Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port of Spain, Trinidad, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel

Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port of Spain, Trinidad

This is a sketch of the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral on Hart Street in Port of Spain, Trinidad. I did this drawing the same day as the Old Police Headquarters drawing. The Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral was under construction in Woodford Square, Port of Spain, when it was discovered that it was being erected in the wrong location. Even though the walls had reached their full height, the building was demolished and a new design prepared by Philip Reinagle within the spirit of the Gothic Revival. The new building was completed in its new position, across the street, in 1823. Its crenellated square tower has corner diagonal buttresses and pinnacles above. Clocks are inserted into the octagonal spire, and along the sidewalls are engaged buttresses with pinnacles. Gothic-headed windows occur between the buttresses. The handsome hammerbeam trusses on the interior were carved in England and imported to Trinidad in sections.

One interesting aspect of the Cathedral is the unexpected round headed arches on the top brick tiers of the towers. They contradict the soaring vertical reach heavenwards, which is the point of Gothic. Gothic employed a skeleton of piers, buttresses, arches, and ribbed vaulting, all held in equilibrium by a “combination of oblique and vertical forces neutralizing each other.” The result – an architectural tour de force, the whole ides being to reach upwards towards God.

Click here for St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Tacarigua.


Historic Architecture in the Caribbean Islands by Edward E. Crain

Ajoupa by John Newel Lewis

National Library & Information Systems (Trinidad & Tobago)

A History of Architecture by Bannister Fletcher

Holy Trinity Cathedral, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel

Holy Trinity Cathedral - Photo by Vernelle A.A. Noel

According to architect Colin Laird, the main area of the church is typical of the Georgian period a part of the neoclassical style of architecture and interior design, popular in Great Britain during the reigns of the first four King Georges (approx. 1715 to 1820). The architecture is simple, “Not fussy,” Laird explained. The walls inside the Cathedral take you back to colonial days. Tablets placed “in the memory of” recall former members of the British elite, including Alfred Henry Martin M.D. – the superintendent of the local lunatic asylum, Frederick Moore Ward – an ensign in his Majesty’s Royal Regiment of Foot, and Sarah Lady Harris – the wife of George Francis Robert III Lord Harris and daughter of former Archdeacon George Cummins. The Cathedral is filled with interesting historical items such as the marble statue dedicated to former Governor and founder of the Church, Sir Ralph Woodford. It was made by Chantrey in 1828.

The Walker organ was the result of the fundraising efforts of Dean Edward John Holt – Dean of the Trinity for 31 years – who collected the £12,000 the instrument cost when it was installed in 1914. In 1897, the 26 x 6 foot chancel was built as a memorial to Bishop Rawle. It cost £6,000 and comprises the choir and sanctuary, a cloister, a Bishop’s vestry and chapel, a priest’s vestry, and a choir’s vestry. According to Laird, the chancel is reflective of the Victorian architecture popular at the time. Probably the most impressive feature of the chancel is the altar, which was constructed in 1927. Designed by R. Bassett-Smith and drafted by Thomas Rudge, the altar is built entirely of selected local mahogany and is backed by alabaster and marble mounted on a base of Portland stone.

The contrast between the work in the nave (main area) and in the chancel is clear. The columns in the arcs are detailed in the chancel whereas the Georgian approach to the arcs in the main area is modest. Noticeable too is the difference in the stained glass techniques. In the nave, the tiny fragments of the stained glass windows are symmetrical. Patterns are intricate but conventional; nothing too abstract. In the Victorian chancel however, the stained glass showcases magnificent representations of the saints. The fusion of colour on the individual glass fragments is also quite impressive. Outside the church, the corner of every wall contains yellow brick, known as London stock. According to Laird, this was one of the few materials, which had to be imported when the Church was being erected. The rest of the wall is made up of regular brick but it is the subtle difference in their arrangement, which gives away the architectural period. Whereas the brick layout in the main area of the Cathedral is organized; bricks are laid in terms of size and shape, the brick layout in the Victorian chancel is less structured.

According to Reginald Power in his “Short History of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity,” up until 1858, the church was “blocked on two sides at least, by dwelling houses, and services were often disturbed by quarrels in the yards adjoining. As opportunity offered, these places were bought up and the churchyard opened.” Today the churchyard is impressive, a smaller reflection of the breathing area offered by Woodford Square to the north. A large area at the front of the Cathedral facilitates offers parking for members of the congregation. On the Hart Street side, there is an extensive lawn with attractive gardening.

Reference: Architecture of the Holy Trinity Cathedral

Have a superb week ahead!

Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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