One of Port of Spain’s oldest surviving structures
Holy Trinity Cathedral is sited in the dense urban environment of Port-of- Spain, where it occupies the majority of the city block just south of Woodford Square. At 203 years old, the Cathedral is one of Port of Spain’s oldest surviving structures. The building is a fine example of Neo-Gothic or Gothic Revival Architecture with a Victorian flair. It serves as the seat of the Anglican Bishop in the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Cathedral remains an important place of worship for Trinidad and Tobago’s Anglican population. Until recently, Children who attend schools in Port-of-Spain under the direction of the Anglican Education Board frequented the Cathedral for religious instruction. The Cathedral also serves as a venue for the ceremonial commencement of the Law Term.
The first Anglican presence in this country began with priests who were appointed in compliance with royal instructions of 1763 to establish the Anglican Church in Tobago.
Revd. John B. Clapham, a Chaplin of Sir Ralph Abercrombie’s occupying forces, was installed as the first Rector of Port of Spain, or Rector of Holy Trinity Parrish. The new Parish began in 1801, just four years after the island was surrendered to the British in 1797 and had jurisdiction over all of Trinidad.
The Holy Trinity Cathedral remained the only Anglican Church and its rector the only Anglican clergyman in Trinidad until 1835. The Ecclesiastical Ordinance of 1844 made the Anglican Church the established church of Trinidad; divided the island into 16 parishes with six rectories and 10 island curacies; and provided instructions for registering baptisms, marriages, and deaths. On 29 June 1872, the Anglican Church in Trinidad became an independent diocese to which Tobago was joined in 1891.
The existing Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was the successor to a much smaller church that stood at the corner of Prince and Frederick Streets. It was later destroyed in the Great Fire of 1808.
The Illustrious Cabildo temporarily accommodated the congregation while a new church was under construction. Worship was held at this location for nearly ten years. In 1813, Sir Ralph J. Woodford became Governor and immediately halted progress on a new church within the boundaries of Brunswick Square (Woodford Square) as it was a place designated for public recreation. Governor Woodford Laid the cornerstone on May 30 1816, and the original structure was completed two years later in 1818. The New Church was consecrated on Trinity Sunday, May 30, 1823.
When finished in 1823, the Church’s structure only included a voluminous nave and a large square battlemented tower. The ornate Chancel and large iron steeple that crowns the tower were added in subsequent phases of construction. Upon completion, the Church provided seating accommodation for 300 white and 180 free coloured pew holders.
By 1850 the Cathedral played host to a lavish wedding between then Governor Lord Harris and Sarah Cummins, daughter of Archdeacon Cummins. This wedding provided an unprecedented social spectacle to the inhabitants of Port of Spain at the time. As the centre of the Church of England on the island, the Cathedral featured prominently in the history of the city which grew around it and, by extension, the history of Trinidad itself.
Architecturally, the Cathedral reflects the Gothic Revival style mixed elements of the Victorian age. It was designed by the colonial secretary Phillip Reinagle. The Cathedral’s structure emphasizes height featuring pinnacled buttresses, a tall bell tower topped by a prominent steeple, and steeply pitched roofs covering the nave and chancel. The design also includes lancet stainedglass windows pointed arch double doors typical of the Gothic Revival style.
The Cathedral was built using blue limestone sourced from the Laventille Hills, Lime Mortar, and yellow brick or London stock sourced from the Hollington quarries of Staffordshire, England.
it was damaged in 2018’s 6.9 magnitude earthquake.