[ Long Island ] • Twin Churches
In south Long Island, you find the island’s capital, Clarence Town. The majority of the settlement is elevated and overlooks either the Atlantic Ocean or the natural harbour that’s absolutely stunning at low-tide when sandbars are exposed.
In the 1800’s, an American Loyalist, Major Archibald William George Taylor, was granted land on Long Island due to his support of the English Crown during the Revolutionary War in the United States of America. The entire land granted to him is present day, Clarence Town; which he named after one of his brothers.
Today, Clarence Town is a sleepy, idyllic village and is home to the ‘gubment’ dock where the mailboat comes into the island, old salt canals used during the island’s salt raking past, a few restaurants and bars and the “Twin Churches”.
Not entirely identical, the “Twin Churches” of Clarence Town are unique to the island and to the country at large. They both feature tall twin towers in the front of their buildings. One (St’s. Peter & Paul’s Roman Catholic Church) features round towers, while the other (St. Paul’s Anglican Church) features towers more angular and square in nature.
The “Twin Churches” owe their design to Father Jerome Hawes, who had a background in architecture. Father Jerome, as he became known in The Bahamas, is credited for the design of several buildings throughout the world. Especially in, Australia and here in The Bahamas.
In 1884, after its design, the first of the “Twin Churches” was completed; St. Paul’s Anglican Church. Today, my own uncle, Oral Bowe, serves as the catechist for the church. St. Paul’s Church is also where the vast majority of my family in and from Long Island were baptised as infants.
However, in 1911, Father Hawes left Anglicanism and converted to Roman Catholicism, becoming a Catholic minister. In 1946, construction for the second of Father Jerome’s designs began under the authority of Father Cornelius. In the following year, construction finished and the church was dedicated as St’s. Peter & Paul’s Roman Catholic Church. Apart from the “Twin Churches”, the Hermitage, which sits atop Mt. Alevernia in Cat Island was also designed by Fr. Jerome. Of the two churches, St’s. Peter & Paul’s offers the best views as it is atop a hill overlooking the harbour protected by nearby cays. Its towers can also be climbed for an extra treat. When driving into Clarence Town from the settlement of Dean’s, it’s the first thing that will be seen in the distance, perched on its hill.
When on Long Island be sure to check out these two churches in Clarence Town. It would be best to call ahead before visiting, if you’d like to take a look inside or, in the case of St’s. Peter & Paul’s, climb the towers. For St. Paul’s Anglican Church, the contact persons are Deacon Bryton Ward or Tiffany Turnquest (the Parish Secretary) and they can be reached at 337-3002. For St’s. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church, the number to call is 337-3802 where you’ll want to speak to Deacon Patrick Darville.