Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Nevis is a tiny island but it packs a lot of history in its small space. I saw historic ruins and landmarks on every other road but for me, the most moving was Cottle Church. Hidden in the woods north of the capital of Charlestown, the ruins of Cottle Church stand as a reminder of a time when slavery was rampant but glimmers of hope still existed. That hope was demonstrated when Thomas Cottle built the Anglican church in 1824 so that his family could worship along side the enslaved inhabitants of the plantation.
It was actually illegal for the enslaved to worship so Thomas was bucking the system on many levels. The church was never consecrated but this monument to religious freedom exists as a special landmark. Walking through the archways of the church, I felt the spirits of the dozens of enslaved people who worked all day, every day, and then prayed for freedom in this church.
The names and ages of all the enslaved plantation workers are listed on a wall of the church. It's fascinating to see the people who are highlighted for being born in Africa. This means that they survived the Middle Passage of being chained in a ship on the West African coast and sailing for months to the Caribbean. It's especially heartbreaking to see the number of children listed. Emancipation was granted in Nevis and other British colonies in 1834, so they would work and hopefully survive the brutal conditions for ten more years.