Re-entombment of 9 lead coffins in Bridgetown

On January 4, 2015, a large mahogany tree in the yard of St. Mary’s Church, believed to be about 200 years old, fell and extensively damaged a tomb believed to be of the same vintage. The tomb was thought to have entombed two members of the Barclay family, the parents and children of which eventually went to Liberia and one of them became the 14th President of that country.

However, after the tree fell and the tomb was excavated, it was revealed that instead of two lead coffins, there were in fact nine coffins there. The Church had to have these coffins stored at a local funeral home until the tomb could be repaired and restored.

However, after the tree fell and the tomb was excavated, it was revealed that instead of two lead coffins, there were in fact nine coffins there. The Church had to have these coffins stored at a local funeral home until the tomb could be repaired and restored.

In order to raise funds to cover the unexpected cost of the reconstruction of the tomb, the church held a unique event in the very church yard. On June 6th, the first ever ‘Jazz in the Yard – a Heritage Gala‘ was held which was a successful pairing of music, wine and history and raised the much needed funds.

Now that the tomb has been authentically rebuilt, under the direction of heritage architect Michael Lashley, the Church plans to re-entomb the remains of the nine bodies found there. In the meantime, historians His Excellency Robert ‘Bobby’ Morris and Morris Greenidge have been extensively investigating the Barclay family and their descendants and have found some interesting information about those buried there and their connections.

On Monday 7th September at 7 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church, they will share this information with all interested persons when Robert “Bobby” Morris will deliver the lecture entitled “The Barclays Family Vault: Narrative of Urban/Rural, Colony/Metropole and Black and White Crossings.”

This lecture should give insight to all those who are interested in the history and heritage of St Mary's or of this island and the connections to the Barclay family who subsequently moved to Liberia and became leaders of that country.

This lecture should give insight to all those who are interested in the history and heritage of St Mary’s or of this island and the connections to the Barclay family who subsequently moved to Liberia and became leaders of that country.

Then on Friday 11th September at 10 am at the site of the tomb in the church yard, Rector of St. Mary’s Church, Father Von Watson will conduct a ceremony to consecrate the reconstructed vault and re-entomb the remains of those who were originally buried there with the kind assistance of Lyndhurst Funeral Home.

In addition to this interesting tomb, the St. Mary’s church yard has copious graves and tombs of noted personalities from local history. The grave of National Hero the Right Excellent Samuel Jackman Prescod can be found on the eastern end of the church yard while it is believed that the legendary Bridgetown hotel owner Rachel Pringle is buried there and the grave of another well known hotelier Susannah Ostrehan was recently discovered in the church yard.

The Jazz in the ‘Yard event fell within the National Heritage Month of June when Barbadians celebrated the anniversary of the inscription of the island’s UNESCO World Heritage designation – ‘Historic Bridgetown and Its Garrison’.

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