Guyana’s built heritage Christ Church
Guyana Chronicle
June 30, 2002

Related Links: Articles on heritage
Letters Menu Archival Menu

THROUGHOUT Guyana, there are unique manifestations of craftsmanship evident in our architecture that is overwhelmingly wooden and elaborate. Local genius is readily apparent in the abundance of architectural detail - intricate fretwork, balusters, jalousies and the utilitarian Demerara Window - visible in the dwelling houses, churches and public buildings.

One of the most integral architectural features of Guyana’s landscape is that of religious structures. They include a range of details and reflect the grandeur attributed to these places of worship as a showpiece for the congregation.

Of all the ecclesiastical buildings in the environs of Georgetown, Christ Church is reminiscent of an English country church.

This is one of the oldest churches having graced the landscape of Cummingsburg for more than 166 years. This church has its origin in the dissatisfaction by many members of the newly erected St. George’s Cathedral who felt that the form of worship at St. George’s Cathedral was too high for their tastes.

Thus, the decision was taken to erect a new church, one specifically designed to appeal to those who liked the unadorned Protestant simplicity in their services.

In 1836, 16 persons received permission by the Bishop of Barbados to construct their own chapel and despite numerous objections of the rector of the cathedral, a licence was soon granted. On June 6, 1837, a Catholic priest and a Jesuit priest, appealing for donations for the `destitute and suffering Irish and Highlanders of Scotland’ preached the first sermon. On November 20, 1843, the church was consecrated, after its various debts had been cleared.

The western façade is the most elaborate part of the church. Elements of European architecture are prominent. Among these are the three simply carved doorways. The centre is the largest, corresponding with the central aisle in the interior of the church. Two large wooden posts

An example of the decorative ironwork.
flank the central door, giving way to a simple lancelet window above the central door and two smaller windows above the other doors. Other noticeable features include a small clock and a tower, which houses the church bell.

The interior of the church is also quite simple with the most outstanding features being a stained glass window and ornate ironwork reminiscent of the Georgian and Victorian eras in the ceremonial areas. There is a small balcony on the second floor of the church, which was used by the coloured people who attended the church.

Numerous memorial tablets of prominent members of the church adorn the walls.

Christ Church is a fine example of simple beauty, an heirloom of Guyana’s architectural heritage.