The Cottle Church
Nevis, West Indies – Would a slave master carry out the weekly tasks that the position requires Monday through Saturday and worship with his slaves on Sunday? The beautiful remains of a chapel built on the island of Nevis in the West Indies sought to test this unconventional idea centuries ago.
Thomas John Cottle was a very lenient slave owner and proponent of certain slave freedoms.Thomas John Cottle was a very lenient slave owner and proponent of certain slave freedoms. In 1822 he began construction of an Anglican Church on his Round Hill Estate so that slaves and masters could worship together.
The Chapel St. Mark’s of Ease, as it was commonly known, was completed and dedicated in 1824 but never consecrated, since it was illegal at the time for slaves to worship and the practice was not allowed in the Anglican Church.
Cottle, who also served as the president of Nevis for many years, died four years after the completion of the chapel.
At St. Thomas Lowland, 1 of 5 parishes on Nevis, a plaque to Cottle, that was moved from his church, states “To his negroes a mild and humane master, ever anxious to promote their temporal benefit and proving his regard to their external happiness by the erection of this chapel for their improvement.”
In the forth coming centuries, the chapel was rarely used and fell into disrepair. In 1974, it ultimately fell to ruin in an earthquake.