” to the sides of the river for repair and cleaning.

Looking across the bridge (as in the sketch above) you can see the Independence Arch, constructed in 1987 for Barbados’ 21st anniversary of independence from Britain. The arch displays different aspects of Barbadian heritage and culture, including the national flower and the national pledge.

At the foot of the arch is Independence Square, a pleasant space along the waterfront to relax and enjoy the view. The square also contains a monument to Errol Walton Barrow, the first Prime Minister of Barbados in 1966.

Errol Barrow

The monument to Errol Barrow.

Looking across the Chamberlain Bridge in the opposite direction you can see much of downtown Bridgetown, including the buildings of Parliament. I was unable to make it to the Parliament Museum this time around, but next time I visit I will try to have some more on these beautiful buildings.


The Parliament buildings in Bridgetown across the Careenage.

Nowadays, the Careenage is home mostly to leisure craft. A Deep Water Harbor was completed in the 1960 that can accommodate the larger cargo vessels and many cruise ships that frequent the Caribbean. The old swing bridge was converted into a more efficient drawbridge in 2006, but the Careenage is still lined with old warehouses from its heyday, many of which have been converted into shops.

Bridgetown warehouse

Here is a warehouse that has not been restored or converted. I sometimes find that this kind of decay has a beauty to it that you can’t find in other places, but then I am strange.

This is only a small fraction of what you can find in Bridgetown, but I will definitely be going back in the future, and I will spend some more time wandering around the city.

I will be back in two weeks with the final post on Barbados. As I mentioned in last week’s update, I am changing The Inky Atlas to a bi-weekly format for my sanity, so that I can continue working on some of my non-travel related art projects. I apologize for the inconvenience, but I only have so much awesomeness to go around.

I Need Your Help

Like I said, I’m going to continue repeating this section as long as something can be done.

The FCC recently voted to repeal the Title II regulations that ensure Net Neutrality. If you are like I was and have no idea what that means, here is the short version: Net Neutrality is what ensures that everyone has open and equal access to information on the Internet. Without this, your service providers—like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast (*shudder*)—can slow down or outright block your access to websites with opposing political opinions or that offer competing services, or create “fast lanes” for the big sites that can afford to pay for higher internet speeds. Basically, this gives your providers a frightening level of control over how you use the internet. All in all, this favors companies with lots of money and spells disaster for small, independent sites and artists trying to promote themselves online (hi there).

To make this as personal as I can, if this happens it is entirely likely that I will no longer be able to continue this blog. But it is not time to panic just yet. Congress still has the ability to overturn this decision. This is NOT a partisan issue, this affects us all. So please contact your representatives to let them know you support Net Neutrality. I have already called and emailed, and you know if I am willing to pick up the phone it is serious (I hate making phone calls). If I can do it, so can you.

Here are a couple of resources that have more complete information about what is happening:

Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know

What Actually Happens the Day Net Neutrality is Repealed

And here are some places where you can join others in appealing against the dismantling of Net Neutrality:

Electronic Frontier Foundation

This site will automatically send an email to your various representatives under your name using your ZIP code.

Battle For the Net

This site will connect you by phone to your representatives and provide you a script to read.

ACLU Action

This is a petition organized by the ACLU to combat the repeal of Net Neutrality.

By | 2018-01-18T21:46:49+00:00 January 19th, 2018|Barbados, Caribbean, History|0 Comments

About the Author:

James is an artist and illustrator currently working in Georgia.

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