If you’re in the area of Chaguaramas in northwest Trinidad, I recommend stopping by the church and cemetery of St. Chad’s. Some may find it strange but I love old cemeteries. I love the silence, the history, the mystery. That is why, when I was cruising down Tucker Valley Road in Trinidad for the first time, I was instantly excited when I saw an abandoned church in the distance. And as it turned out, this chance discovery did not disappoint.
I’ve now visited this particular church twice. Once, the long grasses were trimmed back and I could traipse through the grounds with no fear that something would slither up and bite me unseen. The second time however, it was the opposite. I still traipsed through the grounds but I kept looking down expecting to see a brightly coloured snake hanging off my bare toes. I definitely suggest closed-toe shoes if you visit!
What to Expect
Objectively, there isn’t much at St. Chad’s: a dilapidated church, stone crosses scattered across open grounds, and one tomb. Subjectively, this place is beautiful, especially if you go in the late afternoon of a sunny day. The “golden hour” gave everything a warm glow that was further emphasized by the deep greens of the surrounding forest. Tall bamboo creaked in the breeze while palms rustled their fronds. The slightly spooky calls of Red Howler Monkeys echoed in the surrounding hills. You really couldn’t get any more atmospheric than this!
The Story of St. Chad’s
During colonial times, this area used to be an estate where crops such as coffee and cocoa were grown. St. Chad’s Anglican Church used to be part of a long gone village called Mount St. Pleasant; this village had been home to those who worked on the estate and their families. The church was first built in 1850, rebuilt in 1875, and rebuilt yet again in 1915. Most of the church’s roof is now gone as are most of its wooden shutters; all that is really left are the walls. But still…you can almost picture the small 19th century congregation that once would have attended wearing their Sunday best!
An Englishman called William Tucker once owned this estate. His daughter was Amelia – she married Edgar Tripp, a man who not only was her father’s business partner but the one who installed the first electricity generating plant in Trinidad. As much as I hate defining Amelia by the men in her life, I know nothing else about her, unfortunately. So why do I mention Amelia? Because she’s the only person who has an inscription in the cemetery of St. Chad.
St. Chad’s cemetery is nothing ‘official’. It is more a scattered collection of stone crosses. Some are spread out, partially hidden by the grass. Others are clustered together under a shady copse of trees. The crosses are all blank; it isn’t clear, however, if there ever were inscriptions on them. Amelia is not marked by a cross. Due to her societal status, she got a tomb. You can find it tucked away on the far edge of the grounds. Her story is the not uncommon one of the time – she died in childbirth in 1879. She was 23 years old.
Bright be the place of thy soul;
No lovelier spirit than thine
E’er brush from its mortal control
In the Orbs of the blessed to shine