ST. THOMAS’ CHURCH – MIDDLE ISLAND is the oldest Anglican Church in the West Indies, introduced shortly after the arrival on the island of St Kitts of the eponymous Captain Thomas Warner. In 1623 Warner arrived with a crew of twenty and settled the first European colony on the island.
In 1625 Captain Warner returned from a successful trip back to England to sell the tobacco crop grown by the new settlers, and brought with him the Reverend John Teatley (also spelt ‘Featley’). Former member of Magdalene College and Fellow of All Souls, Oxford, he became Rector of Middle Island from 1625-1634, establishing the first Anglican congregation on the island. With the rapid expansion of European settlement, a second rector was appointed in 1630 (at Palmetto Point) and shortly after, one on the east coast of the island. Originally Anglican churches on St. Kitts were temporary structures of wood on cobble-stone foundations, with out-buildings of wild cane. St. Thomas was no different. It stood to the west of the present structure with the tombs of Sir Thomas Warner and Samuel Jefferson situated inside the church.
This building was badly damaged by hurricane and earthquake, particularly the earthquake of 1841, and by 1860 worship was being held in the school room. The present stone structure, built by the colony in 1860 at a cost of 2,000 pounds sterling, was consecrated on April 21st, 1861 with Darius Davey as Rector. One of the most significant events in recent history occurred on Tuesday 8th October 1974.
As a result of an early morning earthquake, the church tower collapsed. Shortly before 6 am, Sexton Joseph Duporte was on his way to the church to ring the angelus for matins. He had just reached Warner’s tomb when the ground shook, scattering stones all about him.
Arch-Deacon Hodge, then Rector for St. Thomas, was leaving his rectory home in Sandy Point to conduct the service when his house shook. He remembers rushing back upstairs to check on his frightened family before hurrying over to the Church.